Chicago Bears: New England Patriots

NFLN says: 3-0 Super Bowl contenders?

September, 25, 2013
Smith, Cutler & BreesGetty ImagesAlex Smith, Jay Cutler and Drew Brees have led their teams to a 3-0 start.
The danger in getting excited about a 3-0 start is that pesky little thing known as "The Other Thirteen Games." Victories in the first three weeks can lead to a 15-1 season, as they did for the Green Bay Packers in 2011. Or they could mean a 2-11 finish and a fired coaching staff, as the Arizona Cardinals found out last year.

So let's keep our wits as we analyze the seven teams that have started this season 3-0. It has been four years since that many teams were still perfect after three weeks. The 2009 season offers another lesson in early conclusions: One of the seven (the New Orleans Saints) won the Super Bowl but two finished 8-8 and missed the playoffs altogether (the New York Giants and Denver Broncos).

So who is this year's version of the 2009 Saints? Are there any candidates to emulate the 2012 Cardinals? NFL Nation has some thoughts.

If there is anything to glean from the first three weeks of this season, it's the emergence of two early powerhouses. The Seattle Seahawks and the Broncos have outscored opponents by a combined 213-98, and their individual point differentials of 59 and 56, respectively, are by far the best in the NFL. (The next best is the Kansas City Chiefs at 37).

The Seahawks' path to Super Bowl XLVIII seems clear: Clinch home-field advantage at CenturyLink Field, where they have won 10 consecutive games, and book their ticket to New York. The Broncos, meanwhile, have scored the second-most points through three games in NFL history and only figure to improve as defensive stalwarts Von Miller (suspension) and Champ Bailey (injury) return to the lineup.

What about the rest?

Has Andy Reid built an instant Super Bowl contender in Kansas City, or will his Chiefs level off? Has Ryan Tannehill really developed into a championship-caliber quarterback for the Miami Dolphins?

Are the Chicago Bears for real after two fourth-quarterback comebacks followed by two defensive touchdowns in their victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers? The New England Patriots are fortunate to be 3-0, right? And has Sean Payton restored the Saints' magic? Let's take the pulse of NFL Nation.

Which 3-0 teams are legitimate Super Bowl contenders?

The Saints should definitely be considered as legitimate Super Bowl contenders, based on their offensive track record under coach Sean Payton and quarterback Drew Brees. Not only did they win the Super Bowl in 2009, but their offense was even better in 2011, when they finished 13-3 and set the NFL record for yards gained in a season (7,474). I don't expect an exact repeat this year, but I think that's closer to the norm than last year's 7-9 season.

Especially with tight end Jimmy Graham healthy again and back to being one of the most difficult matchups in the league. Clearly, however, the Saints need to improve a run game that has been practically non-existent to keep defenses honest and keep Brees upright.

Meanwhile, the Saints' young defense has been one of the biggest surprises in the NFL this year under new coordinator Rob Ryan. I still expect a few growing pains before the season is over. But they don't need to be dominant for the Saints to succeed. And I think they can continue to come up big in some big moments. Players are clearly responding to Ryan's energetic approach and versatile schemes. And they have some bona fide talent to work with in every unit -- including emerging young pass-rushers Cameron Jordan and Junior Galette. That was the biggest question mark heading into this season. If the defense can keep playing anywhere near this level, the Saints could run away with the NFC South title.

The undefeated Miami Dolphins are arguably the biggest surprise in the NFL.

But can the Dolphins be serious Super Bowl contenders? Let's temper those expectations. The Dolphins absolutely have playoff potential. This is a franchise that hasn't made the postseason since 2008. Ending that streak and having a winning season should be Miami's primary goals.

A 3-0 start is terrific, especially after beating the talented Indianapolis Colts and Atlanta Falcons in back-to-back weeks. But the Dolphins certainly have holes.

Depth is an issue in several areas and will be tested. Miami could be without several defensive starters -- defensive end Cameron Wake (knee), defensive tackle Paul Soliai (knee) and cornerback Dimitri Patterson (groin) -- against the New Orleans Saints on "Monday Night Football." The Dolphins also face issues such as pass protection (14 sacks allowed) and having the 28th-ranked rushing attack.

In addition to the undefeated Saints, Miami has tough games against the defending champion Baltimore Ravens (2-1), New England Patriots (3-0) and Cincinnati Bengals (2-1) before the end of October. The Dolphins cannot rest on their early success. They must continue to improve.

