Report Cards Week 12: Patriots - Bears

The Chicago Bears played a tough game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough last Sunday. Unfortunate turnovers at inopportune times thwarted both teams' offenses. Week 12 report cards for both teams.


PASSING OFFENSE: D-minus -- QB Rex Grossman turned the ball over four times, including three interceptions, and completed just 15 of 34 passes for 176 yards with no touchdowns and a passer rating of 23.7. The Bears' repeated efforts at home run balls did result in a pair off pass interference penalties that picked up 75 yards. WR Bernard Berrian bounced back from a rib injury with five catches for 104 yards.

Chicago Bears quarterback Rex Grossman reacts as he runs off the field after a fumble near the goal line in the second quarter against the New England Patriots during their football game in Foxborough, Mass., Sunday, Nov. 26, 2006. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

RUSHING OFFENSE: B-plus -- The Bears rushed for 153 yards, more than any opponent has gotten on the Patriots this season. Thomas Jones (99 yards on 23 carries) and Cedric Benson (46 on 10) both picked up consistent yardage, although neither was able to break anything longer than 17 yards.

PASS DEFENSE: C -- CB Charles Tillman picked off two Tom Brady passes, both on deflections, but the pass rush didn't get one sack. Four New England receivers had receptions of 20 yards or longer, as the Bears abandoned their nickel defense because they were missing nickel cornerback Ricky Manning Jr., who was serving a one-game suspension.

RUSH DEFENSE: B -- Corey Dillon busted a 26-yard run, but the Patriots' 33 other running plays netted just 59 yards, and they were held to 2.5 yards per attempt overall. The defensive line continued to slump but LBs Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs and Hunter Hillenmeyer all played well, especially Urlacher, who punished Dillon and Laurence Maroney on several occasions.

SPECIAL TEAMS: D -- K Robbie Gould had a 45-yard field-goal attempt blocked, and Brad Maynard had a punt partially blocked. Devin Hester didn't get any punt return opportunities, and kickoff coverage was subpar.

COACHING: C -- The running game was the best it's been all year, considering the quality of the Patriots defense, yet the Bears repeatedly forced the ball deep downfield. That resulted in two long pass-interference penalties for a total of 75 yards, but it was also the reason for two of Grossman's three interceptions and allowed him to get hit nine times, although he was only sacked once. The Bears tried to ice rookie K Stephen Gostkowski by calling for a timeout just before a 52-yard field-goal attempt, which he missed. After the timeout was granted, Gostkowski connected on the re-kick to give New England a 10-3 lead with one second left in the first half.



PASSING OFFENSE: B -- QB Tom Brady faced a Bears defense that came into the game ranked first in defending the pass. While he struggled at times, Brady made big plays at crucial moments, finishing 22-for-33 for 269 yards and a touchdown. He did throw two interceptions but wasn't sacked once. The offensive line had its best game of the year. Brady was barely touched by what is supposed to be one of the top defensive lines in the NFL. TE Ben Watson and RB Kevin Faulk were the favorite targets, combining for 12 receptions, 126 yards and a score. Brady's 40-yard connection with Watson late in the fourth quarter was a huge play. It was an encouraging performance for Brady and the Patriots against a tough Bears defense.

RUSHING OFFENSE: D -- Chicago totally shut down the Patriots ground game. Corey Dillon had a big 26-yard run early on but was invisible after that. He finished with 40 yards, while Laurence Maroney only had 33 yards on 13 carries. Both players had costly fumbles, Maroney when the Patriots were threatening to score and Dillon when they were trying to run out the clock. Ironically, the Patriots' most important run of the game came on an 11-yard scamper by Tom Brady on third-and-9 to set up the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter. Other than that, however, the Patriots rushing attack did very little.

New England Patriots cornerback Asante Samuel (22) returns an intercepted pass as teammate Artrell Hawkins looks on during the third quarter of the Patriots 17-13 win in a NFL football game at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. Sunday, Nov. 26, 2006. Samuel had three interceptions in the game. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)

PASS DEFENSE: A -- Rex Grossman had about as bad a game as a quarterback can have in the NFL. He finished with a passer rating of only 23.7 after throwing three interceptions and committing one costly fumble inside the 5-yard line. Bernard Berrian caught five passes for 104 yards, but the Bears' other receivers were quiet. Asante Samuel had a tremendous game, picking off Grossman three times. On the other side, Ellis Hobbs had a tough day. The Bears picked on him often, and the end result was usually either a completed pass or a penalty. The Patriots put pressure on Grossman, causing him to get rid of the ball early, but only recorded one sack.

RUSH DEFENSE: C-minus -- Chicago moved the ball well on the ground, especially in the second half. The Bears ran for 153 yards on 36 carries. Thomas Jones had 99 yards, while Cedric Benson ran hard and chipped in with 46 yards. Junior Seau was injured early on and Mike Vrabel had to move inside. It appeared that after Seau left the game, the Bears were able to run the ball with more success right up the middle. With Seau lost for the season, the Patriots will be thin at inside linebacker for the rest of the year.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B-minus -- Ken Walter came in and punted pretty much the same as Josh Miller did before he went on injured reserve. That's not necessarily a good thing. While Walter struggled, Chicago's Brad Maynard was even worse, netting only 31.0 yards per attempt. He also had one punt blocked by Mike Wright. The Bears' Robbie Gould missed a field goal for the first time this year when Richard Seymour got a hand on his 45-yard attempt. Meanwhile, Stephen Gostkowski made a 52-yarder just before the half -- the longest of his career. Laurence Maroney continued to be effective on kickoff returns, and the coverage units did a good job of not letting the dangerous Devin Hester hurt them.

COACHING: A -- The Patriots played well in all three phases of the game. Offensively, things didn't always come easily against a tough Bears defense, but the Patriots stayed patient and made plays when they had to. Defensively, New England forced four turnovers and never let Grossman get comfortable in the pocket. The Patriots blocked both a punt and field goal while not allowing any big special teams returns. It wasn't the prettiest win, but the coaching staff had a solid game plan and the players pulled together to get a hard-fought victory over a good Bears squad. The only negative was the running game. The Patriots need to start giving Maroney the keys to the car, much as the Colts have done with Joseph Addai.


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