The Chicago Bears are now 1-3 after today's 22-20 victory over the Oakland Raiders. It was a hard-fought contest with six different lead changes, one that came down to a 48-yard Robbie Gould field goal in the game's waning moments.
The Bears deserved to win this game. They outgained the Raiders in total yards (371 to 243), passing yards (273 to 173), rushing yards (98 to 70), first downs (23 to 16), third-down percentage (59 percent to 46 percent) and time of possession (33:22 to 26:38).
It was a contest that looked bleak late in the game following a 41-yard Sebastian Janikowski field goal that put the Raiders up 20-19 with 2:05 left to play. Yet the Bears executed a 12-play, 48-yard drive in the final two minutes that set Gould up for the game winner.
Let's take a look at the players who led the Bears to victory and those who held the team back against the Raiders.
CB Tracy Porter
Tracy Porter started at cornerback in place of Alan Ball, who was active but was dealing with a groin injury. To this point in the season, the Bears had used fixed cornerbacks, rarely flip-flopping their boundary players. Yet today, Porter shadowed Raiders receiver Amari Cooper, who had accumulated 234 receiving yards the past two games combined. Not only did Porter play well, but he nearly shut Cooper down completely. He finished with just four catches for 49 yards and a touchdown. Other than the 26-yard scoring reception in the second quarter, Porter limited him to just three catches for 23 yards. That is wildly impressive for Porter, who just returned from a hamstring injury last week. If he continues playing at a high level, the Bears will have at least one cornerback they can count on moving forward.
K Robbie Gould
2014 was Robbie Gould's worst season as a professional. He connected on a career-low 9 field goals, converting just 75 percent of his FG attempts (also a career low). Yet Gould has already matched his field-goal total from last year and is 9 for 9 on the season. That includes a 54 yarder before halftime today, as well as the game-winning 48-yard FG. There have been some rumors this could be Gould's last season in Chicago, yet that appears very unlikely if he keeps kicking like this.
QB Jay Cutler
Coming into the game, Jay Cutler was questionable due to a hamstring injury. Not only did he start the game but he played at a very high level throughout the contest, completing 28 of 43 passes for 281 yards, 2 TDs and 1 INT, good for an 89.4 QB rating. Despite the bum hammy, Cutler was elusive in the pocket and extended a number of plays using his legs. Yet most impressive was his ability to fight off a bad interception to Charles Woodson in the fourth quarter and lead the team back to victory with an impressive late-game drive. If Cutler had thrown in the towel, the Bears would be 0-4 right now.
TE Martellus Bennett
The Raiders are weak in coverage in the middle of the field and tight end Martellus Bennett made them pay. He finished with a team-high 11 catches (on 13 targets), 83 receiving yards and a touchdown. Yet Bennett saved his best for last. On Chicago's final drive, the Bears faced a 4th and 5 from their own 25-yard line. Bennett ran an intermediate out route and Cutler fired him the pass. With a defender in his hip, Bennett was able to haul in a very difficult pass that kept the Bears alive in the game. Eight plays later, Gould kicked the game winner.
OLB Pernell McPhee
Pernell McPhee led all Bears in total takles (8) and had a game-turning interception in the third quarter. McPhee also had a tackle for loss and was very disruptive on passing downs. It's clear now why the Bears paid McPhee so handsomely this off-season, as he's an all-round playmaker who can anchor the defense going forward.
Honorable mention: DL Ego Ferguson (1 sack), WR Eddie Royal (7 catches, TD), DE Jarvis Jenkins (1 sack), C Matt Slauson and CB Kyle Fuller.
RG Vladimir Ducasse
Vladimir Ducasse hasn't been overly terrible as the club's starting right guard but the mental mistakes are starting to add up. Today, Ducasse picked up his fourth false start penalty in as many games - three of which have been at home. He now has six penalties on the season, which leads the Bears.
WR Josh Bellamy
Josh Bellamy was targeted three times but failed to bring in a single reception. That includes a pass in the back of the end zone that went right through his hands for what would have been in easy touchdown.
ILB Christian Jones
Christian Jones had five tackles against the Raiders and one tackle for loss. Yet he makes this list because of a second-quarter missed tackle in the red zone. With the ball at the 4-yard line, RB Roy Helu caught a swing pass left. Jones closed quickly on the ball carrier, yet Helu stopped in his tracks and let the defender fly right by him before strolling into the end zone. It was a bad missed tackle by Jones that cost the Bears seven points.