The health and production of second-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill is the biggest key. However, the Dolphins have a lot to prove over the course of 16 games.

Miami has a perfect record, but it's far from perfect.

Judging strictly from the numbers, the Kansas City Chiefs are legitimate Super Bowl contenders. They are No. 1 in the AFC in scoring defense, No. 2 in the conference in scoring differential and, most importantly, tied for first place with a 3-0 record.

But it's another number, one that will be impossible to sustain, that's feeding the Chiefs' success and threatens to reveal them as pretenders once it begins its inevitable correction.

The Chiefs are leading the league in turnover differential at plus-9. They are one of two NFL teams yet to commit a turnover. That's a statistic capable of making a good team look great as long as it lasts. The trouble is, it never does last, at least not at this rate. Once their turnover differential starts to balance out, here is the advantage the Chiefs will lose:

The Chiefs have started 10 possessions on their opponents' end of the field. Their opponents have started one in Kansas City's territory, and even that drive began at the Chiefs' 49.

Such consistently favorable field position can make life easy for a team, and credit to the Chiefs for enjoying the ride while it lasts.

It won't forever. When it ends, the Chiefs will have to make their own way.

Their defense looks capable of doing that, but their offense needs a boost. When it doesn't get one, the Chiefs will suddenly look mortal.

This 3-0 team is better than the Bears squad from 2012, which started 7-1, and is a legitimate Super Bowl contender for a variety of reasons. The Bears have already scored three defensive touchdowns, but the major difference is the club is getting contributions from both sides of the ball and special teams.

Chicago provided evidence of that with quarterback Jay Cutler engineering back-to-back, come-from-behind victories over Cincinnati and Minnesota to start the season, before coming through in the clutch on the road Sunday, bailing out a struggling defense to clinch a victory against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Bears racked up nine defensive touchdowns last season, which tied for the second most in NFL history. But at this juncture last year, the unit had only one score, yet basically carried the entire team through its impressive first half.

Through the 7-1 start in 2012, skepticism existed because the Bears simply hadn't played good teams. This year, the combined record of the teams first three opponents is 2-7. But don't be fooled, this is a better Bears team.

Cutler is one of the main reasons for that. He's matured. He's accepted the coaching. He's putting in more time to sharpen his craft, while shedding the enigmatic gunslinger persona for a more controlled approach. His protection is better. The front office has surrounded him with more weapons and an offensive-minded coach in Marc Trestman, who is the architect of a system Cutler believes in.

If there has been one constant of Bill Belichick-coached Patriots teams since 2000, it's that they usually get better as the season progresses. Surely, there have been exceptions (2009 comes to mind), but there are no indications this year's team is headed down that path at this point.

The defense has exceeded expectations through three games, although a lingering question is how much of the unit's success is a result of playing weaker competition. Sunday night's game on the road, against the fast-starting Atlanta Falcons, should tell us more about the unit. And while the offense has struggled to find its groove, the return of tight end Rob Gronkowski should provide a boost and with Danny Amendola saying he envisions being 100 percent shortly, big-time reinforcements are on the way.

So if you're judging on the present picture, it's understandable that one would say this team isn't a Super Bowl contender. In a game against the Denver Broncos, right now, you would have to pick the Broncos. But this is about projecting what the Patriots could be, and at this point, there's no reason to think they won't evolve as past Belichick teams have. Many of those clubs have been Super Bowl contenders. 

Source: Sedrick Ellis to visit Bears

June, 3, 2013
Kevin KolbJason Miller/Getty ImagesSedrick Ellis was the No. 7 pick in the 2008 draft by the New Orleans Saints.
Free agent defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis is scheduled to visit the Chicago Bears this week, according to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.

Schefter reports Ellis will also meet with the Detroit Lions after he visited the New England Patriots at the end of last week.

Selected No. 7 overall in the 2008 NFL draft by the New Orleans Saints, Ellis played five years for New Orleans, recording just 12.5 sacks.

Ellis had 36 tackles in 16 games for the Saints last season, but zero sacks. Ellis is considered more of a three-technique pass-rushing defensive end as opposed to a run-stopper.

