The Chicago Bears today flushed the No. 2 overall pick in next year's draft down the toilet after beating the visiting San Francisco 49ers 26-6 at Soldier Field.
The Bears elevate to 3-9 on the season after a thoroughly dominant Week 13 performance.
The offense was shaky early but a successful two-minute drill at the end of the first half, which resulted in a touchdown, lit a fire under QB Matt Barkley and company. After going down 6-0, the two-minute drill led to 26 unanswered points by the Bears.
That includes an exceptional performance from the defense, holding San Francisco to just 147 total net yards on the day, and just 6 net passing yards.
The Bears also won the time-of-possession battle 31:18-28:42, while going 3-for-4 in red zone efficiency and 6-of-14 on third down.
QB Matt Barkley
Snow in Chicago began about three hours before kickoff, which created poor passing conditions for both teams. As such, offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains deployed a run-heavy approach, and Barkley didn't complete a pass until 1:43 left in the 2nd quarter. On that drive, he completed 4-of-6 passes, with the final attempt eliciting a pass interference call in the end zone. The Bears scored on the following play, which turned out to be the game-winning TD. Barkley finished the game 11-of-18 for 192 passing yards, 0 TDs and 0 INTs, good for a 97.5 QB rating. Barkley and the entire offense stumbled out of the gates but they were borderline unstoppable in the second half. Considering the less-than-favorable passing elements, it was another very strong start for the fourth-year signal caller.
RB Jordan Howard
The Bears needed to lean on the run game in this contest and Jordan Howard was up to the challenge. He ran the ball 32 times for 117 yards and 3 TDs. It was the fifth 100-yard performance for Howard this year, the most by a Bears rookie in franchise history. Howard also came into the game ranked 4th among NFL running backs with 5.1 yards per carry. He has 883 rushing yards this season, with four games to play. For context, Matt Forte had the greatest rookie rushing season in franchise history (1,238 yards in 2008) but had just three 100-yard outings and averaged 3.9 yards per carry. Yeah, Howard is the real deal.
DL Akiem Hicks
Hicks was an absolute monster in this game, manhandling San Francisco's offense line throughout the contest. He finished the game with a team-high 10 total tackles and 2.0 sacks, along with a forced fumble. Hicks was nearly un-blockable in the run game, helping keep 49ers RB Carlos Hyde in check. Hicks now has 6.0 sacks this season, which is a career high for the fifth-year veteran.
OLB Leonard Floyd
Floyd tied with Hicks for the team lead with 2.0 sacks, giving hm 7.0 sacks on the year, which leads all rookie pass rushers. Floyd's second sack came in the 49ers end zone, resulting in a safety. Floyd lost contain on Colin Kaepernick a few times early in the game but his presence on passing downs in the second half helped Chicago's defense bury San Francisco's offense.
ILB Nick Kwiatkoski
Making his second straight start, Kwiatkoski struggled early and had trouble fighting off blocks. Yet once he found his rhythm, Kwiatkoski was a force on defense. He was strong filling gaps against the run and finished with 9 total tackles, second only to Hicks. Kwiatkoski also had two pass breakups, one of which would have resulted in a pick-six had he been able to secure the interception. Based on his performance today, it's clear Kwiatkoski has a future in Chicago as a downhill inside linebacker.
Honorable Mention: Bobby Massie, Eddie Goldman, Cameron Meredith
WR Josh Bellamy
Bellamy led all Bears receivers with 4 catches for 93 yards, yet it could have been a much bigger day. Bellamy dropped a third-quarter reception that would have gone for at least 20 yards, then dropped a wide-open deep ball that would have resulted in a touchdown. This coming on the heels of a Week-12 performance in which Bellamy dropped a handful of passes, including another TD.
TE Ben Braunecker
Midway through the 2nd quarter, the Bears lined up to punt with only 10 players on the field. Braunecker then came sprinting onto the field but he was too late, resulting in a delay of game penalty. On the following snap, Braunecker let the edge rusher through and the punt was nearly blocked, forcing P Patrick O'Donnell to avoid the rush and let fly a dead duck, which the 49ers grabbed out of the air and returned to the 4-yard line. Not a great stretch for Braunecker, who failed to record a reception on offense.
KR Deonte Thompson
Thompson's poor season as a kick returner continues. He returned just one kick today for 28 yards, then fumbled the ball away at the end of the play.null