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NFL morning after: Bears make a statement in a muddy marathon

bearsmud AP

No teams played under tougher circumstances than the Bears and Ravens on Sunday, who kicked off at noon local time, endured a two-hour delay when a torrential downpour hit Chicago in the first quarter, then returned to play one of the muddiest, sloppiest football games you’ll ever see.

And when the game was over and Chicago’s Robbie Gould kicked a game-winning field goal in overtime, no team had done more to put itself back into the NFL playoff picture than the Bears.

Last week, when the Lions completed a season sweep of the Bears, it appeared that Chicago’s chances of winning the NFC North had slipped away. That feeling was compounded in Chicago by the news after the game that two of the team’s most important players, quarterback Jay Cutler and cornerback Charles Tillman, had suffered injuries in losses to the Lions.

But the injury-plagued Bears weren’t going to give up easily, and they played well on both sides of the ball on Sunday against the Ravens. Backup quarterback Josh McCown completed 19 of 31 passes for 216 yards, with a touchdown and no interceptions. And that injury-plagued defense (missing not only Tillman but linebacker Lance Briggs and defensive tackle Henry Melton) held Joe Flacco to 162 yards on 17-of-31 passing, with two interceptions.

“I wish everybody could see the progression that goes in to winning a game like this, from the time we left the locker room last week devastated from a division loss,” Bears head coach Marc Trestman said after the game. “To see the energy to be able to sustain itself through a five and a half hour game.”

The Bears aren’t a great team. Their run defense, which allowed the previously struggling Ravens running back Ray Rice to gain 131 yards, still stinks. And although they did catch up to the Lions in the NFC North (thanks to the Lions’ loss to the Steelers), Detroit still has the head-to-head tiebreaker edge over Chicago.

But the Bears showed on Sunday that they’ve still got a lot of fight left in them. And with an easy schedule the rest of the way (the 6-5 Eagles are the only winning team the Bears face in their final six games), it wouldn’t be at all surprising to see the Bears in the playoffs.

Here are my other thoughts from Sunday:

Players, hold onto the ball as you’re running to the end zone. Saints cornerback Corey White intercepted 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and raced toward the end zone, with Kaepernick giving chase. As White neared the goal line, instead of simply cradling the football the way players are taught to from Pop Warner forward, White inexplicably started holding the ball with two hands in front of him, then dropped the ball, fumbling it out of the end zone and turning it back over to the 49ers. It’s amazing how often players fumble as they’re running to the end zone, as if they’re already preparing their end zone celebration before they actually get to the end zone.

Worst call of the day? Detroit’s fake field goal. The Lions were controlling Sunday’s game in Pittsburgh, up 27-23 in the fourth quarter, when they had a fourth down at the Steelers’ 10-yard line. Instead of kicking the easy 28-yard field goal and taking a 30-23 lead, the Lions tried a fake field goal, punter Sam Martin fumbled the ball, and Pittsburgh recovered. From there, the Steelers dominated the rest of the game, marching down the field after that botched fake field goal to take the lead, then padding their lead with another touchdown in the fourth quarter to win 37-27. Lions coach Jim Schwartz said after the game that he called for the fake because he wanted to be aggressive. He should have taken the three points.

We still can’t figure out the Jets. With Sunday’s loss to the Bills, the Jets became the only team in NFL history to alternate wins with losses in each of their first 10 games of the season. The Jets have lost to bad teams like the Bills and Steelers, but they’ve also beaten good teams like the Patriots and Saints. If you only saw their 38-13 loss to the Titans, 49-9 loss to the Bengals and Sunday’s 37-14 loss to the Bills, you’d think the Jets were the worst team in the NFL. But every time they lose, they bounce back with a win. And despite Sunday’s ugly showing, the Jets are still in the playoff hunt.