The Bears have already made a handful of moves at tackle in the offseason; the club brought back defensive tackle Nate Collins and also signed DT Corvey Irvin, the 2009 third-round pick of the Carolina Panthers. The Bears briefly had veteran tackle Andre Fluellen on the roster, but he was released. There are also several undrafted rookie defensive tackles under contract with the Bears.

Former Bears defensive tackle Amobi Okoye remains unsigned.

CB Bowman gets second chance with Bears

October, 17, 2012
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Cornerback Zack Bowman thought his best shot to land on an NFL roster would be in New England, where he recently had a workout with the Patriots. Given the way it ended for Bowman here in Chicago, he really never felt returning to the Bears was a serious option.

[+] EnlargeZack Bowman
AP Photo/Amy SancettaZack Bowman never thought a return to the Bears was on the horizon until he got a surprise phone call Tuesday.
But that all changed Tuesday morning when Bowman's agent called and informed the free agent his old team wanted to bring him back on a one-year deal.

"I was shocked when I got the phone call," Bowman said. "But then I realized the opportunity that I had and obviously got excited. The first person that popped into my mind was Chris Harris. He got released when I got here and he ended up coming back a few years later. He was the first player that popped into my mind."

The Bears decided not to make an attempt to re-sign Bowman in the offseason after his original rookie deal expired, despite the fact Bowman intercepted a team-high six passes in 2009. The problems began for Bowman when he lost his starting cornerback job to Tim Jennings in early 2010. He really seemed to fall out of favor after a rough outing against the Green Bay Packers last year in Week 16 at Lambeau Field.

Bowman hit the free-agent market and eventually signed with division rival Minnesota. It looked as if Bowman was safe when he made the Vikings' initial 53-man roster as their last defensive back. But one day after the final rosters were set, Bowman got cut when Minnesota brought in another defender to take his place.

"It was surprising, but they wanted to go in a different direction," Bowman said. "I understand, it's part of the game."

Following his release, the 6-foot-1 cornerback made his way down to Houston where he trained with other former NFL players, while at the same time caring for his wife who is due to give birth to their second child soon.

Bowman practiced Wednesday but is unsure of his role or for how long he's going to be on the Bears' roster. Given how stacked the defense is at cornerback with Charles Tillman, Jennings and Kelvin Hayden, Bowman was likely brought back to help on special teams in the event a hip strain sidelines Sherrick McManins on Monday night against the Detroit Lions. Bowman was always considered a solid special teamer during his first stint with the Bears. He finished tied for fifth on the team last year with 10 special teams tackles.

If nothing else, Bowman's second go-round in Chicago might provide him with good tape moving forward if he gets an opportunity to be active for a game.

"I don't know what they want me to do yet, I just appreciate the opportunity to play football again," Bowman said. "I'm excited just to practice and run around on the field with the guys. That's what I'm really looking forward to. I've only been gone since January but it feels like a long time. Minnesota was really similar to Chicago, so I sat in meetings today and basically knew everything.

"You just come back in here more appreciative of everything. I mean, I've been doing this since the fourth grade. To not be able to do it for weeks or months, it sucks, but it's fun to be back."

Video: Madden's Super pick? Bears vs. ...

August, 29, 2012

The defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants will miss the playoffs along with the Dallas Cowboys as the balance of power in the NFC lies in the NFC North this season.

Madden '13 simulated the 2012 NFL season and forecasted great things for the Bears, who match the Packers with a 12-4 record and earn the No. 1 seed in the NFC.

So will it be "Super Bears, Super Bowl?" That's what Madden '13 predicts with the Bears taking on NFL MVP Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl.

Ex-Bear Anderson denied a ring again

February, 6, 2012
[+] EnlargeMark Anderson
AP Photo/David DupreyFormer Bear Mark Anderson had a sack of Eli Manning on Sunday but was denied a Super Bowl victory again.
INDIANAPOLIS -- The New York Giants' 21-17 victory over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI marked the second time Mark Anderson came up short in his quest for a championship ring. As a rookie in the 2006 regular season, Anderson was a key member of a Bears squad that lost Super Bowl XLI to Indianapolis in South Florida.

"I'm not really thinking about five years ago," Anderson said when asked to compare the pair of Super Bowl defeats. "I wanted to get the victory tonight. We were close, but not close enough. The Giants won so my hats off to them."

