Bears Gab would like to give all the fans at Soldier Field a shout-out. Why? At least they showed up for the game. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist).
In blizzard conditions, the Bears were buried under an avalanche of Patriot points. The 36-7 blowout wasn’t as close as the score indicates. Two early 80+ Tom Brady-led drives put the Pats up by two touchdowns early. A Johnny Knox fumble that was returned 35 yards by Patriots LB Gary Guyton put the icing on the cake.
Adding insult to injury, the Patriots had the ball at midfield with :05 left in the half and appeared satisfied going into the lockerroom up 27-0. But Deion Branch blew by Peanut Tillman down the sideline and when rookie safety Major Wright left to help another defender down the middle, Branch went untouched for 59 yards. The Patriots missed the extra point, but the damage was done – 33 to 0. Game over.
God himself couldn’t give a pep talk powerful enough to bring the Bears back from that massive deficit.
The final statistics read like an obituary for the out-classed Bears:
|3rd down conversions||12-19||3-8|
|Time of possession||39:41||20:19|
Despite the miserable conditions, Brady was…very Brady-like: 27-40, 369 2 TDs. He had two receivers – Welker and Branch – go over 100 yards. Jay Cutler on the other hand couldn’t get in a rhythm when it mattered. Sacks, penalties and turnovers were the Bears offense’s undoing as they fell behind by two touchdowns early. Cutler finished 12-26 for 152 yards and 2 picks, both of which occurred deep in Patriots territory.
Fortunately for the Bears, they didn’t lose any ground in their division, as the Lions upset the Packers 7-3, keeping Chicago ahead in the North standings by a game. Aaron Rodgers was knocked out of the game just before the half with a concussion.
If I were Lovie Smith, I’d bury this film on the bottom of Lake Michigan and get ready for the Vikings…wherever that game might be played. And after that, two more playoff-contending teams – the Jets and Packers – loom on the horizon.
While an onslaught of criticism and questioning will surely result from this Pat-down at the hands of Bilichick and Co., the Bears must re-focus. There’s still a lot to play for in this surprising 9-4 season…even if the skeptics say they’re not worthy of serious championship consideration.