Sunday, December 2, 2012
Rapid Reaction: Seahawks 23, Bears 17 (OT)
By Michael C. Wright
CHICAGO -- Seattle ran up its regular-season run of success at Soldier Field to three games Sunday when Russell Wilson directed a 12-play, 80-yard drive in overtime capped by a 13-yard touchdown pass to Sidney Rice in leading the Seahawks to a 23-17 triumph over the Chicago Bears.
The loss brings about major concern for the Bears' defense, which gave up TDs -- not once, but twice -- in key moments Sunday when the club absolutely needed stops to win the game.
Let's look deeper.
What it means: The Bears hit a significant snag in their quest to capture their second division crown since 2010 with the loss to the Seahawks. The club lost its one-game lead over Green Bay, which defeated the Minnesota Vikings. The Bears move into second in the NFC North.
New-look line looks good: The Bears played well Sunday with a couple of new starters on the offensive line in guards Gabe Carimi and Edwin Williams, who filled in last week during the club's win over the Vikings for injured starters Chris Spencer and Lance Louis.
The Bears didn't surrender a sack as Cutler scrambled for 20 yards as part of a game plan designed to alleviate some of the pressure on the offensive line. With 3:00 left to play, the Bears had outrushed the Seahawks 139 to 99 while possessing the ball for 32:28.
The Bears averaged 4.2 yards per rush.
Quick start: The Bears shook their tendency to get off to slow starts against the Seahawks on Sunday, and put points on the board on their opening possession when Earl Bennett flipped into the end zone on a 12-yard pass from Cutler for a touchdown. Cutler completed 10-of-16 in the first half for 125 yards and a touchdown for a passer rating of 107.6 in leading the Bears to converting 50 percent (3-of-6) on third downs in the first half.
Matt Forte put another TD on the board on the club's second drive of the second half when he hauled in a 12-yard scoring strike from Cutler to give the Bears a 14-10 lead with 3:10 remaining in the third quarter.
Then with the game on the line and the Bears trailing, they answered a 12-play, 97-yard scoring drive from the Seahawks with a three-play, 58-yard drive capped by Robbie Gould's 46-yard field goal to tie the game 17-17 and force overtime. Cutler completed a 56-yard pass to Marshall during Chicago's final drive to set up the field goal.
So while there's still plenty of work to do on offense as the Bears gear up for a playoff run, the team's start against the Seahawks provides some optimism about the group finally peaking at precisely the right time.
Too much Marshall: Brandon Marshall's 10-catch outing Sunday marked the sixth time this season he's finished a game with 9 receptions or more. His 165 yards marked the sixth time Marshall finished with 100 yards or more.
Playing primarily against single coverage in the first half, Marshall racked up 7 catches for 94 yards on nine targets. Seattle adjusted the coverage at halftime to slow down Marshall, but the receiver still managed to pull down three more balls in the second half, including the 56-yarder that set up Gould's game-tying kick at the end of regulation.
Sacks come back: Defensive tackle Stephen Paea ended a three-game drought with no sacks in the third quarter Sunday when he dropped Wilson for a 3-yard loss. Paea hadn't generated a sack since Nov. 4 against the Tennessee Titans. Defensive end Julius Peppers contributed a sack for the first time since Nov. 11 against Houston on just the second play of the game, when he slammed down Wilson for a 7-yard loss.
What's next: With the Bears suffering a couple of more injuries against the Seahawks, they'll take the day off Monday and Tuesday before hitting the practice field Wednesday to prepare for the second meeting in three weeks against the Minnesota Vikings.