Vontaze Burfict is a knucklehead, but he’s a knucklehead who makes plays all over the field. Burfict, the Bengals’ second-year linebacker who wasn’t drafted last year because teams were too leery of his character issues, had another personal foul penalty on Sunday. But he was also an absolutely dominant presence, with 15 total tackles and a brutal hit that forced a fumble, which Burfict scooped up and ran to the end zone for a touchdown. Burfict is a great linebacker.

Matt McGloin’s first start was a stunner. Not only was McGloin not drafted coming out of Penn State this year, but most people who saw him play in college never thought he’d be more than an extra arm for some team at training camp. The idea that he’d make the Raiders as an undrafted rookie would have sounded farfetched, and the idea that he’d actually start a game in his rookie year would have seemed absurd. But not only did McGloin start on Sunday, but he threw three touchdown passes and no interceptions while leading the Raiders to a win over the Texans. McGloin became the first quarterback since the common draft began in 1967 to go undrafted and have a three-touchdown, no-interception game as a rookie.

Percy Harvin makes an outstanding Seahawks team even better. The Seahawks managed to go 9-1 without the injured Harvin, who made his Seattle debut on Sunday. Now that Harvin is healthy, he makes an enormous difference: The first time the Seahawks threw his way, the Vikings committed pass interference. The second time, Harvin caught the pass for 17 yards. The next time Harvin got the ball, he returned a kickoff 58 yards. On the Vikings’ next kickoff after that, they were so concerned about Harvin’s ability to break a long return that they pooch kicked it to the 30-yard line, giving Seattle great field position. Harvin is a major addition to a team that was already the best in the NFC.

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42 Responses to “NFL morning after: Bears make a statement in a muddy marathon”
  1. thekiy says: Nov 18, 2013 7:29 AM

    No one should be complaining about the fake field goal, it was the perfect time to call it as it was completely unexpected, but the players on the field didn’t execute.

    If they score the TD or get the first down there, everyone is hailing it as a ‘great decision’.

  2. cuda1234 says: Nov 18, 2013 7:32 AM

    Harvin should be a big help to the Seahawks – if he can avoid the migranes, other injuries and felony charges he’s been dealing with his entire life. When he’goes on IR and/or to prison, the Vikings will be seen as the clear winner in this deal.

  3. wryly1 says: Nov 18, 2013 7:51 AM

    Twice last summer I posted here that Ravens would do well to reach .500 this year. I got thumbs down by 2:1

  4. sgtdiver says: Nov 18, 2013 7:52 AM

    I am one of the few that loved the fake fg call. I like them being aggressive like they have been. Yeah we lost but let’s be honest, we aren’t made for bad weather. We should have never been in that game. It was 1 good quarter. To say we controlled the game is a bit of a lie. The 2nd quarter we dominated but that’s about it.

  5. lightcleric says: Nov 18, 2013 7:54 AM

    Under normal circumstances the fake might have been olay but not when it’s raining like 10 feet a minute. When I’m getting absoultely drenched by heavy rain and the field is a mess, my first thought is not “Hey, this would be a great time for a fake field goal!”. Some things are unexpected because they aren’t that smart.

  6. myhawks1976 says: Nov 18, 2013 8:01 AM

    Cuda1234,

    the Vikings will be the clear winner? roflmao. what is your record? You lost the greatest running back of our generation mentally the day you made thattrade. do you not remember APs comments? have you seen his play this year? and now the trade rumors?

    if Percy Harvin never played anotherdown for the Hawks, you lost in this trade. Bad.
    Percy is heading for a Super Bowl run, and the Purple PeopleEaters are heading to the toilet bowl. you”re last in one of the most watered down divisions in football.

    PS: Schneider and Carroll knew the history when they went to get him. we were 9-1 WITHOUT Percy. Percy is icing here. in Minnie, him and AP were the cake, icing and the party favors

    you just got your rear ends handed to you on a dollar store platter. don’t talk smack. take your 2 and Terrible record, head home and start thinking draft picks.

    its over kid.

