The Chicago Bears came into their game this Sunday against the Colts with high hopes of keeping the momentum gained from their win against the Lions going. They hoped that momentum would carry them forward to another victory. The Colts had been in a downward spiral to start the season and needed a win against the Bears to keep hopes of having a winning season alive.
This was a game of two fairly evenly matched teams. It was felt that the Colts had a little bit better advantage at quarterback being they have Andrew Luck as their signal caller and he’s been pretty good since entering the NFL. The Bears were starting Brian Hoyer again and while he had done well in his previous starts, he was not the same caliber as the afore mentioned Luck. The Bears had a slight disadvantage here but they felt they could overcome that with a strong running game and an opportunistic defense.
In the end the Bears played well but it wasn’t good enough as they couldn’t overcome the mistakes they made which included penalties and missed opportunities. The Bears ended up losing in the waning moments of the game, 29-23. It was a hard fought contest, as predicted, with a lot of offense and somewhat ineffective defense on both sides. Had the Bears been able to take advantage of perhaps just a couple opportunities or avoid one or two penalties, they would have won this game. That is how close it was.
Chicago’s first drive of the game was a good one but they couldn’t punch it in the end zone. Instead they settled for a Connor Barth field goal. The Colts would follow it up with a nice drive of their own but that one stalled out and ended in a field goal also. The Colts would end up adding a touchdown a little later on when they succeed in faking out the Bear’s defense scoring an easy touchdown.
The Bears put together a decent drive to follow up with the Colt’s touchdown but they struggled with a penalty (Kyle Long) and settled for a long field goal. The Colts had a short drive on their next go round which ended with an Adam Vinatieri field goal. Each team was trading scoring drives but early on the Colts had the advantage.
The Bears would finally score a touchdown on the next drive following a long run by rookie running back Jordan Howard. Chicago’s offense was able to put the ball in the end zone with a Hoyer to Cameron Meredith pass. This, coming after it appeared Howard had scored on a short run before the play was called back due to a penalty. That score tied the game up at 13 apiece.
The Colts put up three to close out the first half. Both defenses were playing less than stellar football to start and it appeared that the team that could just get one key stop in the second half may win the game.
In the second half the two teams started off slowly and punted one time a piece. The Bears had the Colts back to the wall on another drive but a penalty allowed Indianapolis to keep going. Penalties were a real problem for the Bears in this game. The defense did step up and kept the Colts to just a field goal on that possession.
Chicago got the ball back with the score 19-13 and drove down the field only to see their drive stall. Barth got two chances to kick a field goal and bring the Bears to within three but on both chances (the second chance coming on a penalty by the Colts) he missed. The Colts took over following the stop.
Indianapolis was stopped on their next possession and the Bears got a shot at edging closer or possibly taking the lead on the next drive. They were able to get within three as Barth nailed a field goal to make it 19-16.
The Colts couldn’t do anything on their next drive so the Bears go the ball back after a monster punt by punter Pat McAfee. Despite the poor field position, the Bears were able to take it all the way down the field capping off a near perfect drive with a 21 yard touchdown pass to Howard. The Bears were up 23-19 at that point with about seven minutes in the fourth quarter. It was the Bears longest drive in several seasons.
The Colts were able to move the ball down the field easily on their next drive and regain the lead 26-23. With just under four minutes left, Chicago got the ball back and had the opportunity to retake the lead. On that drive, Chicago receiver Cameron Meredith coughed up the football and the Colts recovered. The Bears defense did stiffen though and held the Colts to just a field goal. The score was now 29-23.
The Bears got the ball back with just over two minutes left and moved down the field quickly but in the end a penalty by Bobby Massie and a missed opportunity ended the game for the Bears. Their chances of winning slipped away.
It appears as if Hoyer is going to remain the starter at least a little while longer. He had a monster game throwing the ball and did a nice job of managing things even though he missed a few opportunities. He did what he could do with second and third string wide receivers and got the ball out when it mattered. Pencil him in as the starter until he has a break down and Cutler is back healthy. For now he is playing very well and can’t be easily replaced.
When starting running back Jeremy Langford went out a couple games ago with an ankle injury, the coaching staff knew they could rely on rookie running back Jordan Howard and for the second straight game he delivered. He had the longest run in years for the Bears and was breaking tackles all over the field. Like situation with Hoyer and Cutler, the Bears may have found their starting running back for the rest of the season and Langford may be relegated to backup duty when he returns.
The wide receivers had a pretty decent game but did make a few mistakes (like the fumble by Meredith). There were some missed opportunities and some routes that weren’t run correctly but overall this was a decent effort rather than a poor one. The second and third string receivers, like they did last year when the chips were down, played well and gave the Bears a chance to move the ball and win the game through the air. They will have to do it again week after week for the remainder of the season but they should be up to the task.
It is this writer’s opinion the worst player on the team right now is Bobby Massie. Massie’s play has been inconsistent over the first few games. On Sunday, he earned himself a penalty at a critical time and it cost the team dearly. Massie has to be there because the Bears don’t have anyone else so he will remain in the lineup but hopefully they can upgrade the position this coming offseason. The line did a decent job overall but there were some careless penalties earned by this unit. They need to clean their act up.
The defensive line got some good push up front and kept pressure on Luck (although the bulk of the sacks came from the linebackers). You can see that starter Eddie Goldman is missed but the guys who are left have stepped in and done some good things in his absence. This unit will be a lot better when Goldman gets back but for now, they are pretty stout and getting better with each game.
The best unit on the team, the linebackers, had a good game. After a long wait, Willie Young got in the act with three sacks which was huge for him. He’s finally starting to look like he’s worth the money the Bears paid him. The rest of the group did struggle occasionally but the Colts killed the Bears in the passing game and not the running game. Perhaps the group could have blitzed more to put pressure on Luck and keep him from having the success he had.
The secondary did give up some yardage through the air but that was expected. The Colts offense is good, particularly in the passing game and it’s hard to contain Luck. But when the secondary needed a stop, they weren’t able to do it and they were a big part of why the Bears lost this game. This team has a good secondary but they make some mistakes and don’t have the athletes to keep up with some of the faster wide receivers the have and will encounter.
Special teams were a rough spot again for the Bears in this game as Barth cost them critical points. At one point Barth missed a field goal then, a penalty was called on the Colts giving him another chance. Despite being five yards closer, he missed the second opportunity. The Bears need to find someone else to kick the ball. Punting was solid and coverage teams were pretty good.
The coaching staff called a good game against the Colts except they didn’t run the ball as often as they should have. It was also the execution that didn’t work out well for Chicago. The offense is getting better (in terms of coaching and play calling) but the defensive play calling (while good) is lacking in execution. The Bears need to firm some things up there.
Chicago will host the Jacksonville Jaguars next Sunday at Soldier Field. The Jaguars are 1-3 so, like their game against the Colts, they will be facing another weaker team. The Bears need to take advantage of these matchups.
A full preview of the Bears upcoming game against the Jaguars will be posted later this week.