Making the Grade

The Bears pulled off a major upset by beating the Packers 21-10 at Lambeau. Led by Thomas Jones' huge day and a swarming opportunistic defense, the Bears were not to be denied. Let's take a closer look at how the streak was snapped.


OFFENSE

Quarterbacks

Rex Grossman (10-18-132, TD, Int, 4/7) didn't get called upon to do a lot of things, but did a fine job in the role carved out for him. His accuracy, timing, and touch were much better than in last week's contest. His touch was on display as he lobbed the ball over the coverage to Desmond Clark for 31 yards, and also a 19-yarder to Bobby Wade. He also remembered to slide on his scrambling attempts. The game plan called for a lot of rollouts, and Grossman did an excellent job of throwing on the move. He probably only threw two poor passes. The pass that was intercepted was an overthrown deep ball. It appeared that Grossman was trying to throw the ball away and didn't throw it far enough. He had another ball that Harris nearly intercepted. One of the key plays of the game was a fumble that was later reviewed and overturned as an incompletion. Grossman's arm was moving forward when the ball came out. He was able to find his running backs and tight ends, which is especially important against the blitzing Green Bay scheme. An 11-yard touchdown pass to Bryan Johnson was his first of the season. Overall, it was a competent effort against a very complex and stingy defense. GRADE: B-

Running Backs

Thomas Jones (23/152, TD) received the majority of the reps at halfback. He was a key to the Bears' victory. Jones showed great burst to the hole and blasted through initial contact for long gains. He also picked up a blitz to help buy time for Grossman on his deep ball to Clark. Jones' biggest runs came when he was able to find a crease when the Packers were blitzing. He picked up 54 yards on one of those plays, over the right guard/tackle gap. Jones did drop a short pass over the middle. Bryan Johnson (2-25, TD) started at fullback and had an inspired game. Although he had some trouble finding run blitzers early, he settled down later. Additionally, he was a weapon in the passing game. He took a short pass in the right seam and literally ran over Michael Hawthorne to get into the end zone. Anthony Thomas (5/15) had a few opportunities at halfback and made the most of them to move the chains. GRADE: A

Receivers

This was also the tight ends' day to shine. Dustin Lyman (2-15) and Desmond Clark (2-43) were both on the field a good deal for two tight end sets. They blocked very well in the run game and when used to catch passes came up with some big grabs. Not only did Clark have a 31-yarder, but he also hauled in a short pass and took on 3 big hits en route to a 12-yard gain. Bobby Wade was this week's top wide receiver. Wade made 3 big receptions for 42 yards and also took two end-around handoffs for 15 and 10 yards. David Terrell did not have any receptions, but showed great maturity when he called for a time out on a play where he recognized the offense was going to be called for a procedure penalty. He was held most of the day but only received one flag for it. Terrell did fumble a reverse, giving the ball back to Green Bay. Bernard Berrian and Justin Gage were not factors, and Daryl Jones did a good job of deflecting an overthrown pass to prevent an interception. When you add in the blocking from the tight ends, the receivers had a fine day. GRADE: B-

Offensive Line

Do you believe in divine intervention? Today's communion hymn was "Gift of Finest Wheat." It's a song written by a man named Robert E. Kreutz. I took note of this as I left to watch the game. The very first line of it reads "You satisfy the hungry heart with gift of finest wheat." There were a lot of hungry hearts on Sunday that became satisfied by the great amounts of wheat, or perhaps open grass, that Bear runners were treated to. Was it more than a coincidence that this man bears the same name as the Bears' center? Olin Kreutz had an outstanding game, anchoring the middle of the offensive line, where Thomas Jones made a good deal of his yardage. Even more amusing is the line from the song "as when the shepherd calls his sheep, they know and heed his voice." Kreutz called the huddle, and the team came to him, and they played extremely well. The offensive line carved up the Packer defense to the tune of 182 yards rushing on 35 carries. Even with Mike Gandy injured and out for most of the game, Steve Edwards filled in admirably. He only had trouble on one play. Apart from that, he blocked great straight ahead, and pulled very well. Not bad for someone who hadn't practiced at guard since last season, and looked miserable during the preseason. Qasim Mitchell was hardly mentioned. His opponent was heard from even less. Did KGB even play? Veteran Ruben Brown had some early trouble allowing a sack and also on the run with hitting the blitzing linebacker as he pulled through the hole to lead for Jones. But it got worked out, and the Bears gashed the Packer defense on the same play for 54 yards. John Tait did a better job of sealing off the edge on the run. It was a tremendous game for the line, and one that was a long time coming. It was very satisfying. GRADE: A


