Bears-Patriots Recap: Studs and Duds, and What We Learned
To the delight of many of its home fans, the New England Patriots destroyed the Chicago Bears 51-23, with most of the Bears' points coming when the game was already over (which was approximately at halftime). Tom Brady was a jaw-dropping 27-of-27 when targeting Brandon LaFell, Rob Gronkowski, and Tim Wright, as that receiving trio combined for 5 touchdowns in that game (three of them from Gronkowski alone). The running game also made major contributions in this game, as rookie running back and undrafted free agent Jonas Gray accumulated 86 rushing yards on 17 carries.
The Patriots defense deserves a lot of credit for the outcome as well, as the Patriots' pass rush sacked Bears quarterback Jay Cutler 3 times and caused a fumble that was returned by Rob Ninkovich for a touchdown. By halftime (which was when the game was essentially over), the Bears offense had only generated 7 points.
The Patriots face a much tougher matchup--the Denver Broncos--this upcoming Sunday, who could end up being a major handful if the Patriots aren't careful. But if they're anywhere near as successful as they were against the Bears, the Patriots have a good shot of winning this game.
Here are the main studs and duds from Sunday's game:
1. Tom Brady
Once again proving his naysayers (who said he was on the decline and no longer elite, or even good) wrong, Brady put together one of the best perfomances of his career. He frequently shedded the Bears weak defense, as he was 30/35 for 354 yards and 5 touchdowns. Brady has really been on a tear over the past four games, and was awarded a grade of +8.9 by Pro Football Focus for his historically great performance, as none of his passes were labeled as being off-target (of those 5 incompletions, 2 were drops by Julian Edelman, 1 was a drop by Shane Vereen, and the last incompletion was a miscommunication).
2. Rob Gronkowski
Like Brady, Gronkowski has been nothing short of fantastic over the past four games (except for maybe the Jets game). The gigantic tight end looks like he's (finally) fully healthy, which is great news for a Patriots offense that struggled for much of its first four games.
3. Brandon Lafell
Since Week 4 versus Oakland, Lafell has developed a strong rapport with Tom Brady, and it's shown in his stats. After being catchless over the first two games of the season, Lafell has accumulated 30 receptions for 461 yards and 4 touchdowns over the past 5 weeks.
4. Darrelle Revis
Leading into this game, Revis had been having a very up-and-down season. While he had put together geat performances versus Minnesota, Cincinnati, and Buffalo, his other perfomances were either a mixed bag (versus Miami and the Jets) or bad (versus Kansas City and Oakland). Against the Bears, however, Revis was truly at his best. He shut down Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall, allowing just 1 of 6 passes for 11 yards when Revis covered him (according to Pro Football Focus). In addition, according to Pro Football Focus, Cutler had an atrocious passer rating of 6.3 and an interception when targting Revis.
5. Offensive Line
After struggling mightily through the first 4 games, the Patriots' offensive line has made a lot of progress over the past 5 weeks. The unit was particularly outstanding on Sunday, as Brady wassn't sacked or hit in the game. This game showed that when the offensive line and Gronkowski are clicking, the Patriots' offense is hard to contain.
6. Jonas Gray
The undrafted rookie runnning back did a great job in place of the injured Stevan Ridley, as he shredded the Bears' run defense with relative ease.
7. Tim Wright
The 2nd string tight end had his second great performance of the season (the first one being against Cincinnati), as he recorded 7 receptions for 61 yards and a touchdown. The Tim Wright-Logan Mankins trade has finally started to pay off.
8. Rob Ninkovich
After a rough start through the first seven games of the season, the 6th year Patriots put on a great performance against the Bears, registering one quarterback hit, one stuffed run, and a 15-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown.
1. Prevent Defense
Whie 16 of the Bears' points came when the game was already out of hand, the Patriots' prevent defense inflated Jay Cutler's stats tremendously. As a result, Cutler's numbers made his performance look a lot better than it actually was, as he piled up 3 passing touchdowns and a passer ating of over 100.
2. Julian Edelman
While he had a terrific 42-yard punt return, Edelman was largely invisible in the passing game for the second straight week, as he notched just one reception for 14 yards. He also dropped two passes in the game, bringing his drop total to four for the season.