Bears vs. Rams Recap
The Bears locked up a first round bye and at least one home game for the playoffs after drubbing the St. Louis Rams 42-27. The game was close going into half-time with the Bears leading 14-13 but the Bears turned up the heat in the second half and this game was over early in the fourth quarter. The Bears are now one win and a New Orleans loss away from clinching the first seed in the NFC and home field throughout the playoffs. With games against Tampa, Detroit and Greed Bay this feat should be accomplished after week 16 creating an interesting scenario of who plays in the final game against Green Bay.
ON OFFENSE: (Devin Hester......)
34 to 23 was the run to pass ratio last night. It produced 2 rushing and 2 passing TD's and 0 turnovers. Ron Turner finally saw the light and decided to beat an inferior team by running the ball down their throats and an efficient passing game. The Bears longest pass was a 34 yarder to Berrian where almost half of that was run after the catch. It was the best game plan i've seen for the offense yet and the perfect remedy for a struggling young quarterback. Lovie always say we are run first team but last night was the first time i've seen it.
Rex Grossman came into the game a man on the hot seat. Coaches had made it clear that one more stinker of a game and he was benched. That is a lot of pressure for anyone but Rex handled it very well playing with the poise that has been missing from his game lately. He finished 13/23 for 200 yards and 2 TDs. His accuracy, while not perfect, was much improved. He did a good job of getting rid of the ball quickly and not trying to make a big play every touch. Credit the OL with better play as Rex had time and lanes to throw the ball. I don't think this game answered all the questions about Rex but it was a solid step in the right direction. Rex has to face a fierce pass rush and still play well before the jury will come out.
Finally, the real offensive stars of last nights game: Thomas Jones, Cedric Benson and Adrian Peterson. All three backs played to their strengths and showed why having several good running backs is a good thing. Jones did his usual dancing and darting, but found his big play breaking a 30 yarder for a TD. He finished with 11 carries for 76 yards and a TD. He did have a big bonehead moment getting flagged for a stupid taunting penalty early in the game that killed a drive. Cedric Benson ran the ball hard all night and punished the Rams defenders trying to stop him. While he didn't break a big run, his style of running opened up the play-action passing and tired out the Rams defense. He finished with 16 carries for 64 yards. I think this was the first game where he got the majority of carries and I don't think it was a coincidence that the offense was in the best rhythm since the first half of the season. Finally, the forgotten best third string RB Adrian Peterson got into the action early in the fourth quarter and put the game out of reach with two great plays. First he took a screen pass (yes, you heard right, the Bears CAN run a screen pass to a RB.) 32 yards and then later plunged the ball in from the 1 yard line. AP has always been the ultimate team player and an outstanding special teams contributer and it was great to see him get some work on offense. He finished with 12 yards and 1 TD on 3 carries. Overall, the Bears ran the ball very well against a team bad at stopping the run. It almost sounds too logical for Ron Turner!
ON DEFENSE: (Don't worry Devin Hester is coming......)
The Bears played without starters Tommie Harris, Nathan Vasher and Mike Brown for the first time and it showed. While 14 of the Rams points came late in the game against a soft prevent defense, they did move the ball with shocking ease most of the game. The Bears gave up two long drives back to back in the second quarter in a rare show of softness. They are going to have to step it up as while they are getting Vasher back, Harris and Brown are gone for the season. The Rams still have a good Offense but so will most of the teams we will face in the playoffs. Chico Rivera might have to start mixing it up with blitzes and schemes instead of relying on the unreal talent level of his defense.
The DL pass rush was inconsistent all night but rookie Mark Anderson shined getting 2 sacks although he was flagged for uneccesary roughness on one of them. Ogenleye also added a sack. The Bears D relies on the DL generating a consistent pass rush and last night it wasn't there. The combination of Brown, Ogun and Anderson needs to really step up now that Tommie Harris isn't going to be there to disrupt the middle. Tank Johnson also needs to play at his best for the Bears D to keep their dominance.
The LB core and secondary played off their normally high levels but neither stunk it up. Devin Hester got his first playing time at CB and showed why he isn't ready for full-time defensive duty. It's hard to pick out specific players but it just seemed the defensive backfield was just a step off most of the night. I'm not concerned as it may have just been an adjustment period to the missing personel combined with an efficient Rams offense.
ON SPECIAL TEAMS: (Yeah baby, it's Devin Hester time!)
If the 31 other special teams coaches around the league didn't already know the name Devin Hester, they do now. While they used to only have to worry about him taking punts and missed field goals for TDs, they now have to worry on kick offs as well. Hester took two kick offs the distance last night en route to breaking the NFL record for kick returns for TDs. He now has 6 for the season. During his second return Lovie Smith could be seen slack jawed in amazement on the sidelines in a rare show of emotion for the stone faced coach. The combination of speed and elusiveness that Hester posesses will no doubt result in punts and kick offs being sent out of bounds rather than into the hands of Hester the rest of the year. The offense should be the biggest beneficiary with great starting position. It's not out of the question to think Hester a serious contender for Offensive Rookie of the Year even though he doesn't play offense.
Robbie "lost my shine" Gould came up with a case of the pushes missing two FG's wide right. I heard a rumor from a friend that Gould was out last week trying to pick up chicks so perhaps this is just a poon-hunt hangover. Gould should rebound after regaining his focus.
The Rams are a bad team and the Bears will face another three bad teams next so it's going to be difficult to judge just how good the Bears are playing. It's going to be a nail-biting experience waiting for that first Bears playoff game this year. Right now the sixth seed in the NFC is Philidelphia which shows just how bad the NFC really is so it might actually be four games before the Bears play a good team again. There is no doubt right now that the Bears have a better than good chance of going to the Super Bowl. I've got a strange feeling that it's going to be a Cincinnati-Bears party in Miami.....