Bears vs Seahawks: Chicago's Winners and Losers in Loss to Seattle
For starters, the Packers are now in control of the NFC North, holding the tiebreaker with Chicago.
As far as the wild card goes, the Seahawks now hold the tiebreaker over both the Bears and the Packers, meaning if it comes down to it, the Bears would be either the division winner or fall all the way to the sixth seed in the playoffs and would have to travel to either Green Bay or New York in the Wild Card round.
The Bears also now have to win out in the division and beat Minnesota, Green Bay and Detroit in four weeks coming up to win the division and host a playoff game.
It wasn't all bad for Chicago on Sunday, though. Brandon Marshall showed once again why he is a Pro Bowler and one of the best receivers in the NFL. Cutler showed that he can bring the Bears back in any game, and as long as he's healthy, the Bears will have a shot at the NFC North divisional title.
In any game, there are winners and there are losers that emerge. Those winners and losers are all listed right here.
Winner: Jay Cutler
When the Bears got the ball back with 22 seconds remaining in the game Sunday against the Seahawks, there was immense pressure on the offense, especially Jay Cutler. The Bears had to drive down the field and score at least a field goal to keep the team alive.
No small task; however you never would have guessed by looking at the face of Cutler.
Cutler just stood still and silent on the sideline, staring right ahead of him and assessing the situation he was in. The second that he got in the game, he threw one single pass to Brandon Marshall and brought the team right back into the game.
Cutler went 17-of-26 with 233 yards passing and two touchdowns with no interceptions on Sunday, good enough for a QB rating of 119.6.
Chicago's loss on Sunday had nothing to do with Cutler. Cutler showed once again why he has the best QB rating in the fourth quarter out of any QB in the NFL this season. His late-game heroics and poise have kept the Bears in any game he plays in, including going down the field to force overtime against the Seahawks on Sunday.
Cutler is a winner because he continued his dominance late in the game and continues to improve each and every game.
That picture about says it all. Chicago's defense played uncharacteristically awful late in the game against Seattle, ultimately leading to the downfall of the Bears in this game.
All game the Bears were in the driver seat and had complete control, except when it mattered most.
The Bears allowed Seattle to convert on fourth down on their touchdown drive late in the fourth quarter, and once overtime came, they weren't much better. Seattle continued to convert on third-down opportunities, and there's only so many times a defender can fall down and blow their assignments before the other team is going to capitalize on it.
The Bears allowed Russell Wilson to go 23-for-37 with 293 yards, not intercepting him once but allowing him to throw two touchdowns, both coming at critical points in the game.
Chicago lost this game because of its secondary. If it wants to even compete with Aaron Rodgers and the Packers in a few weeks, its secondary is going to have to find its old way of interceptions and forced fumbles with lockdown defense being played against opposing receivers and quarterbacks.
The secondary is going to have to make a dramatic improvement in two weeks time, or Chicago is looking at missing the playoffs completely this season.
Winner: Brandon Marshall
With 22 seconds left on the clock and over 80 yards to go for the Bears, was there every any little shred of doubt that the ball wasn't going to be thrown Marshall's way?
Marshall had another career game today, catching 10 balls for 165 yards. The next highest receiver for Chicago was Forte, who had three.
As long as Cutler and Marshall are both healthy, the Bears will be able to stay in games with their offense. Whether or not their defense steps up to help them is a different story.
This is a Bears team we aren't used to seeing, with all the fans wincing when Chicago didn't win the coin toss and its defense would have to take the field.
Nonetheless, Marshall once again proved to everyone that he is indeed one of the best receivers in the entire league, and that even late in a game when everyone knows the ball is going to him, there's nothing anyone can do about it.
Marshall brings up morale on offense, makes plays to keep the Bears in games and is a leader for each and every player on the team. He leaves this game a winner and showed that the Cutler/Marshall combo can be even more deadly than people think.
Loser: Rush Defense
The Bears held Marshawn Lynch to just 87 yards on 19 carries on Sunday, so why does the rush defense end up in the loss column? The answer lies in the guy wearing No. 3 for the Seahawks, Mr. Russell Wilson.
Wilson ran just nine times, but gained 71 yards on those rushes. That's good enough for 7.9 yards per carry.
The Bears just didn't have it on the defensive side of the ball on Sunday. Part of that was due to fatigue. Part was due to injuries, especially Tillman and Briggs, who both left the game against the Vikings in a walking boot.
You can talk about injuries and fatigue all you want, but when it comes down to it, the Bears just couldn't stop Wilson no matter what he did.
When a quarterback has the threat of passing and running, a special approach has to be taken to stop him. The Bears approached him by only stacking three linemen on the line in the second half, which let Wilson run all over the Bears.
On two third down conversions in the fourth quarter and overtime, Wilson just simply stepped outside the pocket and ran, picking up both conversions.
The Bears couldn't contain, and that was what ended up losing the game for Chicago. The Bears need to do a better job of rushing the quarterback, because when someone got in Wilson's face, he would get rattled and throw the ball away.
