Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Week 10: Bears 27, Vikings 13
Let us rejoice over the fact that Brett Favre's season--and essentially his career--came to an end on Sunday. With the Bears handing the Vikings their sixth loss, they essentially put the inscription on Minnesota's tombstone, and probably put the final nail in the coffin when it comes to Brett Favre's career as well. At 3-6 and basically out of the playoff race, there's actually very little reason for him to continue playing. I realize it's tough to bench a $16 million future Hall of Famer, but the Vikings would be better off seeing whether they have a future with Tarvaris Jackson. As he has done several times this year, Favre contributed significantly to his team's loss, throwing three picks and losing a fumble. He had just 170 yards on the day.
Minnesota found themselves in a position nearly identical to the one they were in last week--down 14 with about four minutes to go. But whereas the Arizona Cardinals allowed Favre and Peterson to snag an overtime victory, the Bears defense stayed strong and secured the win.
It was the best the Bears have looked all year. They played well against the Cowboys in
Week 2, but then we learned that the Cowboys are a bunch of turds. The Bears outgained the Vikings, forced more turnovers, won the time of possession battle and kept the Vikings from scoring a touchdown on any of their three chances in the red zone.
There were a couple phases where the Bears struggled--they had way too many penalties (11 for 116 yards), and Cutler made one inexcusable decision to throw into traffic in the end zone when throwing it away would have resulted in three points.
But I wanted to get the bad stuff out of the way early--there are a lot of positives to get to.
Cutler looked like an entirely different quarterback. He was consistently able to avoid the rush, moving around in the backfield and buying himself time. He was as mobile as an iPhone. (Sorry, that was bad.) He completed passes to nine different guys and threw three touchdowns. When I was in Denver this week, the rental car shuttle driver was pining for the days when the Broncos had Cutler. I told him that Cutler has not exactly exceeded expectations in Chicago, but he was adamant that Cutler went to a Pro Bowl for a reason and that with a good offensive line, Bears fans would absolutely love him. I definitely loved him on Sunday.
But it wasn't all Cutler. Martz actually called more running plays than passing plays, and the Bears had 130 yards on the ground. The offensive balance was a nice thing to see.
**We interrupt this game recap to bring you the STAT OF THE DAY! Third downs often tell the story in an NFL game, and that was the case on Sunday. While the Bears have struggled mightily in that area this season, they were a very successful 11-for-19 against Minnesota. On the other hand, the Bears defense held the Vikings to 1-for-9. And that was today's STAT OF THE DAY!
The Bears' special teams didn't miss out on the fun either. Rashied Davis and Devin Hester each had a nice kick return and Hester had a sweet punt return down the sideline as well. Hester added a touchdown reception in what turned out to be a big day for him with 185 all-purpose yards.
In pretty much any sport, it's always crucial to win within your division. After Sunday's win, the Bears have now beaten every NFC North team (and if you think about it, they beat themselves when they played the Redskins, so they've literally beaten every NFC North team). The win brought them into a tie with the Packers, though the Bears are technically in first by virtue of their head-to-head win over them.
There was more good news for the Bears on Sunday as well: both Chad Henne and Chad Pennington suffered injuries, meaning the Bears' opponent this Thursday night might be forced to start Tyler Thigpen who has played all of 18 NFL games in his life. The Dolphins are still no pushover, though. They beat the Titans on Sunday, they throw a lot of different things at you, including the Wildcat, and Thigpen actually had a decent season back in 2008 with the Chiefs.
In other action, God smiled upon us on Sunday by allowing Gus Johnson to go all Gus Johnson on the best play in the NFL this season. Please pay special attention to the famous Gus Johnson Laugh which comes at the :28 mark. The stupid NFL won't let YouTube show it, so here's the link.