The continuation of the NFL’s oldest rivalry in Week 15 added another exciting chapter to its storied legacy. Unfortunately, the Chicago Bears came up on the short end of the stick after a courageous fourth-quarter comeback against the Green Bay Packers. The 30-27 loss drops the Bears’ record to 3-11 on the year, further cementing their chances of getting a top-five selection in the 2017 NFL Draft.
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The performances of every phase by Chicago had their shining moments, but neither shined bright enough to give any much-needed warmth to Bears fans in attendance at Soldier Field. When it mattered most, the offense couldn’t take care of the ball, while the defense had problems defending both the ground and air attacks. Let’s take a look at yet another disappointing report card after an even more disappointing loss.
Despite the frigid temperature, Matt Barkley managed to throw the ball pretty well, connecting with seven different receivers. Barkley completed 30 of his 42 pass attempts for 362 yards and two touchdowns. Unfortunately, the four-year veteran had four consecutive turnovers to go along with those gaudy numbers. Barkley’s first interception, which was a Hail Mary at the end of the first half, didn’t do any harm. However, the lost fumble on the first play of the second half, and the other two interceptions gave Green Bay momentum in the third quarter, and helped the Packers put 17 points on the scoreboard.
In the first half, the Packers bottled up Jordan Howard, but the rookie running back finished strong with 90 yards on 17 carries, and a touchdown in the fourth quarter that brought the Bears within three points of tying the game. Howard also added four catches for 23 yards to his stats, marking the eighth time this season that the fifth-round draft pick has had over 100 total yards from scrimmage in a single game.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Deonte Thompson was unexpectedly Barkley’s primary target in the first half of the game. Thompson ended the contest with eight catches for a team-high 110 yards. However, Cameron Meredith had the most receptions among the Bears’ receivers with nine for 104 yards. Alshon Jeffery, who saw his first action since serving a four-game suspension, was quiet in the first half, but came alive in the fourth quarter. Jeffery hauled in six balls for 89 yards and a fourth-quarter touchdown that sparked Chicago’s comeback from a 17-point deficit. Josh Bellamy’s only catch was the first touchdown scored by the Bears. One of Barkley’s interceptions appeared to be rookie Daniel Braverman’s fault. Coming across the middle, Braverman wasn’t expecting the pass, and Packers’ safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix snagged one of his two pick on the afternoon.
The tight ends were virtually nonexistent in the passing game. Unfortunately, with 1:50 left in the fourth quarter on first-and-goal on the three-yard line, Logan Paulsen was called for a holding penalty which pushed Chicago back and made the offense settle for a game-tying field goal instead of a potential game-winning touchdown.
When given the opportunity, the offensive line did a good job in paving the way for the Bears’ running game that averaged 5.0 yards per carry. Only one sack was surrendered by the O-line, but it was a costly one. Left tackle Charles Leno Jr. allowed Julius Peppers to strip-sack Barkley on the first play of the second half, which ignited the Packers’ 17-point third quarter.