  7. doubleentandre says: Nov 18, 2013 8:05 AM

    “The Lions were controlling Sunday’s game in Pittsburgh, up 27-23 in the fourth quarter…”

    umm no they weren’t. They controlled the game in the 2nd quarter only. The entire 2nd half they scored zero points, CJ had zero receptions, and the defense kept letting L. Bell and H. Miller get open in the same spot of the field over and over and. The fake field goal was the perfect call in that spot. Just because it didn’t work doesn’t mean it was the wrong call.

    And besides, the Steelers finished with 37 points. If they attempted the field goal that would only give the Lions 30. Still would have lost with the way they played in the 2nd half.

  8. doctorrustbelt says: Nov 18, 2013 8:05 AM

    UNDRAFTED Vontaze Burfict.

  9. metrocritical says: Nov 18, 2013 8:07 AM

    For a guy who is obviously intelligent and experiences, Coach Schwartz continues to make weird, dumb decisions at odd times, giving into rushes of anger, swagger or impulse that tend to backfire. There is a line between being aggressive and being reckless and he ran across that line yesterday, fumbling away a golden opportunity to put fourth quarter points on the board in a road game. Given the weather and field conditions, the score and the percentages, it made no sense to expect that a punter could effectively run with the ball, protect the ball and gain the 5 yards required to keep the drive moving. Sure, it would’ve looked like a mad genius move had the play defied all odds but the likelihood of success was so minuscule and the downside so readily apparent that they play could best be described as negligent and it provided the Steelers with the opportunity to punish the opponent for the foolhardy mistake of its coach. The play wasn’t the only reason the Lions lost but it was the most glaring, unforced error of the game.

  10. cunninghampeetemcnabbvick says: Nov 18, 2013 8:11 AM

    thekiy says:
    Nov 18, 2013 7:29 AM
    No one should be complaining about the fake field goal, it was the perfect time to call it as it was completely unexpected, but the players on the field didn’t execute.

    If they score the TD or get the first down there, everyone is hailing it as a ‘great decision’.

    —————————————————-

    Everyone should be complaining about the fake field goal, it was the perfect time to call it as it was completely unexpected, but it’s a trick play that your players have maybe run in practice just a handful of times.

    If they score the TD or get the first down there, everyone is hailing it as a ‘great decision’ but when it costs you the game it’s probably a really bad decision.

  11. cylondetector says: Nov 18, 2013 8:16 AM

    Wryly; everyone thumbs downed you (I just did it again, for the record) because we all know you would be nowhere to be seen should this amazing prophecy of yours not worked out.

    Now quit moaning and do something constructive with your life..

  12. joetoronto says: Nov 18, 2013 8:27 AM

    Matt McGloin has only played one game and we need to see more, obviously.

    The poise he showed in the pocket though was very impressive and can’t be discounted because it was only one game.

    He also has a strong and accurate arm.

  13. fatguystrangler says: Nov 18, 2013 8:30 AM

    McGloin is the ultimate underdog story. Walked-on in college, undrafted and beats out a drafted rookie to make the team, and starts a game. How improbable is all of that?? If he’d never take another snap, it’d still be a great story! I actually liked Schwartz’s call. The execution was poor, no doubt. Didn’t someone say you play to win the games? Fortune favors the bold. Just not on that occassion.

  14. joetoronto says: Nov 18, 2013 8:34 AM

    thekiy says:
    Nov 18, 2013 7:29 AM
    No one should be complaining about the fake field goal, it was the perfect time to call it as it was completely unexpected, but the players on the field didn’t execute.

    If they score the TD or get the first down there, everyone is hailing it as a ‘great decision’.
    ***************************************************
    I like the Lions, always have, but please explain to me how that “was the perfect time to call it”, when a FG gives them a TD lead.

    You have to kick the FG, IMO.

