PASSING OFFENSE: A-minus -- Jay Cutler threw for 302 yards, the second time he has had more than 300 in a game in his career. His receivers made plays, and he had some very nice throws after a slow start. Even without Javon Walker for most of the season, Cutler will surpass 3,000 yards and is having a fine second season.
RUSHING OFFENSE: B -- Andre Hall filled in well for injured TBs Travis Henry and Selvin Young. Hall suffered a high ankle sprain on the first play of the game, and the Broncos were impressed he played most of the game through it. Hall went over 100 yards briefly, then lost a few in the fourth quarter and ended with 98. Hall also had a long gain on a screen pass. Mike Bell fumbled on his first carry and was benched. Cecil Sapp finished the game at tailback because Hall couldn't go any further.
PASS DEFENSE: B -- For most of the game, the Broncos played very well against the pass. Rex Grossman was barely above 100 yards during the fourth quarter. An illegal contact call on a fourth down against Broncos CB Dre Bly started a downward spiral for the Broncos. Grossman got hot, hitting five of his last six passes. In overtime, the Bears basically won the game on the first play, when TE Desmond Clark got behind the defense and caught a 39-yard pass.
RUSH DEFENSE: B -- The Broncos gave up a couple of decent runs, but for the most part they did a good job. Cedric Benson was knocked out of the game early with an ankle injury, but Adrian Peterson didn't have a big game. He did have some tough runs, including one when he carried defenders into the end zone on a 4-yard touchdown, but the Broncos run defense wasn't to blame for the loss.
SPECIAL TEAMS: F -- Denver's special teams were the reason the team lost. Yes, the offense couldn't get any first downs late in the fourth quarter and the defense gave up two drives late in the game. But without Devin Hester's two returns for touchdowns and a blocked punt in the fourth quarter that led to an 18-yard touchdown drive, the Broncos win easily. Their decision to kick to Hester backfired in a big way.
COACHING: F -- The grade was earned strictly on the decision to kick
to Hester, who returned two kicks for scores. Hester single-handedly
kept the Bears in the game. Even with those returns, the Broncos led by
14 with half of the fourth quarter expired and found a way to lose.
This defeat will affect the Broncos for a long time to come.
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