The defensive line ends up losers from this game because it showed that all an opposing quarterback has to do is step outside the pocket, and the entire field is his. It needs to fix this and fast, or the Bears could be watching the playoffs from home this season.
Winner: Matt Forte
Entering this week, Forte wasn't even sure if he would be playing against the Seahawks. Well, he played, and boy did he show up in a big way.
Forte had just 66 yards on the ground against Seattle on Sunday, but it was his receptions that kept the Bears fighting in this one. Forte had three receptions for 30 yards, averaging 10 yards per catch.
The combination of Forte's running and catching is what makes him such a versatile player, and one that is so hard to guard.
The play that really stands out from this game is when Seattle blitzed, and it appeared as if Forte was just being lazy, as he barely touched anyone who was coming in to smash Jay Cutler and send him back to the dark ages.
Forte fooled everyone, though, as he just turned around, caught a little floating pass from Cutler coming just over the heads of the defenders and proceeded to turn on his amazing speed and turn the ball up field for a first down.
Forte keeps the Bears in games because he can hit players from anywhere, and next time those defenders come rushing in to get Cutler, they're going to hesitate for a second and look back at Forte to see what he is doing.
As we all know, one second can be huge in the game of football, especially with a receiver like Brandon Marshall who only needs a few seconds to get open.
Forte, even when he isn't running, is always helping the Bears, and that is why he ends up a winner from today's game.
Loser: Injuries Keep Coming
The Bears have had their share of injury problems, and the problems got even bigger against the Seahawks on Sunday.
Against the Vikings, the Bears lost a couple of offensive linemen, a position they were already thin at. Among other injuries, Devin Hester suffered a concussion and was not able to play against Seattle as a result. Lance Briggs and Charles Tillman both were seen leaving the Vikings game in walking boots, and it was later revealed that Tillman has a chipped bone in his foot, which was clear to fans against Seattle.
On Sunday, the injury woes just kept coming. Earl Bennett, who scored the first touchdown of the game, didn't come out of the locker room at halftime, and it was revealed that he had suffered a concussion and wouldn't return, meaning the Bears would be without Bennett, Hester or Jeffery in the receiving corps.
On defense, the Bears lost Tim Jennings, who is the team leader in interceptions and candidate for Defensive Player of the Year this season. Brian Urlacher was also seen getting off the field slowly just before Seattle scored to win the game in overtime.
Every team has to deal with injuries, and the Bears seem to have their hands full dealing with all the injuries they have to their starting lineup right now. They are going to need all the help they have to beat Green Bay in two weeks, which means players need to rest up and get healthy, and you may see players limited in practice all week.
Winner: Robbie Gould
Robbie Gould is one of the best kickers in the NFL, and he belongs to the Chicago Bears. Now that's something Bears fans can be happy about after today's game.
Once Brandon Marshall made that amazing catch to bring the Bears back into the game with 22 seconds left, there was no doubt in anyone's mind on whether that ball was going through the uprights or not.
Gould once again made a clutch field goal to send the Bears into overtime, a field goal that kept hope alive just a bit longer in that game.
Had the Bears had a worse kicker they weren't very confident in, they would have had a tough choice on whether to go for the touchdown or kick the field goal, possibly losing the game either way.
While the Bears eventually lost the game, Gould showed yet again that he is one of the most reliable kickers in the entire NFL and that he will absolutely come in handy with three divisional games coming up in the next four weeks.
Gould is also going to come in handy when the Bears and Packers face off, because it's no secret that Mason Crosby has been shaky at best lately. Having a solid kicker could make all the difference in a tight game, and that is why Robbie Gould walks away from this game as a winner.
The Bears just got the fundamentals of football all wrong on Sunday, and that's why they fell all the way to the sixth seed in the NFC playoff picture.
They couldn't get outside on defense and contain, something that has already been addressed, but the problem was so severe it needs to be looked at again.
Simple plays where nobody was open would turn into a 15-yard gain for Seattle when all Russell Wilson had to do was step outside the pocket and look at the wide-open field in front of him.
When the Bears did get contact with players, it usually ended like the picture above. The Bears somehow fell from the Monsters of the Midway to a team that couldn't make a basic tackle and take a player down.
On the touchdown that the Seahawks scored with 22 seconds to go in the game, Golden Tate was touched by at least four defensive players, all who just hit Tate of grabbed at his legs, and Tate was able to get right into the end zone and put Seattle ahead.
Next week, the Bears are facing a tough NFC North opponent in the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings have Adrian Peterson, a player who is almost guaranteed to get over 100 yards rushing in every game he plays in. Peterson is the best in the league at avoiding tackles and getting yards after contact, and if the Bears continue to arm tackle, Peterson will make them pay.
The Chicago Bears have one week to fix the problem, or the Bears could end up losing to Minnesota and being knocked out of the playoff picture all together.