Tom Brady and the New England Patriots may have given the rest of the NFL a blueprint on how to pound on the Bears. It had nothing to do with conjuring up nasty weather, and a lot to do with keeping the Bears off balance with play-action and short passes across the middle.
CHICAGO — Tom Brady and the New England Patriots may have given the rest of the NFL a blueprint on how to pound on the Bears.
It had nothing to do with conjuring up nasty weather, and a lot to do with keeping the Bears off balance with play-action and short passes across the middle.
It also doesn’t hurt when you have a quarterback like Brady.
"He’s good. I think he had a cape flying around under his jersey, and we left the kryptonite at Halas Hall," safety Chris Harris said. "They were dinking and dunking, and we had a couple of missed tackles that hurt us. He’s good. He was taking what we were giving them, and they just kept moving the chains."
Even in cold, windy and snowy conditions, the Patriots bolted out to a 33-point first-half lead and eventually stormed to a 36-7 win Sunday over the Bears in Chicago. Brady ignored the 33-mph winds and completed 13-for-21 for 195 yards and two TDs; in the first half alone.
He finished with 369 yards through the air, and the Bears had no chance at a comeback.
"They beat us today, and it didn’t have anything to do with the conditions," Bears head coach Lovie Smith said. "We’ll put it behind us as soon as we can, but we’ll learn a lot from this situation, too. The No. 1 thing is that we don’t like this feeling we have right now. Sometimes you get your butt beat and you have to move on."
Throughout the day, New England’s short passing attack dismantled Chicago’s defense, which came into the game 12th in the league against the pass. Brady hit slot receiver Wes Welker on short cross-ins for two third-down conversions and wideout Deion Branch on another in New England’s first TD drive.
Then after Harris let an interception slide through his hands, Brady used Welker across the middle for a 19-yard completion to set up the second Pats TD.
And the rout was on.
"I was very close. It’s kind of sickening," Harris said of the interception that got away. "Any time you get missed opportunities, it’s like giving a team in baseball four outs. You can’t give him second chances, because if you give him second chances, he’ll definitely burn you."
Brady and the Patriots answered the question of whether or not the nasty weather would change their game plan early on. The answer was: No.
"You’re out in the cold weather, you’re out in whatever the elements are. You’ve got to be mentally tough enough to play your game in them," Brady said. "It’s one of those days that people would rather be cozied up near the fireplace, drinking hot chocolate, but we work on Sundays, and all of us are pretty committed to coming out here and trying to play well."
The Bears had just 33 yards of offense by halftime, while the Pats chalked up 273 first-half yards, 193 of them through the snow-blown air. They quickly upped the lead to 36-0 just over four minutes into the second half.
Chicago’s Chester Taylor strolled in for a 1-yard TD run midway through the third quarter to avoid the shutout, but it didn’t do much for the Bears’ sinking confidence level.
"It’s a tough one to take. We made too many mistakes and you can’t do that against a good team," Bears guard Roberto Garza said. "You definitely have to soak on it. It’s over, and we’ve got three tough games ahead of us… We know what’s at stake, we know what we have to do, now we just have to go out and do it. Not like we did today, though."
The Bears finished with 185 yards of offense, while New England racked up 475. The Pats were 12-of-19 on third-down conversions, they did not turn the ball over, and they held onto it for 39:41 of the 60-minute game. Chicago was 3-for-8 on third downs, finished with four turnovers and wound up with just 12 first downs compared to 27 for New England.
Bears reporter Jay Taft can be reached at 815-987-1384 or email@example.com.
Bears report card
Passing offense: F
Jay Cutler (12-for-26 for 152 yards, with a 32.9 passer rating) was not sharp. Bears wideouts (no one over 53 yards receiving) were not crisp. And the O-line (two sacks allowed and two holding penalties that nullified first downs) did not do its job. Other than that… Both fumbles were as a result of the passing game, and Cutler was picked off twice to stall nice Bear drives.
Rushing offense: F
The Bears had run the ball better the past five games, going over 130 yards in three of those and over 100 in each. Not on Sunday. Chicago rushed for 47 yards and had just 19 yards on the ground by the time it was 33-0 at halftime.
Passing defense: F
Tom Brady (27-for-40 for 369 yards and two TDs) dissected the middle of the Bears defense, even in the middle of a snowstorm. Two Pats wideouts (Deion Branch at 151 and Wes Welker at 115) went over 100 yards receiving, and Brady was sacked three times, but never in crucial situations.
Rushing defense: C-
It’s hard to excited about anything the Bears did Sunday, but they did keep the Patriots from running up and down the field on them; although they never really had to. New England finished up with 124 yards on 35 carries, led by BenJarvus Green-Ellis (21-87).
Special teams: B
Returnmen Danieal Manning (124 yards on four kickoff returns) and Devin Hester (91 yards on three total returns) showed up, but it didn’t matter. Manning nearly broke two for TDs in the first half and Hester had a 61-yard return in the third quarter, but neither had any chance of sparking a rally.
The Patriots did the same things against the Bears that they’ve done to other teams all season. It was a matter of knowing what was coming, but being unable to stop it anyway. A game plan that would limit Brady’s dinks and dunks would have been nice.
A Packers’ loss earlier in the day helped the Bears deal with this one; a little. Still, this is an embarrassing home loss that will be tough to bounce back from.