  15. southpaw2k says: Nov 18, 2013 8:35 AM

    wryly1 says:
    Nov 18, 2013 7:51 AM
    Twice last summer I posted here that Ravens would do well to reach .500 this year. I got thumbs down by 2:1

    ————————————————-

    The irony to your statement is the Ravens could finish 8-8, and yet still get the #6 seed in the playoffs, depending on how things turn out for the rest of the conference.

  16. southpaw2k says: Nov 18, 2013 8:55 AM

    cunninghampeetemcnabbvick says:
    Nov 18, 2013 8:11 AM
    thekiy says:
    Nov 18, 2013 7:29 AM
    No one should be complaining about the fake field goal, it was the perfect time to call it as it was completely unexpected, but the players on the field didn’t execute.

    If they score the TD or get the first down there, everyone is hailing it as a ‘great decision’.

    —————————————————-

    Everyone should be complaining about the fake field goal, it was the perfect time to call it as it was completely unexpected, but it’s a trick play that your players have maybe run in practice just a handful of times.

    If they score the TD or get the first down there, everyone is hailing it as a ‘great decision’ but when it costs you the game it’s probably a really bad decision.

    ————————————————-

    You realize that you’re basically saying all the same things as the original poster, except for noting that it was a bad decision based solely on the fact that it didn’t work for the Lions?

    You might as well give great praise to Andy Dalton for his game-tying touchdown pass to A.J. Green last week in Baltimore too, since that fits with your logic.

  17. sbchampsagain says: Nov 18, 2013 9:30 AM

    Great win for the Bears over my Ravens, congrats to Chicago on a hard fought game!

    Tough loss for my Ravens, but weirdly, the division remins wide open. Ravens browns and even Steelers are pretty interchangeable at this point- Models of inconsistency. Not sure anyone from the AFCN will make a lot of noise in Jan.

  18. justintuckrule says: Nov 18, 2013 9:42 AM

    5 1/2 hour game and no major injuries or concussions. If goodell wasn’t a hypocrite and truly cared about safety instead of high revenue Nintendo scores, he’d force all teams to install natural grass as football was meant to be played on.

  19. billytodd2013blbaad says: Nov 18, 2013 9:50 AM

    who cares about the fake field goal by the Lions..3 points or 7 points.. they still wouldn’t have had enough points to win the game.

  20. thetruthcampaign says: Nov 18, 2013 10:02 AM

    @billytodd2013blbaad, making the FG would have changed the gameplan slightly for both sides. Momentum was lost on that flub of that call.

  21. thetruthcampaign says: Nov 18, 2013 10:04 AM

    Despite the flubbed fake FG, the Lions still overthrew guys, got burned in the secondary and didn’t put enough pressure on Ben…and turned the ball over.

    Even IF they make the playoffs, I can’t feel good about my Lion’s team. Even with stars aligned, they find a way to lose.

  22. doug1grohlin says: Nov 18, 2013 10:08 AM

    The Bears/Raven game sure was great. Not too many places you can play and not be protected by a dome or artificial turf. Having the weather be that big of a factor was fun to see.

  23. bullwnkl985 says: Nov 18, 2013 10:15 AM

    I think the perception of Corey White’s fumble is a little off… He didn’t look to be preparing to celebrate, but rather he was preparing to stretch out and try to break the plain of the goal line with the ball, while falling out of bounds, because Kapernick clearly had an angle on him and was going to force him out of bounds short of the TD.

  24. greatgallopingghost says: Nov 18, 2013 10:17 AM

    Da Bears!

    THE GOOD…
    It was a win when the Bears really needed one. Also, it’s refreshing to see a back-up QB actually trusted to throw the ball and not just execute run play after run play.

    THE BAD…
    111 yards in penalties. Worst penalized game I’ve seen the Bears execute in quite some time. Aggressive play will produce penalties but the team needs to work on not being rash.

    AND THE UGLY.
    That weather was really something. I’m trying to recall when the Bears had such nasty conditions in a home game (outside of the normal cold and snow).

