Monday, October 6, 2014

Bears Fall to Panthers

The Chicago Bears lost to the Carolina Panthers in an odd game yesterday that will be remembered by the Bears' poor offensive showing in the second half.  No touchdowns, but fumbles, sacks, and interceptions led to the Bears' defeat. It was a game where defensive plays on both sides of the ball set up most of the scores.

Fans should have known they were in for an odd game when the Panthers scored first on a fluke punt return.  Bears gunner Teddy Williams hit Panthers return man Philly Brown who was waiting for the ball to arrive.  Brown got knocked down and the ball was on the ground with two Bears and two Panthers piling up for it.  Brown who had gotten up saw the ball outside the pile and picked it up and ran 79 yards for the score. 

After the the Bears Isaiah Frey stripped the ball away from Panthers Kelvin Banjamin after a catch, the Bears moved down to the 10-yard line where Cutler hit Matt Forte for the score to tie the game.  When the Panthers had the ball again deep in their own territory, Newton was sacked by Willie Young and lost the ball.  Lamar Huston recovered on the 12 yard line.  On third down, Cutler ran it in for the score and the Bears were up, 14-7. 

A little later, Cutler hit Alshon Jeffery on the Panthers' 30-yard line and the big receiver dashed in for the score.  The Bears must have been feeling pretty good about this time. 

Newton and the Panthers came back with a 7 play, 79 yard drive that culminated in a 9-yard touchdown pass to former Bear Greg Olsen and the Bears lead was 21-14 at the half.

In the third quarter, Newton passed to Kelvin Banjamin in the end zone who could not make the grab, but Kyle Fuller who was covering him was called for pass interference.  Chris Ogbonnaya took the ball in from 1-yard out and after the extra point, the score was tied at 21-21. A Bears' drive stalled on the Carolina 27 and Gould kicked a field goal.  The Bears were ahead, 24-21.

In the fourth quarter both offenses were stymied for the first few possessions.  A Cutler pass intended for Santonio Holmes was intercepted by Thomas DeCoud that gave the  Panthers possession on the Bears 32.   When the Panthers drive stalled, Graham Ganno kicked a field goal and the score was tied once again, this time 24-24. 

On the Bears' possession, Forte fumbled and gave up the ball to the Panthers on the Bears 23.  A few minutes later, Newton hit Greg Olsen on a 6-yard touchdown pass.  The Panthers had the lead, 31-24. The Bears had the ball with 2:18 remaining. Cutler was able to move the ball up to the Bears 45, but a couple sacks and two incompletions gave the ball back to the Panthers for the final seconds. A couple knees by Newton and the game ended. 

An odd game all the way around, with the Bears feeling good in the first half, and the Panthers redeeming themselves in the second.   It was a difficult loss for the Bears and perhaps easy to place blame for, but difficult to do so with any conviction.  The Bears lost because of a some plays with poor execution--I don't see this one as a real learning experience for anyone.  I don't believe it was a poor game plan.  I don't believe Cutler was horrific--he had 28 completions on 36 pass attempts--a 77.78% completion percentage.  Yes he did have 2 interceptions.  Matt Forte hardly ever fumbles, fumbled on a critical drive at a critical location. 

As George Halas would do under the circumstances, you look ahead and focus on the next game: "Who do we play next, kid." 

Copyright 2014, Sporting Chance Press.