By Nick Shepkowski–
How bad was New England’s 36-7 defeat of the Bears on Sunday? Figure this; the Patriots were leading 33-0 at halftime while Jay Cutler and Mike Martz could only lead the beloved to 33 yards of total offense in the first half.
What Sunday showed was that the Bears aren’t ready to be ranked with the actual “big-boys” of the NFL. Yes, the Patriots are as good of offense as there is in the league today but don’t call what happened Sunday anything else than the national embarrassment it was.
Where were the Bears especially bad? We could start with the running game that did nothing as Matt Forte and Chester Taylor combined for 15 yards on 9 carries in the first half. And yes, Cutler’s 32.9 QB-rating was the worst we’ve seen from him since the week 16 matchup in Baltimore last season. As ugly as those numbers are, the Bears defense on third down was just as pathetic.
Entering Sunday the Bears ranked third in the NFL as they had allowed opponents to convert just 31.7% of third downs they had been faced with. Apparently nobody told Tom Brady or Wes Welker they were supposed to have trouble converting third down’s on Sunday because the Bears were flat out pathetic in doing so, allowing the Patriots to convert 12 of 19 third down chances yesterday (63.2%).
As a result of the poor effort, the Bears went from stopping 31.7% of third down chances on the year to 35% on the year. 35% now ranks them outside the leagues top five.
Further inspection of the Patriots converted third downs shows even more disturbing numbers.
For all intensive purposes, the game was done and over when Johnny Knox’s fumble was returned for a touchdown and put New England ahead 21-0 (in case you were wondering, the right call was made on this play). To that point the Patriots had converted 4 of their 5 third downs (80%), including going 3-3 on their first scoring possession which included conversions of 3rd and 10, 12, and 7 yards: all inexcusable.
The blame falls in many places: virtually no pass rush from the front-four, very poor pass coverage from defensive backs and linebackers, and enough missed tackles by all to make Bears fans want to turn their heads. The end result was a 36-7 defeat that wouldn’t have ended much differently even in the most ideal playing conditions.
Sure, the Bears still have strong defensive performances against the Eagles and Packers earlier in the year that strengthen their resume, but with Sunday’s result on what was hyped as the “biggest home game since the NFC Championship,” you can’t help but realize the Bears have a ways to go before being mistaken as an elite NFL team.