    Bear Down!

  25. raiders4life says: Nov 18, 2013 10:30 AM

    The Terrell Pryor experiment appears to have failed, might as well continue with McGloin to determine if he’s the guy to lead the Raiders into the future or turn to draft next year for that ‘franchise’ QB that has been evading the Silver & Black for so long.

  26. infectorman says: Nov 18, 2013 11:01 AM

    The Bears beat the SB champs and Jump Ball Joe.

    Now I’ve seen everything

  27. granadafan says: Nov 18, 2013 11:16 AM

    Excellent point about players holding the ball out as they go in for a TD. It just looks stupid when they do that and even more stupid when the fumble/get stripped/ drop the ball the millisecond they cross the line/ or drop the ball a bit too early. You’d think players would learn their lesson after watching multiple replays of Leon Lett or DeSean Jackson.

  28. meatsweat says: Nov 18, 2013 11:20 AM

    Corey White wasn’t preparing to celebrate. He was preparing to extend the ball across the goal line on a dive. Still should have tucked it, but it was a QB chasing him, he was thinking 6…

  29. fievel03 says: Nov 18, 2013 11:21 AM

    Benching Bush and targeting Calvin Johnson only three times in the second half did not help the Lions. Why they would scrap the playbook that gave them so much success in first half is beyond my understanding.

  30. metrocritical says: Nov 18, 2013 11:26 AM

    Regarding the fake punt, lightcleric says:

    Some things are unexpected because they aren’t that smart.

    Line of the day.

  31. jonsilver1947 says: Nov 18, 2013 11:49 AM

    Re the lack of targets to Calvin in the second half: the possible explanation (you won’t know until/unless you look at the all-22 film): the Steelers may have had defenders in the passing lanes to him a lot more in the second half (they certainly did on the interception)…

  32. cincinasty87 says: Nov 18, 2013 11:56 AM

    TEZ could help a opposing player off the ground and still draw a unsportmanslike penalty , these refs gun for him now . Either way one of the better LB’s in the game not named Willis , Kueckly , or Bowman

  33. lionstigersandwingsohmy says: Nov 18, 2013 12:21 PM

    This Lions fan doesn’t hate the call, even though it didn’t work. I don’t think Schwartz has confidence in “Shaky Akers”, I know I don’t. The field was a mess and he already rang one off the post. Plus, if Martin makes it, and the Lions win, it kind of makes up for the bad punt that helped cost them the game a few weeks ago.

  34. duece5 says: Nov 18, 2013 12:56 PM

    When does another team, the league especially, take the Bears and Soldier field to task on the pathetic sod they put on that field EVERY year!!!

    I am not a ravens fan either……

    that field is an embarassment and concerning safety, IS A JOKE!!!!!

    There were 4 foot divots out there. The rain just compounded the issue, but if you are aware of the history of the sod on that field, fans would know that it is a JOKE of a sodded field……

    Figure it out Chicago organization…..embarrassing!!!!

  35. johnnyprc says: Nov 18, 2013 12:57 PM

    All the Viking fans that think they got the better deal in the Harvin trade can think what they wants. Seattle has been turning 3rd, 4th, and 5th round draft picks into better players than most teams get in 1st round – and they have done this constantly.

    R.Wilson – 3rd round
    R.Sherman – 5th round
    Lynch – Trade for 4th/5th
    Browner – CFL signing
    and, and on, and on….

    …1st round picks just dont mean a whole lot to the Seahawks.

  36. deweyaxewound says: Nov 18, 2013 1:28 PM

    myhawks1976 says:
    Nov 18, 2013 8:01 AM
    Cuda1234,

    the Vikings will be the clear winner? roflmao. what is your record? You lost the greatest running back of our generation mentally the day you made thattrade. do you not remember APs comments? have you seen his play this year? and now the trade rumors?

    if Percy Harvin never played anotherdown for the Hawks, you lost in this trade. Bad.
    Percy is heading for a Super Bowl run, and the Purple PeopleEaters are heading to the toilet bowl. you”re last in one of the most watered down divisions in football
    ________________________________

    I really didn’t/don’t disagree with much of your post, until that last line about the NFC North being a “watered down division”.