Anderson got off to fast start Sunday night. He recorded a sack against New York quarterback Eli Manning on the Giants' first offensive possession, and finished the game with a productive 1.5 sacks, 1 tackle for a loss and a pair of quarterback hits. But overall, the New England defense did not generate enough pressure, according to Anderson.

Manning was sacked just three times on 40 pass attempts, and was able to complete 5 of 6 passes for 76 yards on New York's game-winning drive at the end of the fourth quarter.

Compare that to Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who was either sacked or under duress during half of his dropbacks in the fourth quarter, and hit five times on the games final drive, per ESPN Stats & Information.

"We let them sneak away with that win right there," Anderson said. "The defense didn't stop them at the end, so I'll take the blame for that. I felt like I could have gotten more pressure. That's what I do; I pressure the quarterback to help the team out. I wish I could have got to him more often.

"We went over this all week. It's the same offense that we played earlier in the system. It's the same personnel, the same team, we knew we had to stop the run. But we needed to get after Eli more. That's my main thing. I wish we could have rushed a little better."

ESPN Chicago's Jeff Dickerson profiles the journey of former Bears and current Patriots defensive end Mark Anderson.

Bears learned tough lesson on Meriweather

February, 2, 2012
[+] EnlargeBrandon Meriweather
Scott Boehm/Getty ImagesBrandon Meriweather proved to be a bust in his one -- and likely only -- season with the Bears.
INDIANAPOLIS -- Bill Belichick taught the Chicago Bears a valuable lesson.

When the New England Patriots cut a player still believed to be in his prime, watch out, because there was probably a good reason behind his release.

The Bears got burned last year when they picked up New England castoff Brandon Meriweather to the tune of a one-year deal worth $3.25 million. The safety turned out to be a disappointment in Chicago, starting just four games in what is expected to be his one and only season with the Bears. Even with all their problems on defense in 2011, the Patriots still felt they were better off without Meriweather, a former first-round pick with two consecutive Pro Bowl selections on his resume.

How did New England see what the Bears could not?

Patriots defensive backs coach Josh Boyer politely declined to comment directly on Meriweather during media availability for Super Bowl XLVI, but was willing to reveal exactly what New England requires at the safety position.

In other words, read between the lines.

"The first thing we look at is if a guy is physical, if he can tackle, can he makes tackles in-line in the box and can he make tackles in the open field," Boyer said. "Then we look for guys who have good ball skills, who can track and locate guys in the air. They need some sort of range where they can cover from the middle of the field to the sideline.

"I would say, much like baseball, the strength of your defense is probably up the middle. With our interior linemen making calls up front, to our linebackers making calls up to our linemen and also back to the secondary, and our safeties making calls to the corners and linebackers."

And here's the key: a safety cannot be responsible for busted coverages. That happened way too often for the Bears in 2011, and not just due to Meriweather. Major Wright had his share of memorable lapses in coverage, which in turn, cost the Bears dearly in several big games.

"The safeties have to make sure we are in the correct coverages," Boyer said. "Football intelligence is very important for that position. They must have a lot of flexibility to recognize offensive formations, to recognize route concepts on the snap, then be able to get themselves in a good position to play."

Ex-Bear Anderson returns to biggest stage

January, 31, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS -- It all happened so fast for ex-Chicago Bears' defensive end Mark Anderson.

[+] EnlargeMark Anderson
AP Photo/Ed ReinkeMark Anderson was unable to replicate the success of his rookie season in Chicago -- until he made the move to New England.

Anderson, selected in round No. 5 of the 2006 NFL draft, burst onto the scene as a rookie with a team-high 12 sacks, and was a valuable member of a defense that propelled the Bears to a berth in Super Bowl XLI.

Then it all began to unravel.

The Bears made Anderson a starter the following season. He lost his starting job then he lost his job period when the Bears released the pass-rusher in 2010. After a stint in Houston, Anderson found new life in New England, where he recorded 11 combined sacks for the AFC champion Patriots.

Surrounded by media at his own reserved section at Super Bowl XLVI media day Tuesday at Lucas Oil Stadium, Anderson admitted he took the initial trip to the Super Bowl for granted.

“Honestly it’s true," Anderson said. "After my first year in the league, I knew we would go back. I thought all you had to do was win a majority of the games in the regular season and then win out in the playoffs. We didn’t even make the playoffs my other four years with the Bears. This is my first year coming back to the playoffs, five years later."

