It's 2nd-and-12 on the Bears' own 48-yard line. WR Muhsin Muhammad is split wide right, with WR Bernard Berrian split left. WR Rashied Davis is slot left, TE Desmond Clark is on the right edge of the line, and RB Cedric Benson is by himself in the backfield.
At the snap, all three receivers plus Clark head downfield. Grossman takes a five-step drop and searches the middle of the field for an open receiver. At the same time, Colts All-Pro defensive end Dwight Freeney, one of the fastest rushers in the game, blows by left tackle John St. Clair's outside shoulder. Yet St. Clair doesn't give up on the play and works his body between Freeney, who rushes too far into the backfield, and Grossman. He ends up using Freeney's momentum to push him all the way to the other side of the line. This leaves a gaping hole on the left side of the field. Grossman, who can't find an open receiver, rolls left into the area vacated by Freeney and is soon all by himself.
During this time, Berrian has run an out-and-up pattern – also known as a snake route. The pattern starts Berrian toward the sideline before turning upfield. He manages to sneak past the Colts cornerback and is alone along the sideline 20 yards from the line of scrimmage. Grossman sees this and fires a pass to Berrian, who snatches the ball out of the air before tiptoeing out of bounds. The plays goes for 27 yards and gives the Bears a first down in Indianapolis territory.
The first thing I found interesting about this play is Grossman's presence of mind in the pocket. He feels Freeney behind him and makes his way out of the pocket and into the open flat. Last year, Grossman had a 32.0 passer rating when throwing from out of the pocket – second lowest for a starting quarterback – so I originally had reservations about his effectiveness once he rolled out. But he took his time, squared his shoulders, and delivered a strike – something I can't remember seeing last season.
The other thing that grabbed my attention was the place on the field where Berrian caught the ball. One of the few soft spots in the Cover 2 defense, which both the Colts and Bears run, is the area 15-20 yards downfield along the sidelines. This spot is just past the cornerback and just before the safety. If a quarterback can deliver a pass at the same moment his receiver reaches this area, it is almost a guaranteed completion. As such, it was great recognition by both Grossman and Berrian to find that spot in the zone and exploit one of the only weaknesses in the Cover 2.
BEARS ON DEFENSE
The Colts have a 3rd-and-goal at the 1-yard line. They line up in a two-tight-end set with receivers split wide on both sides and RB Joseph Addai alone in the backfield. The Bears counter with four down linemen. Additionally, SS Adam Archuleta and LB Hunter Hillenmeyer line up on the edges, giving them a total of six defenders along the line. LBs Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs stand a few yards back.
At the snap, the Colts attempt to run the ball off left tackle. Urlacher sees this and blitzes hard into the face of Indianapolis' left guard. This leaves second-year defensive tackle Dusty Dvoracek one-on-one against center Jeff Saturday. Dvoracek powers his way into the backfield staying low and using his legs, pushing Saturday into the face of the running back. Addai is forced to bounce back to his right, where he meets Archuleta and DE Adewale Ogunleye who combine for the tackle at the 1-yard line. The Colts fail to score.
With all of the offseason talk about the Bears being thin at defensive tackle after the departures of Tank Johnson, Alfonso Boone, and Ian Scott, it's good to see Dvoracek stepping up his game. Hopefully, his presence will make the Bears forget they ever had a player named Tank.
Although he didn't make the tackle, no player was more important on this play than Urlacher. His blitz sealed off the left side of the play and didn't allow the Colts' line to double-team Dvoracek. Without his power rush through the left side of the line, Indianapolis most likely scores. It just goes to show that even when he's not making highlight-reel plays, Urlacher is still the most vital part of this defense.
Jeremy Stoltz is an Associate Editor for Chicago Sports Weekly. He is a regular contributor to Bear Report and BearReport.com.