Alshon Jeffery delivered a second straight dominant performance.
Jay Cutler targeted Jeffery on 15 of his 33 pass attempts, with good reason. Jeffery finished with 10 receptions for 116 yards and a touchdown, his second straight 100-yard game (compared with three all last season, none over the final six games). Jeffery caught four of six passes in the first half, one for a 21-yard touchdown against Xavier Rhodes, winning a jump ball against the Vikings cornerback for a game-tying score just before halftime.
“I think it was a better throw than my route, actually,” Jeffery said. “He just threw it up and gave me a chance. It was a double move but the corner didn’t bite. It was a great throw and I made a great catch.”
Cutler put the pass high enough where Jeffery or no one was making the catch: “That’s why we throw it up to him. That’s why we have him out there. That’s why we take chances with him, because he can make plays like that… . We still have to keep finding ways to get him the ball and get him open in some coverages.”
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Jeffery beat single coverage in the third quarter for a 28-yard gain from Cutler. His catch of a fourth-down throw midway through the fourth quarter involved perfect screening off of the defender for a possession grab the Bears needed to sustain a drive with the score tied.
In a game plan working short early, intent on staying out of third-and-long’s, Eddie Royal caught three passes in the first half but for a total of 2 yards in and then was out for the second half with a knee injury. Martellus Bennett caught three passes for 32 total yards but Marquess Wilson was a virtual non-factor, with just one catch for 14 yards.
Poor blocking by Wilson and others cost the Bears a third-down conversion on a throw to Royal but Robbie Gould converting from 55 yards saved the possession. Jeffery whiffed while blocking on a subsequent screen throw to Royal, forcing the Bears to punt.
Moon's Grade: A
The Bears were not at their best against the New England Patriots on Sunday. They made plenty of mistakes on all three phases and gave Tom Brady too many opportunities to control the game.
It wasn’t all bad from Chicago, though. Trey Burton emerged as a new favorite weapon of Mitchell Trubisky, and the tight end was the Bears’ highest-graded player in the game by Pro Football Focus.
Burton had a career high 11 targets, nine catches and 126 yards with a touchdown, giving Trubisky a 144.7 passer rating when targeting his top tight end.
Seven of Burton’s targets and six of his catches traveled 10 or more yards in the air, according to PFF.
Defensively, safety Adrian Amos led the pack with a 74.6 overall grade. He did not miss a tackle after missing a career-high five last week, and he allowed only one catch for eight yards against the Patriots.
On the bottom of the scale, outside linebacker Leonard Floyd received the second-lowest grade of his career (38.9 overall) for his performance. He did not record any pressure on the quarterback in 13 pass rushing snaps, and he allowed two catches for 13 yards and a touchdown in coverage against running back James White.
Wide receiver Allen Robinson had a career-low grade as well at 44.9 overall. He was clearly limited by his groin injury, targeted five times with one catch for four yards and a dropped pass.
Overall, the Bears were able to stick with one of the top teams in the AFC while also leaving a lot of room for improvement. It’s a step in the right direction from where Chicago was in recent seasons.
Take a look over the NFC landscape and try to find me a team that can compete with the Rams.
Packers? Held back by Rodgers' knee and Rodgers' coach. Saints? Might not even win their own division. Washington? Does Alex Smith really scare anyone in the playoffs?
The Rams have one of the easier paths to the Championship Round/Super Bowl that we've seen in some time. Will it likely stay that way? Probably not. But there's a difference between parity and mediocrity and right now the NFC is toeing the line HARD.
Outside the NFC's "elite", how did your team do this week?
You can take a look here and see where they landed.