Five years later, Anderson has re-made himself. A terrific situational pass-rusher early in career with the Bears, he now finds himself in playing in New England's hybrid 3-4 defense, as opposed to the 4-3 front used in Chicago.

The way Anderson sees it, the Patriots' defense affords him the opportunity to showcase his biggest football strength: athleticism.

"I really like the different packages and stuff, the freedom we have and different things I can do," Anderson said. "It's a fun defense. Once you understand what you need to do, you can really make a lot of plays and contribute a lot. I'm doing different packages at outside linebacker and defense end, so I just try to make the most of it at all times. If you're real athletic, you can rush out of the two-point or you can rush out of the three-point, you can do a lot of things. You can even drop back in coverage if you have to. It really can highlight your athleticism."

Licht's resume worthy of real consideration

January, 23, 2012
That Kansas City Chiefs director of college scouting Phil Emery secured a second interview for the Bears general manager job should hardly come as shock, given Emery's past employment with the Bears as an area scout from 1998-2004, not to mention his excellent reputation in the NFL scouting community.

As we've written before, Emery is considered an extremely hard worker who has been well received by his peers during his various stints with Chicago, Atlanta and Kansas City.

But fellow finalist Jason Licht, the New England Patriots’ director of pro personnel, also possesses certain traits that no doubt stood out during his first interview last Monday with Bears president and CEO Ted Phillips.

When Licht was in Philadelphia from 2003-07, first as the assistant director of player personnel then later vice president of player personnel, Eagles employees who were privy to Licht's personnel reports called them "concise" and "convicted". Licht was heavily involved with Tom Hecket (now the current general manager of the Cleveland Browns) and Ryan Grigson (now the general manager of the Indianapolis Colts) in the Eagles’ draft preparations, and was considered one of several rising stars in the organization.

However, for reasons not completely clear, Licht was let go by Philadelphia in 2008, in a move that eventually paved the way for Howie Roseman (the current Eagles general manager) to rise through the ranks. Eagles scouts were said to have been baffled by the decision to fire Licht, but understood Roseman, the vice president of football administration with a salary cap background before Licht was pushed out, had considerable pull with Eagles president Joe Banner.

But Licht landed on his feet and joined the Arizona Cardinals in 2008, the year Arizona went to the Super Bowl. He left Arizona after one season, a move that raises eyebrows for some, but for whatever reason the Cardinals did not make Licht sign a contract, so he was able to jump to New England the following year after interviewing with Bill Belichick at the 2009 NFL Combine.

Licht previously worked for the Patriots as a college scout, national scout and assistant director of player personnel from 1999-2002 before heading to Philadelphia.

Those who understand the power structure in New England are adamant that Licht is a valued member of the front office who is involved in New England's personnel decisions, to an extent. That's because it's widely known Belichick has final say in all matters, and on draft day, only wants a select few bodies in the war room to limit distractions. Besides, according to sources, Licht's input on the draft is given before the event actually begins, so his actual presence in the Patriots’ war room during the draft isn't required by Belichick, who again, makes all the calls in New England.

Emery is no doubt qualified and would be a comfortable choice for the Bears to make because of his past history and understanding of how the McCaskey family operates the franchise. Licht, however, has spent the majority of his NFL career working alongside some of the most talented personnel evaluators in the game.

Licht wouldn't be an easy choice. But he wouldn't be a bad one, either.

Harris' injury give Meriweather a chance

September, 14, 2011

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Chris Harris' sitting out Wednesday's practice with a bad hamstring could lead to increased playing time or possibly, depending on the severity of Harris' injury, a starting assignment Sunday for recently acquired safety Brandon Meriweather.

Meriweather rotated in at safety for a couple of series against Atlanta in Week 1 and finished with two total tackles.

"Just looking at what he able to do last week coming in with just a few days of practice, we were pleased with his first time out," Bears head coach Lovie Smith. "I'll just say he's been working overtime, final exams, all those ways of describing that what he's been doing to try get ready [and] more prepared for this week.'

"Of course the plan is try and continue to get him more reps this week. When you have a player like Chris Harris who misses today, he's able to get more reps in practice, and that's what it's about. Just practice reps and getting more and more comfortable in what we do. Hopefully we'll see more improvements this week."

