Noots' Notes

The Bears' defense outmatched the Baltimore Ravens, holding them to only 199 yards of offense en route to a 10-6 victory in front of a rain-soaked Soldier Field crowd. Thomas Jones again proved to be the offensive difference-maker. The win puts the Bears at 3-3, and tied for first place with Detroit, who they'll face next.



Kyle Orton (15-29-145, TD, 2/-2, Fumble) had another sub-200 yard passing performance, but made several great strides. He was pitted against one of the top defenses in the NFL, and showed great poise. Although he overthrew several open receivers on deep routes, his timing and feel for the offense was much better. Ron Turner's offense puts a great importance on timing and getting rid of the ball quickly. Orton did a great job of hitting his receivers quickly when they were open on the short and intermediate passes. Before anyone gets excited, the short timing routes in Ron Turner's offense are usually around seven yards instead of three or four as Bear fans saw under previous offensive coordinators. Orton found fullback Marc Edwards in the flat for a 9-yard touchdown. He put a little too much air under a short pass he threw to Gabe Reid, which was broken up as a consequence. Orton distributed the ball well to his receivers, and found Desmond Clark as a dependable safety valve. He got rid of the ball hot against the blitz for plus yardage. He didn't throw any interceptions, and got rid of the ball quickly to avoid sacks. This had been an area of needed improvement for the rookie who had thrown costly interceptions by forcing the ball when receivers were covered or had taken sacks because he was waiting too long for receivers to break free. The Bears used some rollouts, and he threw the ball well on the move. GRADE B-

Running Backs

Thomas Jones (25/139, 1-minus 5) showed almost no ill effects from the knee strain he suffered two weeks ago. He delivered the body blow to the Ravens' defense with two cutbacks in the early going that racked up double-digit yardage. With the game on the line, he put the Ravens away, following the unsung Marc Edwards off left tackle for a 42-yard gain. Jones alertly stayed in bounds to keep the clock ticking. He did well to hang onto the football on a rainy, slippery day. When the yardage wasn't there for him at the point of attack, he either cut back or broke tackles to make his own breaks. These are the qualities of a special runner. How much longer will people doubt Thomas Jones? He was a top ten draft pick because of his talent and production. It never materialized in a bad situation in Arizona, and he was never given the opportunity to show his skills until he became a Bear. Cedric Benson (2/6) received a couple of carries but was not a factor. Fullback Marc Edwards (1-9, TD) had another solid game leading the way for Jones. He also scored the Bears' only touchdown on a short pass into the left flat that he took in from nine yards out. GRADE: A


Muhsin Muhammad (3-39) was open on some deep routes early but didn't get the ball thrown his way. He picked up a nice gain on a skinny post later in the game. Mark Bradley (4-37) was more of Orton's favorite target, usually on short routes. As defenders begin to account for his speed by giving him a cushion, quick passes off the line to Bradley will result in solid chunks of yardage to move the chains. He narrowly missed breaking a tackle for a long gain on a slant he caught against a blitz package. Bradley held onto the ball in spite of taking some good hits. Bernard Berrian (2-15) got into the mix; catching a couple passes and making a defender miss on a short route he turned into an 8-yard gain. Bobby Wade had a false start on a 3rd down and two, and also had a drop in the rain along the sideline. He drew a defensive holding penalty to convert a third down. Tight end Desmond Clark (4-50) had his second solid game in a row. He picked up a couple of intermediate gains early, and converted a third down late on a play action rollout. On the down side, Clark committed offensive pass interference to wipe out a completion to Muhammad, dropped a pass he never saw, and couldn't sustain a block that turned into a sack. Gabe Reid saw significant action but was not a factor. John Gilmore also played, and committed a very fortuitous false start which erased a fumbled exchange between center Olin Kreutz and Kyle Orton, which the Ravens recovered. GRADE: C

Offensive Line

John Tait returned at left tackle, after missing last week's game with a sprained ankle. He had a good game, clearing the way for Jones to cut back around his block. He was flagged for holding to erase a decent run by Jones. Roberto Garza started at left guard, and other than an early holding penalty played well, and has really settled in nicely. Olin Kreutz, Terrence Metcalf and Fred Miller communicated well, sealing off the middle and right sides from any blitz pressures the Ravens tried to bring. Run blocking was average overall, with Jones often making his gains on cutbacks instead of through big holes at the point of attack. Pass blocking was excellent, with Orton rarely getting hurried. GRADE: B


