Sunday, November 17, 2013
5 things we learned vs. Ravens
By Jeff Dickerson
CHICAGO -- Here are five things we learned in the Chicago Bears' 23-20 victory over the Baltimore Ravens:
1. The Josh McCown story keeps getting better: We are witness to a truly remarkable NFL story. Just when you think McCown is about to fall back to reality, he goes out and posts a 92.9 quarterback rating against a tough Ravens defense. McCown has now attempted 101 passes without throwing a single interception. Do you realize how difficult that is to do for a backup quarterback in the NFL? Once again, McCown delivered with the game on the line, firing a strike to tight end Martellus Bennett for 43 yards that set up the game-winning Robbie Gould field goal. McCown is now 2-0 with a 100.0 quarterback rating in four appearances. Jay Cutler is the Bears’ clear-cut No. 1 quarterback, but there is absolutely no need for him to rush back from his high-ankle sprain before he’s ready. McCown has it under control.
2. The Bears are suddenly right back in the mix: Such is life in the week-to-week NFL. The Bears’ locker room was full of despair last week after their second loss of the season to the Detroit Lions that effectively put the Bears two games behind Detroit in the NFC North standings. But fast-forward seven days and the Bears are neck and neck with the Lions at 6-4 (Detroit still holds the head-to-head tiebreaker) following the exciting overtime win against the Ravens and Detroit’s disappointing defeat in Pittsburgh. Plus, Green Bay dropped to 5-5 with a loss to the New York Giants. With winnable games on the horizon versus the St. Louis Rams (4-6) and Minnesota Vikings (2-8), the Bears are poised to stay in contention for the foreseeable future. Of course, the vibe of the season could change again if the Bears are upset Sunday in St. Louis, but that’s what makes the NFL so great. With only a handful of elite teams, the second-tier outfits usually keep their fans interested until the bitter end.
3. Rookies deliver on defense: There are still gaping holes in the Bears’ run defense -- Baltimore rushed for 174 yards and one touchdown -- but the play of rookies Jon Bostic and David Bass can be best described as encouraging. Bass came up with the defensive play of the game when he managed to avoid a cut block and leapt into the air to intercept a Joe Flacco pass at the line of scrimmage and return it for a touchdown. That sequence proved to be a turning point in the game for the Bears. Bostic later showcased his athleticism and speed by dropping into the middle of the field and snaring a Flacco throw for a big interception. Although the jury is still out on some of the Bears’ recent defensive draft picks, it was enjoyable to see a couple first-year players contribute to the victory.
4. Never a doubt with Gould: Despite the horrible weather conditions on Sunday, Gould went 3-for-3 on field goal attempts, including the 38-yard game winner in overtime. Kicking at Soldier Field is not easy, but Gould has mastered the art better than almost anybody in the history of the franchise, with the exception of Kevin Butler. However, if Gould receives a new deal from the club in the offseason, he will eventually break all of Butler’s team kicking records. Gould is 19-of-20 on field goal attempt this season. As the weather continues to change and the games get closer as the season wears on, Bears fans will appreciate Gould more than ever. When called upon, Gould almost always comes through in the clutch.
5. Soldier Field workers deal with adversity: Soldier Field takes its share of abuse because of the grass playing surface, but the stadium workers responsible for evacuating the crowd during the weather delay deserve kudos. It is not easy to evacuate 60,000 people from their seats in a short period of time, but, from my vantage point, the workers got most of the stadium cleared before the really bad weather rolled in on Sunday. Now, I obviously cannot speak for what happened when the fans reached the covered areas of the concourses, but given the serious nature of the weather we experienced in the Chicagoland area, I thought the Soldier Field staff did its best to keep the paying customers as safe as possible. There was an issue in the upper deck on the northwest corner of the stadium, but that appeared to be more of a problem with the design of the stadium, not the effort or approach by the security guards charged with the task of getting fans to shelter. And, finally, the security guards tackled a Ravens fan who rushed onto the field during the delay. It was a good effort all around.