Oh brother. Another Bears/Packers game that didn’t turn out the way Bears fans were hoping. Instead, the Green Bay Packers (5-4) found a way to once again beat the Chicago Bears (3-6), this time 23-16, despite the fact the Bears were favored for the first time since 2008 and Green Bay was dealing with massive amounts of injuries.
This game was a microcosm of a quarter century of Bears vs Packers history. In fact, one play in particular was a microcosm.
a community, place, or situation regarded as encapsulating in miniature the characteristic qualities or features of something much larger.
You know which play I’m talking about. Green Bay was leading 10-3 early in the 2nd quarter. Chicago was driving the ball. They faced a 3rd and 13 on the Packers 25 yard line with 8:09 left in the 1st half. Rookie QB #10 Mitch Trubisky thew a screen pass to RB #30 Benny Cunningham on a nice play call by OC Dowell Loggains. Cunningham surprisingly took it down inside the 5 yard line. THEN, it got weird, just as it “got weird” so many times over the last 25 years. Cunningham surged for the goal line as he got shoved out-of-bounds. He stretched the football inside the pylon in trying to score a touchdown. What do you think happened? On a slippery, rainy day in Soldier Field, he lost control of the ball and it hit the pylon. The on-field referees ruled Cunningham out of bounds on the 2 yard line. Bears HC John Fox challenged the play pretty quickly hoping to get a TD with the help of the instant replay. Fox ended up winning the challenge…..BUT oh no! The call showed the refs were wrong. He wasn’t out of bounds. Instead, Benny lost the ball, it hit the pylon, the ball was turned over to Green Bay on a touchback, and the game was essentially over.
Typical. Can we blame Fox for this? I’m not so sure. First of all, it was Cunningham’s fault. DON’T STRETCH FOR THE ENDZONE UNLESS IT’S 4TH DOWN! Cunningham admitted after the game that the coaches always preach this but he didn’t listen. Secondly, even if Fox did NOT challenge, it’s likely Packers HC Mike McCarthy would have challenged it once the Green Bay guys saw the fumble. In essence, the Bears were screwed either way, UNLESS they hustled up to the line and snapped the ball before Green Bay saw the inevitable overturn from Cunningham’s boneheaded play. Was it even the right decision by the NFL replay officials? Debatable. Even though I really like and respect Fox color analyst Chris Spielman, I thought he made a blatantly wrong statement when he said, ” Correct call, no doubt about it.” I disagree. It was clearly debatable. There was definite doubt. Cunningham may have had possession of the ball as his foot dragged out-of-bounds. Therefore, it would have been ruled Bears ball around the 1 yard line (the spot where the ball was when he touched out of bounds). How was it so clear? It wasn’t. See for yourself:
For 26 seasons now the Packers have held this edge over the Bears. One way or another, they almost always come out on top, through either great plays on their part, awful plays on the Bears part, or just simply luck. L-U-C-K. Green Bay has it. Chicago does not have it. It’s gotten to be laughable. All you can do is laugh at this misery. The football gods are in on this. I know it. So how does one reverse it? That’s another mystery question for the ages.
LB #44 Nick Kwiatkoski – Kwiatkoski had some decent stats but he didn’t impress me that much. However, in a game like this he deserves a Game Ball. Kwiatkoski filled in admirably for starting ILB #59 Danny Trevathan who sat out with a calf injury. Kwiatkoski made 10 tackles, 9 of which were solos, 1 TFL, 1 sack, and 1 QB hit. Nonetheless, one of the main factors of the Bears defense looking weaker than usual was the absence of Trevathan. They need him moving forward. For a backup, Kwiatkoski played decently but he needs to improve in coverage.
OLB #94 Leonard Floyd – Floyd provided plenty of pressure once again. The problem was the Bears back six or seven weren’t good in coverage on Sunday. If Hundley had less wide open receivers, Floyd may have registered 3, 4, or even 5 sacks. Just watch the highlight tape. Floyd was all over Hundley consistently. Boy, is he fun to watch! This guy has superstar written all over him…..IF the Bears help him out.
