COMMENTARY | Far too often, the phrase “must win” is used with great frequency in sports. However, this is exactly what the Chicago Bears were facing when they squared off against the Arizona Cardinals on December 23. Thanks to a recent three-game winning losing streak and five losses in their previous six games, a postseason berth is no longer a certainty for this team. Despite their recent tailspin though, victories in the next two weeks, along with some help, would still allow the Bears to clinch a playoff spot. With their backs against the wall, the Bears dominated in a 28-13 victory, handing the Cardinals their 10th loss in 11 games. Here are my offensive and defensive grades for the Bears from this contest.
Defense – A:
It is no secret this unit was largely responsible for the team’s 7-1 start, as they forced 28 turnovers during that stretch. That being said, the Bears needed a solid performance from the defense and that is exactly what they got. Aside from limiting the Cardinals to just 248 net yards, the defense also recorded four sacks, while forcing three turnovers, two of which resulted in touchdowns. The multiple takeaways were a breath of fresh air for both the players and the fans as well. It should also be noted the defense did not yield an offensive touchdown and did a good job forcing Arizona into third and long situations. As a result, the Cardinals were only 3-for-15 on third-down conversions. The defense stepped up in a game the Bears absolutely needed to win and they are the reason why the Bears still have a chance to get into the postseason.
Offense – B:
The offensive line played well, giving Jay Cutler plenty of time to throw the ball against the Cardinals 11th ranked defense. Despite this fact, Cutler did not have a great day, completing just 12-of-26 passes for 146 yards and a touchdown. Matt Forte rushed for 88 yards on 12 carries, but left the game in the second half with an ankle injury. Brandon Marshall, who continues his ascent into the team’s record books, caught six passes for 68 yards and a touchdown. While it was good to see the Bears produce 152 yards on the ground, the aerial game still leaves a lot to be desired.
FINAL ANALYSIS: The victory over the Cardinals was huge because it keeps the Bears in the playoff picture. Next up, the Bears will head to Ford Field to take on the 4-11 Detroit Lions. Not only do the Bears need to beat the Lions, they will also need the Green Bay Packers to beat the Minnesota Vikings in order to secure the last playoff spot in the conference.
James Tillman III is a resident of the Chicago-land area, who has followed the Bears for over 20 seasons. James is also a Featured Sports Contributor for Yahoo! Contributor Network and a Sports Journalist/Contributor for Sports Rantz Magazine. Follow him on Twitter @jtillman9693
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