Rapid Reaction: Chicago Bears
December, 1, 2013
By Michael C. Wright | ESPN.com
MINNEAPOLIS -- A few thoughts on the Chicago Bears' 23-20 overtime loss to the Minnesota Vikings:
What it means: The Bears fell farther behind the Detroit Lions in contention for the NFC North title with the loss to the Vikings. Based on the way the season is shaping up, and Chicago’s NFC record (3-6), the Bears need to win the division for a chance to advance to the postseason. Chicago’s prospects for a wild-card spot look dim.
Jeffery on fire: Second-year receiver Alshon Jeffery produced his second 200-plus-yard outing of the season against the Vikings, hauling in 12 receptions for 249 yards and two touchdowns. Jeffery’s 80-yard touchdown 52 seconds into the third quarter made him the club’s first 1,000-yard receiver of the season and marked the first 1,000-yard season in his NFL career.
Mixed reviews for revamped front: Jeremiah Ratliff made his Chicago debut and Stephen Paea rejoined the lineup coming off a turf-toe injury. Their presence in the lineup allowed the Bears to utilize some creativity that yielded results in the pass-rushing department, but much of the same against the run.
Paea and Corey Wootton lined up inside at tackle with Shea McClellin and Julius Peppers playing the defensive end spots. Ratliff entered with 10:57 left in the first quarter and nearly sacked Christian Ponder on his first snap. That extra inside presence allowed the Bears to move Wootton outside to play opposite Peppers. At times, the Bears even used Peppers inside next to Ratliff with Wootton and McClellin at the end positions. The diversity helped the Bears snuff out Minnesota’s first three drives with sacks, two from Peppers and one other sack split between Paea and nickel corner Isaiah Frey.
Against the run, however, Chicago continued to struggle. The Bears experienced success early against Adrian Peterson. But the running back broke the century mark early in the third quarter and finished with a season-high 211 yards.
Milestone: Matt Forte took a handoff in the first quarter and reeled off a 16-yard gain to move into second place in franchise history in yards from scrimmage. Forte passed Neal Anderson to take second place behind Walter Payton, who gained 21,264 yards from scrimmage from 1975 to '87. Forte rushed for 120 yards and caught two passes for 31 yards.
What’s next: The Bears take the day off from practice on Monday and Tuesday before beginning preparations Wednesday to host the Dallas Cowboys at Soldier Field for a Dec. 9 matchup on "Monday Night Football." With the Cowboys having played on Thanksgiving, the Bears will be facing a well-rested team.