Hoge’s Notes: Bears Blow Multiple Chances To End Game
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By Adam Hoge-
MINNEAPOLIS (CBS) — Robbie Gould’s missed 47-yard field goal in overtime will go down as the play that cost the Bears’ a crucial win in the middle of a playoff chase, but it was just one of many opportunities they had to end the game.
The Bears took a 20-10 lead into the fourth quarter, but the defense allowed Matt Cassel — who played the second half in place of the concussed Christian Ponder — to complete 6-of-9 passes for 53 yards on a 13-play touchdown drive that ended with a 8-yard pass to Greg Jennings.
That’s when things started to get weird inside the Metrodome.
Two plays later, Josh McCown made a rare bad mistake with the football when he tried to shovel it forward to Matt Forte instead of taking the sack. Vikings linebacker Audie Cole batted it out of the air and it landed in the arms of Bears right guard Kyle Long, who caught it legally. Unfortunately, he didn’t hold onto it, as Cole and Shariff Floyd knocked it loose and linebacker Marvin Mitchell recovered it for the Vikings.
“Just not a good play. Not a smart play,” McCown said after the game.
That was followed by another mistake three plays later when Bears linebacker Jon Bostic made a nice stop on third down but was called for a taunting penalty.
“I need to be smarter,” Bostic said. “I cannot put the team in that position.”
And yet fellow rookie Khaseem Greene bailed out both McCown and Bostic two plays later when he intercepted a deflected pass and returned it 49 yards to the 50-yard-line.
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Ironically, Bostic’s penalty allowed that play to happen because otherwise the Vikings would have had a short field goal to tie the game. But the Bears could not take advantage of the good fortune.
Greene had a chance to return the interception for a touchdown, which would have given the Bears a 10-point lead with 4:51 to go, but defensive end Shea McClellin failed to block Cassel and the quarterback made the touchdown saving tackle.
“I don’t know exactly how it will look on film, but I definitely wanted to score,” Greene said afterward.
The film will show a missed block that would have given the Bears a win. And yet, the offense still had the ball at mid-field with all the momentum and a chance to pad their lead.
Instead, they went three-and-out, failing to convert a 2nd-and-1 and a 3rd-and-1. It was the fourth time in five tries the Bears failed to convert a third down with only one or two yards to go.
Still, the defense had a chance to make a stop with the Vikings facing a 4th-and-11 from their own 8-yard-line moments later. Instead, they allowed a 20-yard completion to Jerome Simpson and from there, the Vikings had no trouble moving the ball down the field. Cassel completed passes of 20, 24, 17 and 20 yards in the midst of just five plays and Blair Walsh was able to hit a 30-yard field goal to tie the game at 20 with 24 seconds left.
And yet, the Bears still had one more shot before overtime. Devin Hester returned the ensuing kickoff 57 yards to put the Bears at the 50-yard-line with three timeouts. But McCown got sacked on first down and was only able to complete a 2-yard pass to Earl Bennett on second down, leaving Robbie Gould just a sliver of a chance to hit a 66-yard field goal as time expired. He came up short.
“That was disappointing not to get in range then,” McCown said.
As if the Bears deserved another chance to get the win, they won the coin toss at the start of overtime but failed to move the ball past the Vikings’ 47-yard-line and were forced to punt. Even then they were given another break when Rhett Ellison committed a face mask penalty, wiping out a game-winning 39-yard field goal by Walsh. The kicker then missed a 57-yarder two plays later.
All of that happened before Gould’s miss in overtime.
“Robbie didn’t lose the game for us,” Trestman said. “There’s a lot of different ways to lose. No one play loses the game.”
No, but not taking advantage of six different opportunities to ice the game does.
Jeffery Breaks Own Receiving Record
Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery is only in his second season, but he has already set the Bears’ franchise record for single-game receiving yards — twice. After breaking the record with 218 yards against the Saints in Week 5, he went for 249 yards and two touchdowns on 12 catches Sunday against the Vikings.
“(The game) has slowed down a little bit, but at the same time, you try to get better each and every day,” Jeffery said. “I practice hard every day and get better and try to make better plays.”
He may have made the most impressive play by an NFL receiver this season with his second touchdown grab, snagging a 46-yard pass by McCown just inside the pile-on, holding it over Vikings cornerback Chris Cook to secure the grab as he went to the ground.
“It was one of the greatest catches I have ever seen,” fellow wide receiver Brandon Marshall said.
Some Improvement On Defense
While the Bears’ defense fell apart a little bit late in the game, it did look better overall, especially on the defensive line. With Stephen Paea back from a toe injury and Jeremiah Ratliff playing his first game with the Bears, the unit created a lot of pressure, totaling five sacks on the day and batting four passes down at the line of scrimmage.
Julius Peppers was especially impactful, recording 2.5 sacks, two tackles for loss and three quarterback hurries.
The defense forced four straight punts to start the game, but all the offense had to show for it at the time was a 3-0 lead.
- Safety Craig Steltz, who played for the injured Major Wright, had a team-high 12 tackles.
- Adam Podlesh had a season-high seven punts, with four of them coming inside Vikings’ territory and another at the Bears’ 46-yard-line. On one of them, Trestman passed on letting Robbie Gould attempt a 55-yard field goal.
- There were no significant injuries of note, although cornerback Zack Bowman left during the last series of overtime with an unspecified injury and was examined after the game.
Adam Hoge covers the Bears for CBSChicago.com and is a frequent contributor to 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter at @AdamHoge.