5 Things We Learned: Bears-Seahawks
December, 3, 2012
By Jeff Dickerson | ESPNChicago.com
AP Photo/Nam Y. HuhRussell Wilson proved that he could win on the road Sunday in Soldier Field.CHICAGO -- Here are Five Things We Learned from the Bears' 23-17 overtime loss to the Seattle Seahawks:
1. Seattle has the Bears' number: Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll now has seven road wins during his tenure in Seattle, and three of them are at Soldier Field. That's amazing. Despite the fact the Bears played at home last Sunday while the Seahawks had to travel to Miami, go back to Seattle, then fly to Chicago, all in the span of less than a week, Carroll's group looked fresher down the stretch. The Bears played hard, but it's a tough loss because it comes against another team with legitimate NFC playoff aspirations. When are the Bears going to prove they can beat a good team? Will we have to wait until the postseason for the answer to that question? If so, it could be a very short playoff run for the Bears.
2. Bears needed to take the points: Bears head coach Lovie Smith is correct when he says a team should be able to convert on fourth-and-short. But the Bears probably made a mistake when they elected to go for it on fourth-and-one from the Seahawks' 15-yard line early in the second quarter instead of taking the sure three points. Entering the game the Seahawks gave up the third fewest amount of points per game in the league. Even on the road, where they came in with a record of 1-5, they've managed to keep it close and low-scoring. A field goal would have given the Bears a 10-0 lead and all the momentum in the world. Instead, the Bears fail to convert, hand the football back to Seattle, and in the blink of an eye the Seahawks are up 10-7 at halftime. Always take the points, especially with this inconsistent Bears' offense.
3. Bears' plan to stop Russell Wilson failed: All week the Bears were told to keep Wilson in the pocket. It didn't happen. Wilson showed the poise of a 10-year veteran when he led the Seahawks' offense on key scoring drives at the end of regulation and in overtime. Not only did Wilson showcase an impressive arm, his ability to make plays with his feet was probably the difference in the game. How can you walk away from this game and not believe that Wilson is a future star quarterback in this league? A lot of people, myself included, questioned the Seahawks' wisdom when they selected Wilson in the third round of the 2012 NFL draft out of the University of Wisconsin. Outsiders wondered why Seattle would start Wilson over Matt Flynn, who the Seahawks gave decent money to in free agency. They were right, we were wrong. Wilson is the real deal. That zone-read the Seahawks ran with Wilson at the helm was unstoppable.
4. Injuries slowed down the Bears: The Bears will never use this as an excuse but there are a lot of star players on the defense that are fighting through injuries. Lance Briggs (ankle) and Charles Tillman (ankle) both missed practice on Wednesday and were unable to finish last week's game versus Minnesota, while Brian Urlacher (knee) and Julius Peppers (ankle) have been doing their best to manage pain all year long. It didn't help matters that Chris Conte came down with the flu, or that Urlacher (hamstring) and cornerback Tim Jennings (shoulder) both got knocked out of the Seattle game late. Give all the credit in the world to Wilson for making plays, but the Bears' defense looked a step slow on Sunday. Nagging injuries could be one reason why.
5. Jay Cutler is in a zone: The play of the Bears quarterback the past two weeks has been outstanding. The Cutler-to-Brandon Marshall combination is working to perfection, so don't mess with it. Cutler can target Marshall 20 times a game for all I care. The Bears have never had a weapon like this at wide receiver or a quarterback like Cutler who is capable of delivering the football with such zip. This is the most confident Cutler has looked since he arrived in Chicago in 2009. Keep it up.