Best and Worst: Patriots 38, Bears 31
Tom E. Curran looks at some of the highlights and lowlights of a back-and-forth battle in Chicago that ended with the Patriots earning their fifth victory in seven games this year.
The Patriots reeled off an eight-play, 75-yard drive that took four minutes right off the kickoff to take a 7-0 lead. An 18-yard run by Sony Michel, a 14-yard James White completion and a 13-yard Michel reception set up a sideways touchdown throw to Julian Edelman, who pinballed into the end zone.
On a second down play in the first quarter, Mitch Trubisky was flushed by a Jonathan Jones corner blitz. With Jones closing in Trubisky rolled right out of the pocket then threw back across his body for a low-percentage attempt. It was the kind of play on which Trubisky could have thrown out of bounds and saved the distance and the unnecessary risk. Trubisky threw into trouble often in the first two quarters and finished 8-for-20 for 92 yards in the first half.
LOCKED EM UP
On Tarik Cohen’s first punt return, the electric little dude started into an apparent seam then just stopped on a dime when he saw it vacated, threw on his blinker and got to the left sideline for a 16-yard gain.
Cordarelle Patterson fumbled a kickoff near the end of the first quarter after a Bears field goal putting Chicago in business at the Patriots 24.
LONG TRIP FOR 6
Mitch Trubisky spun out of a would-be sack on a third-and-5 from the Patriots 8 late in the first quarter, beating Adrian Clayborn and finding wide-open space to double back and cruise into the end zone to give the Bears the lead. Not a high point for Clayborn.
Sony Michel got taken down on an early second-quarter carry, spinning as he went to the ground. Unfortunately, his foot didn’t come with him and he was landed on by a Bears defender, injuring the right foot and leaving the field in pain.
SLOPPY, SLOPPY, SLOPPY
The Patriots had four accepted penalties for 28 yards in the first half. Two were called on J.C. Jackson for hands to the face. They also had three fumbles – one on a muffed punt by Julian Edelman (the Patriots recovered), the other when Cordarelle Patterson had it bumped out on a kickoff return, the third on Michel. They spent a timeout when they had 10 players on the field defensively and had a dropped interception from Elandon Roberts just prior to a Bears touchdown. Also, Bill Belichick was wearing a headband with the Patriots logo turned upside down.
MAKEUP WITH AN ASTERISK
After fumbling on an earlier kickoff return, Cordarelle Patterson ripped off a 95-yard kickoff return that included a terrific change of direction. The last 5 yards probably won’t be a hit though as Patterson slowed down at the Bears 5-yard line to high-five J.C. Jackson then slide-stepped into the end zone. Former Patriot Troy Brown had this to say as they showed the replay of the end of Patterson’s run: “He’s gonna get it. If not today in the meeting tomorrow.”
DIRECT TO NOWHERE
The Patriots tried some chicanery down by the Bears goal line in the second quarter as Tom Brady shouted instructions to the Patriots wideouts on the right. It was a ruse. A surprise direct snap went to James White who was bottled up quickly.
THAT’S MORE LIKE IT
On the play after the direct snap, the Patriots got James White in space 1-on-1 on the much bigger Leonard Floyd and White made quick work of him on an option route for an easy touchdown.
WHO’S THAT HELP?
With a second left in the first half, the Bears had the ball at the Patriots 40 and eschewed the field goal. But instead of rolling the dice with a Hail Mary, Trubisky checked down for a 20-yard gain that had no legitimate chance of turning into points.
Stephon Gilmore had a great chance to snuff a would-be Bears touchdown drive after Trubisky’s lengthy run early in the second half but he dropped the pick in the end zone. It was the second end-zone drop by a Patriots defender. Elandon Roberts had the first.
BACK ATCHA JACKSON
A penalty-plagued day for rookie J.C. Jackson was offset by an interception he came up with in the third quarter when he plastered his man after Trubisky broke the pocket and came up with a diving pick that he wrestled free.
After Adam Butler sniffed out a third-down screen to force a fourth down, Donta Hightower steamrolled his man and came up with a well-executed punt block that Kyle Van Noy scooped and scored for the touchdown.
The numbers didn’t do justice to just how wild Trubisky was with his throws. His incompletions were heinously incomplete. His picks were preventable mistakes. Even some of his completions were only complete because of terrific adjustments by his receivers.
Josh Gordon had a big catch-and-run in the fourth quarter to set up a touchdown. He shook loose from two Bears to turn a shortish throw into a 54-yard gain. He seemed to lose a bit of steam at the end of the run.