WR #17 Dontrelle Inman – In last week’s Preview, I mentioned Inman as our player to “Watch Out For……”. That turned out to be apropos as Inman burst onto the scene with 6 catches for 88 yards on 8 targets from Trubisky. Of course, like any Bears/Packers game, we need to temper our enthusiasm as Inman dropped a catchable ball on a 3rd and 10 on the last possession of the game which could have turned into a game-tying TD drive. Oh well……maybe next week.
QB #10 Mitch Trubisky – The education of Mitchell Trubisky continues. This week in his 5th start, Tru threw for a career high 297 passing yards on 21 of 35 attempts. He reached career highs in all of those categories but strangely didn’t record a rushing attempt for the 1st time in his young career. However, he did get sacked 5 times by Green Bay, so you wonder if there was too much “overcoaching” leading up to this game by Loggains with the attempt to keep him in the pocket. If so, it didn’t work. Of course, maybe we should credit Green Bay with a game plan to keep Trubisky in the pocket. Nah, fuhgetabouttit.
Player of the Game
K #4 Connor Barth – I don’t know about you, but the “Dutch Lion” was worried about each of Barth’s attempts on Sunday. I don’t know if it was more the weather or Barth’s history on longer kicks, or maybe it was just that I wanted the Bears to win so bad this week. Nonetheless, the worries went unfounded as Barth had a big week. He hit all 3 of his field goal attempts as well as his lone PAT. His FG’s were from 45, 44, and 49 yards. Those were all potentially difference making kicks so let’s give Barth some props. He scored 10 of the Bears 16 points on the afternoon.
CB #23 Kyle Fuller – If you watched the game at all on Sunday you could see that Kyle Fuller was not good. He was just plain bad. Hundley picked on him all day. Some of it was bad coverage. Mix in a few missed tackles. Add in some bad luck and you had a day to forget for Fuller. It’s a shame too after he had been playing so well as of late. Moving forward, does DC Vic Fangio consider putting CB #31 Marcus Cooper back in the starting role?
RB #30 Benny Cunningham – Cunningham recorded his 2nd most touches in a game this year. My question is…….why? He carried the ball once for a no gain. He caught 3 passes for 32 yards including the fateful “Microcosm” play. I don’t want to be overly critical of Cunningham, but those screen plays would be excellent plays for rookie Joker Back #29 Tarik Cohen. Why wasn’t Cohen in there for those plays? We can’t blame Cunningham but we can blame Loggains and/or the RB coach Curtis Modkins. In a game in which Cohen received 1 carry and 1 reception, I’m left wondering. Was Cohen hurt? Was Howard hurt? I haven’t heard anything so, I guess I’m a little confused.
“The Football Gods” – When will this Bears drought end? Trust me, as a Bears fan my entire life living near the Wisconsin border, surrounded by friends and family that chose the dark side, it’s getting unBearable. When will the “Football Gods” reward the Chicago Bears and their fans? Enough is enough. To all Packers fans, you had your run. Now get ready because soon it will be over. In this long and illustrious rivalry dating back almost 100 years, this quarter century drought has gone on far too long. I pray to you, the “Football Gods” for a new era to begin.
In the Preview, I wrote:
“I can see the tide a turnin’. Bears roll this Sunday to tie the all-time series.
Chicago Bears 23 Green Bay Packers 10″
RESULT: Green Bay Packers 23 Chicago Bears 16.
- I was wrong. We were all wrong. For what it’s worth, only one writer in the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times was correct in predicting a Packers victory. That writer was Rick Morrissey in the Sun-Times. The other 12 of us were wrong.
- Chicago Bears : 3-6
- Dutch Lion : 5-4
- The Bears stay at home for another NFC North battle at Soldier Field, this time vs the Detroit Lions. Look for my Preview in a couple of days.