    Fact is, the NFCN has sent TWO teams to the playoffs in each of the last 4 seasons. Last year, it had 3 teams with 10+ wins.

    In that same span, your division has only ONCE sent two teams to the playoffs (last year). Otherwise, what’s your division most famous for? Being the only division (since, forever?) to send a team with a LOSING record (7-9) to the playoffs.

    How’s that for a “watered down” division?

    So, I get that you want to thump your chest now because the Hawks and the NFCW are suddenly relevant (and yeah, the Vikes suck – you’ll get no argument from this Bears fan), but let’s keep a little perspective here, okay?

    Sling your mud at the Vikes if you must, but don’t go insulting one of the toughest, and most successful – and certainly the most historied – divisions in the entire NFL.

  37. deweyaxewound says: Nov 18, 2013 1:47 PM

    duece5 says:
    Nov 18, 2013 12:56 PM
    When does another team, the league especially, take the Bears and Soldier field to task on the pathetic sod they put on that field EVERY year!!!

    I am not a ravens fan either……

    that field is an embarassment and concerning safety, IS A JOKE!!!!!

    There were 4 foot divots out there. The rain just compounded the issue, but if you are aware of the history of the sod on that field, fans would know that it is a JOKE of a sodded field……

    Figure it out Chicago organization…..embarrassing!!!!
    _______________________________

    Get a clue: the Bears don’t own or maintain the field – The Chicago Park District does.

    And as far as I’m concerned, that’s what a football field is SUPPOSED to look like in bad weather, and that’s how the the game was meant to be played, on grass, outdoors in the elements.

    As a fan, I certainly appreciate seeing the game played that way, instead of on some cheap, hard, phony, artificial glorified parking lot.

    You also cite safety, but there weren’t any injuries in yesterday’s 5 hour game that I saw.

    Sounds to me like you just want to miss and poan about something.

  38. wnstonchill says: Nov 18, 2013 1:58 PM

    This is one of those times, being a Bear fan for many years, it’s a no brainer to exclaim my pride in such a gutty group of players who, through the toughest of conditons, endured and triumphed. I also would say that the Ravens deserve a hearty pat on the back for the grit they showed as well. That’s what I call FOOTBALL!!!!!!!

  39. footballchic777 says: Nov 18, 2013 2:13 PM

    Vontaze is a BEAST! This is a kid that begged Marvin Lewis for the opportunity to play and show what he could do, and said he would give everything to the team, and do his best to control his temper. He still has bouts of temper, gets too many penalties….many warranted, but some not, but on the whole, has proven himself to ML and the Bengals and is a tremendous player.

  40. seattlelibtard says: Nov 18, 2013 2:17 PM

    The fake field goal call would have been labeled genius if they scored.

  41. larryboodry says: Nov 18, 2013 2:30 PM

    @deuce5:

    The Bears have no say in maintaining the Soldier Field sod…The idiots at the Chicago Park District do.

  42. wallyhorse says: Nov 20, 2013 4:21 AM

    Knowing the weather that was coming, the NFL should have probably postponed the game to Monday night and done a quick round of re-scheduling to make it a doubleheader on ESPN, with Patriots-Panthers (the scheduled MNF game) moved up two hours to a 6:40 PM ET kickoff and Ravens-Bears being at 10:05 PM ET (9:05 PM local time). That way, the field would have been in better shape and no one could have questioned the field conditions in Chicago. I think the fans and many others would have tolerated a one-time-only late local time start (9:05 PM) in this case (and there is the precedent of having Chargers-Chiefs a couple of years ago be a 10:15 PM ET/9:15 PM local time start).

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