The Baltimore Ravens were up 10-0 in the first quarter when, with just under five minutes to go, it was time to batten down the hatches at Soldier Field to ride out a 1-hour and 54-minute storm delay. Both teams emerged from the tunnels afterwards to turf that had been turned into a marsh by the driving rain.
When the two teams got back to action they tore up the field until the Chicago Bears managed to slip past the Ravens in overtime 23-20. Here are five things we learned now that the city is drying out.
Josh McCown has waited until age 34 to discover he has a career as a quarterback.
Heading into the 2013 Josh McCown’s career barely qualified as mediocre. In 10 seasons he had played in only 52 games, starting 33 times for a 13-20 record. Twice he started the season as a team’s starting quarterback, in 2004 for Arizona and 2007 for Oakland, but never finished as the starter. In his career he had thrown for 37 Touchdowns, 44 Interceptions with a 73.1 Passer Rating.
So far this year he’s been one of the best back-up quarterbacks in the NFL. When Jay Cutler went down with his groin injury the Bears had no one else to turn to. McCown started his second game of the season against the Ravens and for the second time, led the Bears to a victory.
He threw for 216-yards on as difficult a day to throw as the Bears have faced all season and added another touchdown to the four he’s already thrown in 2013. He has yet to throw an interception in his 101 attempts this season and has a 100.0 Passer Rating.
McCown has had his greatest career success playing for Marc Trestman. Can a system make a quarterback or did it take until now for McCown to figure things out on the NFL level? Whatever the reason, he has gained the confidence of everyone on the Bears and succeeded in keeping the team in the playoff hunt while they wait for Jay Cutler to completely heal.
The Bears were successful throughout the NFC Conference on Sunday.
After last week’s 21-19 loss to the Detroit Lions, their toughest loss of the 2013 season to date, it appeared the Bears would have to navigate through a crowded wild card field to make the playoffs. The Lions were only one game ahead of the Bears in the standings but held the tiebreaker advantage by sweeping the season series.
The Bears matched the Lions with a 6-4 record after Detroit lost to Pittsburgh 37-27. Both opened up a one-game lead over Green Bay after the Packers lost to the New York Giants 27-13.
In the most important conference game to the Bears played on Sunday, the New Orleans Saints came from behind to defeat the San Francisco 49ers 23-20, dropping them to 6-4 for the season.
To complete the perfect weekend the Bears need a victory by the New England Patriots over the Carolina Panthers on Monday Night Football. That would line them up with the same record 6-4 as the rest of their competition for a spot in the playoffs.
The Bears failed in their best opportunity this season to show they could stop the run.
Going into the game the Ravens were No. 30 in the NFL in Rushing Yards and tied with the Jacksonville Jaguars for last in Rushing Yards per Attempt. There was only one game where they gained over 100-yards this season.
Up to Sunday the Bears had allowed 4.5-yards per rushing attempt, good for No. 25 in the league, but allowed Ray Rice to tear through them for 131-yards in 25 carries for a 5.2-YPA average.
With games still to come against Adrian Peterson, who gained 100-yards against them in Week 2, DeMarco Murray and LeSean McCoy still on the schedule this weakness could still cost them a 2013 playoff appearance.
The Bears played their most undisciplined game of the year.
One of head coach Marc Trestman’s priorities heading into training camp last summer was to reduce the number of penalties per game, especially by the offensive line. Until today they’ve been very successful in achieving that goal, especially with two rookies starting on the right side of the offensive line.
Going into the game the Bears were fourth in the NFL, flagged only 40 times in nine games. They also had the second fewest penalty yards in the league with 357.
Against the Ravens the Bears were penalized 13 times for 111-yards, triple their 2013 average per game. When you’re a team that only managed 319 Total Yards that’s a lot of field position to give back. On this day they got away with it. It’s certain that this is an issue that Trestman will address head-on as the Bears prepare to play the Rams in Week 12.
The Bears aren’t completely without talent on the defensive side of the ball.
One of the Bears’ veterans, defensive linemen came through in a big way on Sunday. Julius Peppers led the team with 11 tackles, four for loss along with two sacks.
Among the rookies that have been forced into action by injuries Jon Bostic contributed 5 tackles. More encouragingly, he got deep on one of his pass coverages and picked off Joe Flacco to set up the Bears with field position to drive for a field goal before the end of the first half.
Earlier, defensive end David Bass fought off a block, got his hands in the air and intercepted a Flacco pass and returned it for the touchdown that tied the game at 10 in the second quarter.
The Bears will need to make a lot of decisions on defense in the next offseason but the cupboard isn’t completely bare.