Defensive Line

The Bears' defensive line stepped up to set the tone for the game. Adewale Ogunleye (3 tackles, sack, PD) was a force. He applied constant pressure working against Orlando Brown and Tony Pashos. Looking like his ankle injury is behind him; Ogunleye registered a sack, pass deflection and drew a holding penalty. Alex Brown (1 tackle) started at the other end, and was very quiet. He's still a couple of steps late in pass rush pressure, although he's been locking down on run support very well. Michael Haynes saw a few snaps of action. He made a good stop against the run and had pressure to combine for a sack with Alfonso Boone. Tommie Harris was whistled for jumping offsides but appeared to have been drawn off. He held the point of attack well for most of the contest, but then allowed a 13-yard gain in the second half. He left the game with an injury shortly thereafter. Tank Johnson (5 tackles, 2 sacks, TFL) had a breakout game. He made some good plays against the run, and then added two sacks, a tackle for a loss on the quarterback (sounds like a sack) and a pass deflection. Ian Scott had another tackle for a loss, and made life miserable for Jamal Lewis (15/34, 2-6), shutting down the interior of the line. Alfonso Boone played both end and tackle, getting in on a sack and also jumping offsides. Israel Idonije saw some action at tackle but was not a factor. GRADE: A


Brian Urlacher (6 tackles, TFL), Lance Briggs (5 tackles, PD) and Hunter Hillenmeyer (5 tackles) had a very balanced game. All three of them were active against the run in shutting down Lewis. Urlacher had an early tackle for a loss to set the tone. Hillenmeyer made some good plays against the run and also brought down Todd Heap (7-71) for a short gain. Lance Briggs put a huge hit on fullback Alan Ricard to separate him from the ball on a short pass over the middle. He stepped in front of a pass and nearly came away with an interception. Both Briggs and Hillenmeyer were shaken up during the second half for short periods. Run support was excellent. Pass coverage was decent, although lately the Bears have been allowing opposing tight ends to fatten their receiving statistics. GRADE: B


Charles Tillman (3 tackles) had a good game in coverage, and made a few plays versus the run. He had a severe leg cramp and had to leave the game for the locker room before returning. Nathan Vasher (8 tackles, PD) struggled in spots but didn't pay the price. His coverage allowed a couple of third and long conversions, and he was also beaten up the sideline by Mason (2-38) but the Anthony Wright (18-32-164, 5/11) pass was overthrown. He provided good pressure on a blitz and had a pass breakup over the middle where he ripped the ball out of receiver Randy Hymes' grasp. Vasher also put a hit on Chester Taylor that knocked him head over heels. Jerry Azumah and Mike Green saw more action because of Tillman's cramping. Azumah put a huge hit on a scrambling Wright on a third and long to keep him short of the mark. Green got in on a few plays but wasn't a major factor. Safeties Mike Brown (4 tackles) and Chris Harris (3 tackles) were stout in run support but were not factors in coverage. Chris Thompson saw some action as well. The Ravens were without starter Mark Clayton. The Bears shut down Derrick Mason, leaving the Ravens to rely on tight end Todd Heap and their secondary receivers. GRADE: B+


Robbie Gould made a 23-yard field goal but was a little wide right from 47 yards out. His kickoffs averaged the 6-yard line. Punter Brad Maynard was limited because of a calf injury. He couldn't boom his punts, but deftly placed two inside the 10-yard line. Jerry Azumah had two shorter returns. He lost his footing on one of them. Bobby Wade had another decent day returning punts, although only three of them were returned. Coverage for both punts and kicks was good. Todd Johnson was especially active. GRADE: C


Offensive Coordinator Ron Turner mixed in some deeper passes early to loosen up the running game. The use of more play action rollouts were an excellent idea for Orton. This allowed him to focus on only half the field at a time, and to let him throw the ball away if needed since he'd already be out of the pocket. Turner could have mixed a few more runs in early, since Jones has not really been stopped since the Washington game. On defense, Ron Rivera did an excellent job of smothering Baltimore's key weapons in Wright, Lewis and Mason. They again sacrificed coverage to the tight end but were not made to pay for it. Lovie Smith had the team ready for a major battle. It came down to the wire and there were no breakdowns. Instead, Tank Johnson shut the door with a big sack and Thomas Jones stepped up with a big run. GRADE: B


Thomas Jones
Marc Edwards
Tank Johnson
Adewale Ogunleye




Briggs on Ricard
Azumah on Wright
Hillenmeyer on Heap
Vasher on Taylor

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