Game Blog Week 12: Patriots vs Bears

In-game blog updated often with key observations about the game between the New England Patriots and the Chicago Bears. Patriots manage to hold on for the win 17-13.

Refresh regularly, blog updated often

1st
2nd
3rd
4th
Score
PATRIOTS
0
10
0
7
17
Bears
0
3
0
10
13

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UPDATE 8:30pm: GAME PATRIOTS WIN

UPDATE 8:15pm: Game Set Match

One play after the Bears defense handed the ball back to Rex Grossman, he managed to revert to the turnover maven he's been much maligned for. Grossman took the ball with first and 10 and 1:52 left only to launch an ill-advised pass deep downfield.

Patriots veteran corner Asante Samuel - who had been burned earlier - cut in front of the receiver for a relatively easy interception. The play snuffed out any hope of a Bears comeback.

Patriots ran the clock out at that point to win the game.

FINAL SCORE: Patriots 17 - Bears 13

Game Notes:
-- The Patriots improve to 8-3 and one step close to clinching the AFC east division crown in spite of the New York Jets win earlier today against the Texans.
-- Kevin Faulk's reception in the third quarter tied Tony Collins' record for most catches by a Patriots running back at 261. His next catch - a 9-yard reception in the fourth period - broke the record.
-- Stephen Gostkowski's 52-yard filed goal in the second quarter was the longest of his career.
-- Asante Samuel managed three interceptions for the game, which tied a team record.
-- Tom Brady was not sacked during the game, something that has not happened to the Bears since the Miami game, which the Bears also lost.

UPDATE: 7:40pm: FUMBLE

Again with the fumbles. Corey Dillon had the ball ripped out of his arm before he was able to hit the turf on a third and five play from the Bears 28. Dillon tried to go to the ground, but the Bears - as they have done well all year - ripped the ball from his arm before his knee touched down. One has to give credit to the Bears defense for finding ways to create turnovers out of plays that would normally have been blown dead.

I's more impressive with Chicago's ability to find ways to sustain the play and rip the ball out than either team's ability to move the ball downfield. Sure Brady has the ability to find ways to score, but the Bears defense has now ripped the ball away from a Patriots unit that should have had three scores in the Bears red zone. Without that defense the Bears would have been completely blown out by now.

It's one thing to say defense can win championships, but offenses need to be productive to at least score a few points. At this point in the game, Brady has looked light years ahead of Grossman, although the younger Florida QB has made plays to keep the Bears in the game.

UPDATE: 7:20: FG BEARS

The Bears managed to get back on the board with another field goal against a very tough Patriots defense. 10 plays and 66 yards later the Bears were able to drive against the tough Patriots defense but they didn't get it into the end zone and that may be trouble for them. In a game where every score matters with two great defenses facing each other, the inability of the offense to match points could be the difference in the game.

One thing that stands out is Walt Coleman's officiating crew. Although Coleman's crew is the same unit that called the Patriots win in the Snow Bowl against the Oakland Raiders in 2001, they've called a fairly even game. With calls and non-calls going against both teams, mostly on deep pass plays, the game has been fairly well officiated.

There's bound to be talk about how the Bears only ability to stay with the Patriots depended upon the pass interference calls against the much-maligned Patriots secondary.

Chicago has the weapons to score quickly. It's all a matter of the Patriots ability to stop the big play at this point. Chicago doesn't appear to want to sustain drives, they have looked for the big play time and again. If there's one thing that will determine the outcome it will be the Bears decision to go for the sure thing (a first down) vs. the big play (a deep bomb). Both options are available, but the Patriots look like a team that is willing to give up the sure thing (short pass) to prevent the game changer (deep bomb).

Key Plays: Thomas Jones' run on 3rd-and-1 at the Bears 29. The 30-yard pass interference play against Ellis Hobbs who was covering Bernard Berrian was a major catalyst of the drive. Without it, the Bears would have had to punt..

If the Bears need pass interference calls to move the ball, which has been the case today, then their offense is in serious need of an infusion of playmaking ability. The Bears have been dangerous, but the officials have been the ones who have determined the outcome of the game thus far on the big plays. Both defenses have lived up to the hype.

Score: Patriots 17 - Bears 13

UPDATE 7:00pm: TOUCHDOWN PATRIOTS
11 plays and 73 yards later the New England Patriots manage to get back on top of the Chicago Bears 17-10 on a short pass from Tom Brady to Ben Watson.

Key plays: Tom Brady to Ben Watson for 40 yards from the Patriots 34 to the Bears 26. With that play the Patriots appeared to snatch back any momentum the Bears may have had with tier last score. Other key Watson's grab in the end zone when the Chicago defense expected a run.

Score: Patriots 17 - Bears 10

UPDATE 6:30pm: TOUCHDOWN BEARS

four plays 53-yards later the Bears answer the Patriots touchdown with one of their own. The referees had a bit to do with the drive as a 45-yard pass interference call on Artrell Hawkins on 3rd-and-eight on the Bears 49 put the ball on the Patriots 7 with a first down at the New England 6.

The Bears ran the ball in two plays later to tie the score.

Key Plays: pass interference on Artrell Hawkins. It looked to be the type of play that could be called either way. Without the call the Bears would have lost their momentum, and would have been down by 7. The play seemed to be a shift in momentum, but not completely as the crowd is still into it. The Bears are back in the game, but the omen that the Refs are starting to take over is a concern.

