By Laurence W. Holmes-
(CBS) Time offers the opportunity for perspective, so I thought it would be a good idea to wait each week to give my thoughts on the Bears game. The idea being that 24 hours allows for me to watch the game over and talk to a few more people. Hence, “The 24 Blog.”
What I Saw:
A team victory under incredible circumstances. The Bears finally got a 3-phase performance. It wasn’t pretty and it may end up being pyrrich (more on that in a minute), but it was a win that they had to have against a team that was right behind them in the standings.
Here are three plays from each unit that I thought was signature Bears stuff:
1) Nick Roach stripping Adrian Peterson. The Bears had already turned the ball over and gave the Vikings three points off that turnover. On the Vikings next drive, Peterson made a cut, Roach got his hand in there and knocked the ball out. That gave the Bears the ball at the Minnesota 32-yard line. Six plays later, the Bears took the lead. The defensive players were really disappointed that they didn’t win the turnover battle with SF. They got back on track after this play.
2) Jay Cutler to Matt Spaeth for the touchdown. This was vintage Cutler. He rolls out, let’s the routes develop and goes to his last read, Spaeth in the back of the end zone. I’m not sure how many quarterbacks in the NFL could’ve made that throw, but Cutler knew he was gonna take the hit and still got the ball there. Great body control by Spaeth to get his left foot down, too.
Brandon Marshall told me a funny story about what happened in the huddle on this play, that I’ll get to it in the “What I Was Told” section. Do teases work in blogs?
3) Julius Peppers’ block of the Blair Walsh field goal. The Vikings had finally figured out to give the ball to Peterson more consistently to start the second quarter and they marched into the red zone where they stalled (after going away from Peterson). The field goal cuts the lead to 10-6, but Peppers got that big paw up there to swatted it away. The Bears offense took the ball, put together an 8-minute drive that ended in eight points. Peppers is one of the best in the NFL at blocked field goals. Sunday was his 12th.
The injuries were costly. Lance Louis had been the most consistent offensive lineman that the Bears had. He left with a knee injury and then took a vicious, headshot from Jared Allen. Earlier today, the Bears placed Louis on the injured reserve list, ending his season. I expect Allen to be fined heavily for the hit. The Bears also lost Chris Spencer to a knee injury. He stayed on the sidelines and tried to get in on an extra point try. Charles Tillman had his ankle rolled up on in a scrum, but like Spencer, stayed on the sideline with his helmet on and kept trying to get back in the game. Matt Forte got crushed and twisted on a third quarter run. The hope is that it isn’t a high-ankle sprain, but he went to the locker room and didn’t return. Devin Hester got concussed early and didn’t return. Lance Briggs was seen leaving the locker room in a walking boot. My guess is that’s a precautionary move and with a couple of days off and treatment, Briggs will be fine.
So was it a pyrrhic victory? Did the Bears win a battle that may end up costing them the war? As the severity of the injuries comes out this week, we’ll have a better idea.
What I Heard:
“We’re going to have to roll with the punches and go with the guys we have.” -Jay Cutler
The Bears offensive line did a great job yesterday. They stymied Jared Allen & Brian Robison. The only sack of Cutler came when Roberto Garza stepped on Cutler’s foot. Johnathan Scott was rock solid at right tackle. Cutler even praised him for playing with an edge. It’s pretty amazing that with the injuries to Louis and Spencer that the line was able to function. Gabe Carimi had NEVER played guard before. He stepped in and did very well. The Bears didn’t turtle either. They could’ve decided to run simple dive plays to Michael Bush to try and get out without anymore injuries, but they kept pushing the ball down the field. The Bears often get criticized for lack of “adjustments.” Mike Tice, his staff and the players deserve an A for how they handled things.
“We had some good plays called.” -Leslie Frazier
No, you didn’t. I know this is a Bears blog, but I can’t let Frazier off the hook. This was his response to why Adrian Peterson didn’t get touches on critical third & fourth down calls. It’s ridiculous. To start the fourth quarter, a touchdown pulls the Vikings within 11. From the 8-yard line, they ran consecutive shotgun sets and ended up with two incompletions. The Vikings needed two yards!
Forget that he’s the best runningback in the game for a second. The perplexing part is that he had the hot hand. The Vikings drove the ball 72 yards on that drive, and Peterson had 38 yards on four carries. An average of over nine yards per carry. The two biggest plays of the drive and he doesn’t see the ball? That’s dumb football.
“I thought he had a concussion.” -Gabe Carimi
Officially, Lance Louis’ injury is listed as his knee, but initially, I agreed with Carimi. Louis took what I thought was an illegal hit from Jared Allen. Louis was coming to the back side of the play, Allen lined him up and popped him helmet to helmet. It was dirty and cheap. I’m all for the big hit and Allen could’ve blown Louis up with a clean hit because Louis wasn’t looking for him. Allen launched himself and went high. Both of those things are illegal. The officials missed it, but I’m guessing the league won’t. Expect Mullett-Man to get fined.
What I Was Told:
“He said to me, ‘Stop being selfish!'” -Brandon Marshall
Marshall was explaining the Matt Spaeth touchdown. In the huddle, Cutler called “X-Slide” which is play where “X” receiver starts his route behind the offensive line, crosses the field and should be able to catch the ball and turn it up. It’s a play they run for Marshall. The only problem was that Marshall was the “Z” receiver in the formation. Eric Weems was playing the “X” and when Marshall realized it he said that he and Weems should switch spots. That’s when he got the selfish retort from Weems who wanted a touch in the red zone, too. In the end it doesn’t matter, cause the Bears got the TD, but in the future I think all of us would feel more comfortable if Marshall went ‘diva’ if the situation happens again.
What he’s done is amazing. So far he has 1,017 yards and 8 touchdowns on 81 catches. If he stays healthy Marty Booker’s team record of 100 catches and 1,189 in a season is going down.
“Someone was going to get them, why not us?” -Dave Toub
A lot of people asked me why the Bears used the Adam Podlesh fake on an extra point, so I asked Toub. The Vikings had lined up with that same overload look for the past four weeks. So the Bears exploited the formation. They also wanted to put Adam Podlesh’s athleticism on tape. They may never use that fake again, but every special team coordinator they play is going to have to account for it.
Podlesh had that hip-flexor injury to start the year but is finally healthy now and even though he’s a punter, this guy is an athlete. In high school, Podlesh played fullback. He ran a 4.4/40 and had the fastest 200 and 400 meter times in the state of New York (for a Prep) as a junior.
“You say that like it’s a joke, but that’s what was going to happen.” -Kellen Davis
I walked up to Davis and quipped: “Were you ready to go play tackle?” This was his response. He explained that he and Matt Spaeth were next up if another injury happened on the offensive line. He would’ve gone to right tackle. Expect the Bears to keep an extra lineman active for the Seahawks game. They went with seven on Sunday with newly elevated James Brown being the guy left out vs. the Vikings.
“We were a little nervous about it.” -Henry Melton
“If they needed me to do it, I would’ve done it.” -Israel Idonije
The defensive linemen can count and they saw what was happening on the O-line. They were all wondering if they were going to be asked to play offense. The problem is that you want to have someone who understands what the blocking schemes are, which is why the tight ends are a better choice. And if you’re thinking Patrick Mannelly… NO! At this point in the season Mannelly is probably around 250lbs and I’m being generous. I’m not even sure if Mannelly has the right pads on to play on the offensive line.
For more Bears information, follow Laurence on Twitter @LaurenceWHolmes.