Final Score: Chicago 38, Cleveland 31
|Chicago Bears Game Grades|
|Position Unit||First-Half Grade||Final Grade|
|vs. Browns Week 15|
Game Analysis for the Chicago Bears
Pass Offense: Despite throwing two early interceptions (one of which was returned for a touchdown), quarterback Jay Cutler appeared surprisingly comfortable in his first game back from injury. Cutler benefited from a late injury to Cleveland's star cornerback Joe Haden, and found ways to take advantage with scoring drives. He finished the game 22-of-31 for 265 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions.
Run Offense: Chicago went to the ground early and often in this contest, with mostly positive results. As he did a week ago, running back Matt Forte found a way to take over the game late. He racked up an impressive 127 yards on 24 carries. Michael Bush added 44 yards and a score on just three attempts.
Pass Defense: The Bears did an excellent job of limiting Browns quarterback Jason Campbell and his No. 1 target, Josh Gordon. Chicago took part in the defensive scoring in the second half, when Zack Bowman took his second interception back for a touchdown. Campbell finished the game 23-of-39 for 273 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. Gordon had just three receptions for 67 yards and a score.
Run Defense: Chicago’s 32nd-ranked run defense (157 yards per game allowed) was not tested early by Cleveland, who was without starting back Willis McGahee. Playing in the first game of his NFL career, Edwin Baker carried the load for the Browns. He produced 38 yards on eight carries. Cleveland also got help from backup tight end MarQueis Gray, who rushed for 30 yards out of the Wildcat formation.
Special Teams: There was some good and some bad from the Chicago special teams unit in this game. The most exciting plays came from return specialist Devin Hester, who had a number of big returns, especially in the first half. For the game, Hester averaged 35 yards per kick return and 21 yards per punt return. However, a holding penalty in the first half negated a field goal by Robbie Gould.
Coaching: Head Coach Marc Trestman deserves credit for sticking with Cutler despite a number of early mistakes. Trestman has not wavered from his position standing behind Cutler this season and he showed it in this game. Defensive coordinator Mel Tucker also deserves credit for finding ways to take Gordon out of Cleveland’s offense, something Bill Belichick could not do a week ago.
First-Half Analysis for the Chicago Bears
Pass Offense: Cutler produced mixed results in his first game back from injury. He appeared comfortable in the pocket and his passes were crisp. However, he tossed an all-too-familiar interception in the end zone on the game’s opening drive. His second-quarter interception was returned for a touchdown (Browns safety Tashaun Gipson picked off both passes).
Still, Cutler managed to redeem himself with a touchdown strike just before halftime. He finished the half 13-of-19 for 168 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.
Run Offense: Chicago tried to establish the run game early in the first half, though it did not prove to be as effective as it was last week against the Dallas Cowboys. Forte was still mostly efficient, gaining 44 yards on 11 carries. Michael Bush added four yards on two attempts, while receiver Alshon Jeffery was tackled for a three-yard loss on a reverse attempt.
Pass Defense: Chicago prevented Campbell from doing much damage in the first half. The Bears also managed to pick him off near midfield on the Browns’ second drive of the game. Virtually all of Campbell’s yardage came on screen passes and Gordon was held without a catch. Campbell finished the half just 8-of-15 for 103 yards with an interception.
Run Defense: Chicago may be fortunate that the Browns are light on experienced running backs, as its run defense (ranked 32nd, allowing 157 yards per game) is one of the team’s biggest weaknesses. Baker led the Browns with 28 yards on four carries.
Special Teams: There were a few bright spots from the Chicago special teams unit in the first half. Hester had a nifty 39-yard return on the game’s opening kickoff. He added a 40-yard return in the second quarter that put the ball near midfield. However, a holding penalty negated a Robbie Gould field goal in the second quarter and led to a punting situation.
Coaching: Part of Trestman’s task in this game is to get Cutler back into the swing of things. He did an excellent job of it in the first half. A solid mix of run and pass plays kept things efficient on the offensive side of the ball. Tucker deserves a ton of credit for taking away the Browns’ biggest offensive weapon, Gordon.