Score: Patriots 10 - Bears 10

 

UPDATE 6:00pm: AT THE HALF

At the half the Patriots have managed to hold the Bears offense in check in spite of some key big plays. The Bears have the weapons to make big plays against a banged-up defense. It's incredulous that the Bears cannot gain big yardage against a secondary starting its third-string players, missing Rodney Harrison, Eugene Wilson and Junior Seau.

Rex Grossman has plenty of big plays against this defense but no scores. It speaks volumes of the Patriots ability to field players despite an unbelievable litany of injuries.
Stats at the half:

Patriots:
Tom Brady 13/21 for 124 and 1 INT
Corey Dillon 4/26 yards rushing
Laurence Maroney 9/25 yards rushing and 1 TD
Dan Graham 1/15 receiving
Laurence Mroney 3/25 receiving

Bears:
Rex Grossman 12/23 157 and 1 INT
Cedric Benson 7/39 yards rushing
Bernard Berrian 5/104 yards receiving
Muhsin Muhammad 2/19 yards receiving

Observations: The Patriots have the ability to run the ball, but turnovers are the key to this game. Each time the team ready to score the opportunity is snuffed out by the other team's defense. Both teams have had turnovers in the red zone. If they want to win the game - which appears to be a field goal spread - then they must hold on to the ball when they're close to scoring
Watson's second turnover was all about his ability to protect the football in prime field posting.
Keys to the Second Half: Turnovers.
It looks like the team able to create a turnover at a key moment will win the game. Both teams have had success running and passing. When they had the opportunity to score, the defense found a way to turn the ball over.

INJURY UPDATE:
LB Junior Seau is listed as OUT, likely with a broken arm.
OL Ryan O'Callaghan - who was injured trying to block Brian Urlacher - is also out.

SCORE: Patriots 10 - Bears 3

UPDATE 5:50pm: FG PATRIOTS

Tom Brady directed a 9-play 27-yard drive to get the Patriots into field goal range. With two plays revered on the drive; a 9-yard catch by Reche Caldwell on second-and-10 then a 27-yard completion by Ben Watson.

Key Plays: 9-yard pass to Laurence Maroney on 3rd and three from the Bears 43.

Score: Patriots 10 - Bears 3

UPDATE 5:50pm: FG PATRIOTS

Tom Brady directed a 9-play 27-yard drive to get the Patriots into field goal range. With two plays revered on the drive; a 9-yard catch by Reche Caldwell on second-and-10 then a 27-yard completion by Ben Watson.

Key Plays: 9-yard pass to Laurence Maroney on 3rd and three from the Bears 43.

Score: Patriots 10 - Bears 3

UPDATE 5:20pm: FG BEARS

The Chicago Bears have managed to find a hole in the Patriots defense as they continue to finds ways to move the ball against the Patriots defense.

11 plays and a 46-yard drive later, the Bears manage to get on the board. Former Patriots Robbie Gould, who had his first attempt blocked, split the uprights to put the Bears on the board.

Key plays: Cedric Benson run of 16 yards shortly after the Seau injury. Benson found a hole up the middle as both Mike Vrabel and Tedy Bruschi tried to fill.

Gould's 46-yard field goal was good

Score: Patriots 7 - Bears 3

UPDATE 5:15pm: SEAU INJURY
In what looked to be an innocuous stop of a running play by Junior Seau, the veteran linebacker rolled around on the ground after making a great tackle. Seau apparently grabbed at Cedric Benson's ankle to stop him from getting outside on a 2nd-and-ten play. Benson gained no ground, but Seau looked to be in great pain.

After the training staff attended to the veteran he left the field pumping his chest with his good arm as his other was wrapped in a black cast. Speculating on the injury, it appears that Seau did major damage to his arm, possible a break.

UPDATE 4:45pm: Takeaways are the story

The Bears managed an impressive drive starting from their own 15 driving all the way to the Patriots 5 before fate turned. Rex Grossman took the snap and dropped it immediately, Richard Seymour was able to jump on the ball in the scrum to snuff out a legitimate threat to the Patriots defensive dominance.

On the drive Grossman had enough time to fight off the pressure to find receivers all over the field. The key play on the drive was Grossman's connection with Bernard Berrian on a 47-yard bomb. Berrian caught the ball over an Asante Samuel attempt to disrupt the pass. Samuel had possession but missed the ball as he attempted to pick it off.

UPDATE 4:20pm: Early slugging

In the first series for each team both the Patriots and the Bears defenses have shown that they're ready to play. Both teams went three and out. In the second series for New England Tom Brady was harried and rushed into a couple of quick throws. Although New England was able to get some yardage against a stout Bears defense, it's all about turnovers, and it happened early.

In the second drive, Brady attempted to connect with Ben Watson near the goal line. When Watson caught the ball he was hit immediately. The Bears defender put his helmet on the ball popping it high into the air. The ball was picked out of the air by Charles Tillman for the Patriots first turnover of the game.

Inactives:

Bears:
WR, Justin Gage; DL, Antonio Garay; DB Andre Lott; LB Darrell McClover; OL, Anthony Oakley; QB, Kyle Orton; RB, J.D. Runnels; CB, Dante Wesley

Patriots:
OL, Wesley Britt; S, Rodney Harrison; DE, Marquise Hill; LB, Corey Mays; DL, Le Kevin; DB, Chad Scott; Smith; QB, Vinny Testaverde; S, Eugene Wilson

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