DEFENSE

Defensive Line

The Bears allowed Ahman Green to have a huge first half as the Packers ran for 125 first half yards on 21 carries. They would only get 27 yards on their next 10 after halftime. The Bears kept after Green, and showed great discipline in defeating the Packers' bread and butter off tackle plays. The final numbers were a bit ugly, but the end result is undeniably good. Ogunleye (4 tackles, PD), Brown (2 tackles, PD), Haynes, Harris, Johnson and Boone, fought to get penetration. They also held the point of attack when the plays were coming their way. This meant that ends had to be sacrificial lambs to take on double teams as plays called for it. The Bears rarely were able to put pressure on Favre, and usually then it was only via the blitz. Tommie Harris missed a portion of the game so Tank Johnson saw extensive action. Alfonso Boone missed most of the game with an injury as well. Michael Haynes played some tackle, as did Israel Idonije. Idonije did have some pressure. It wasn't a pretty game for this group (no sacks, few pressures), but the end results justified the means. GRADE: C

Linebackers

Brian Urlacher (9 tackles, FF) had a monster game at linebacker. He was all over the field. Urlacher made the key play of the game when he stripped Ahman Green of the football near the Bears' goal line. It was likely a 14-point swing since Mike Brown picked the ball up and ran 95 yards for a touchdown. Urlacher drew offensive pass interference on Bubba Franks to negate a touchdown. He put the pressure on Favre on Green Bay's final possession to force an erratic throw to end the Packers' chances. Lance Briggs (8 tackles, PD) dropped a potential interception, but was again a force making tackles everywhere. He did get a knockdown on Favre via the blitz. Joe Odom (7 tackles) had a much better game on the strong side, flowing more naturally to the play and plugging holes in any of the places Green tried to leak through. All 3 of the linebackers did an excellent job in coverage, especially considering how much the Packers like to hit their backs and tight ends as main parts of their offense. GRADE: A-

Secondary

R.W. McQuarters (3 tackles) had a solid game, and is starting to show glimpses of his 2001 form. He stopped Fisher cold for a loss on a swing pass on 3rd and ten. His coverage was good all game. Charles Tillman (11 tackles) was very active in run support, and played the pass reasonably well. He made a great play on a screen where he somehow shed a lineman's block to diffuse the play. Mike Brown's (3 tackles, FR) 95-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown was a deciding factor in the game. It appeared that he was late getting over for coverage deep on a touchdown pass. He left the game with cramping and then left again with what has been called an Achilles tendon injury. Mike Green (9 tackles, Int, 2 PD) had another superb game. He appears to have benefited greatly from the new defensive schemes. Green made a diving over-the-shoulder interception of a poorly thrown Favre pass. He was also very sure in his tackling. Bobby Gray (6 tackles, Int, PD) had a late interception of a pass that went directly to him. He sacrificed his body numerous times to punish the lead blockers on Green Bay's running plays. Todd Johnson also saw some limited action. The secondary had one or two lapses, but was much more opportunistic than it's been in a long time. The pluses far outweighed some small minuses. GRADE: A-


SPECIAL TEAMS

Paul Edinger missed a 45-yard field goal late in the game. His kickoffs were solid. Edinger faked a long field goal attempt and then punted the ball. Edinger did handle some punting duties early in his collegiate career. Brad Maynard had an adequate game punting. Returns were average and coverage was excellent on punts and kickoffs. Hunter Hillenmeyer and Todd Johnson were very active in coverage. Other than Edinger's missed field goal, it was a solid effort. GRADE: C-


COACHING

Not only did the Bears have an excellent game plan on offense, but they also made great halftime adjustments to tighten the screws on defense. The use of two tight ends and a lot of rolling out helped keep Grossman intact against a lot of heat. The Bears kept pounding away with the run at the interior of the Packers' defense, and it worked. An interesting play was a halfback screen that came after the Bears faked a reverse away from the screen. Shutting down Green in the second half seemed an insurmountable task, but the Bears did it. A great deal of credit should also go to the coaches for getting the penalties sorted out. The Bears were only flagged twice for a meager 15 yards, and managed to keep turnovers to a minimum while exploiting Green Bay's mistakes. Coach Smith said one of his goals was to beat the Packers. He delivered on it, which isn't easy to do seeing as how the Bears had lost 18 of their last 20 to Green Bay. GRADE: A


GAME BALLS

Brian Urlacher
Thomas Jones
Mike Green
Olin Kreutz
Mike Brown
Bobby Wade

_HORNS

None, they're reserved for the head of the Vikings' mascot—next week

HARDEST HITS

Bryan Johnson on Michael Hawthorne
Brian Urlacher on Charles Tillman (same team)
Hunter Hillenmeyer on Antonio Chatman
Mike Brown on Javon Walker



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