Major Wright and Meriweather handled the first team reps at safety on Wednesday as Harris watched from the sidelines. The Bears moved Wright to strong safety and put Meriweather at free safety when the two were on the field together at the same time during the Falcons' game.

A two-time Pro Bowl selection for the New England Patriots, Meriweather made 40 starts over his first four years in the NFL.

Bears had wrong cleats in 1st half vs. Pats

December, 15, 2010
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- As the Chicago Bears prepare for the possibility of playing outdoors Monday night against the Minnesota Vikings, they may want to use a lesson learned the hard way Sunday against the New England Patriots.

Read the entire story.

ESPN Chicago's Jeff Dickerson talks about the Bears bad loss to the Patriots and how they are hoping to rebound next week.

Olsen: We're in position to reach goal

December, 13, 2010
[+] EnlargeGreg Olsen
AP Photo/Nam Y. HuhGreg Olsen was held to one catch for 6 yards against the Patriots on Sunday.
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Although the loss to the New England Patriots was ugly, the Chicago Bears' season is far from being over.

"Believe it or not, this week we can wrap this whole thing up, which, at the beginning of the season, as our ultimate goal," Bears tight end Greg Olsen said. "For as bad as things looked [Sunday], we’re fortunate that we’re in a position to achieve everything that we wanted.

"Once you make the playoffs, it’s a clean slate. We have our future in our hands here, going forward. We have a huge division game, national TV, Monday night, a chance to kind of redeem ourselves from [Sunday's] poor performance. We have everything in front of us, and we just have to take care of business."

The formula is simple: The Bears can clinch the NFC North if the Packers lose on the road to New England and the Bears beat Minnesota. Even if Green Bay somehow pulls off the upset of the Patriots, the Bears can still clinch the division tie-breaker over the Packers if they knock off the Vikings.

"Maybe a week from [Monday], we’ll be celebrate being NFC North champs," Olsen said. "We’ll see."

The NFL determines playoff tie-breakers in the following order:

1. Head-to-head
2. Division record
3. Record in common games
4. Conference record
5. Strength of victory
6. Strength of schedule
7. Best combined ranking among conference teams in points scored and points allowed
8. Best combined ranking among all teams in points scored and points allowed
9. Best net points in common games
10. Best net points in all games
11. Best net touchdowns in all games
12. Coin toss

Patriots' rout of Bears by the numbers

December, 13, 2010

Bears weather? Hardly.

In fact, the last three times the New England Patriots have played in the snow, they have dominated. Their 36-7 win over the Chicago Bears in Soldier Field on Sunday was just the latest example.

Brady Vs. Four Rushers

Tom Brady did not shy away from the challenge of throwing into a crowded Chicago secondary on Sunday. Entering Week 14, the Bears led the NFL in lowest passer rating allowed when bringing four or fewer on pass rushes this season. Against the Patriots, the Bears allowed their worst such passer rating in their last 18 games.

Brady Vs. Cutler

Tom Brady and Jay Cutler entered Week 14 ranked one and two in passer rating on passes 10 yards or shorter this season (min. 80 attempts). The two quarterbacks combined to throw 10 yards or shorter 76.9 percent of their attempts on Sunday, with drastically different results.

Time of possession doomed Bears

December, 13, 2010
[+] EnlargeChester Taylor
Jerry Lai/US PresswireChester Taylor scored the Bears' only touchdown against the Patriots, a 1-yard run in the third quarter.
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears' offense finished up their long meetings long before the defense, probably because there was fewer film to analyze.

In another staggering statistic to come out of the 36-7 blowout loss to the New England Patriots, the Bears' offense was on the field for only 42 snaps, compared to 78 for the Patriots.
The Patriots easily won the time of possession battle 39:41-20:19.

"It’s kind of hard, not getting a rhythm out there like we did and the turnovers hurt us again," Bears running back Chester Taylor said. "We just can’t make those type of mistakes again."

To make matters worse, the Bears fell behind by so much in the first half, it became impossible to establish any sort of offensive identity against the Patriots.

"That throws off our running game, and then we have to play catch-up and that’s what the Patriots are used to doing -- people playing catch-up with them," Taylor said. "That was our downfall."

Taylor scored on a 1-yard run in the third quarter, but barely touched the ball the rest of the day. Taylor missed practice earlier in the week with a sore knee, but said he "felt pretty good."