FOXBOROUGH – Bill Belichick had a chance to pass George “Papa Bear” Halas and move into second place in all-time coaching wins in NFL history. Standing in his way was the team Halas founded as the Decatur Staleys in 1920 and coached for four decades into the 1960s.
Da Bears looked like they won this one for Papa Bear.
The Bears excelled in all phases of the game, and took advantage of a flat Patriot team who started the wrong quarterback and never really overcame their awful start. The Patriots did erase an early 10-0 deficit, but that turned out to be a mirage as Chicago scored the final 23 points of the game. The Bears beat the Patriots, 33-14 on a misty and foggy Monday night at Gillette Stadium, a game where literally no one saw this result coming.
Most NFL observers will look back on this game and dissect the quarterback situation for the Patriots, how Mac Jones was pulled after three drives and a bad interception on his last throw of the game. Bailey Zappe came in in the second quarter and quickly put up two touchdowns to give the Patriots a 14-10 lead. But this all turned out to be footnotes, as Justin Fields picked this game to finally look like he did with Ohio State, and the Bears defense finally played their first great game against the Patriots since Super Bowl XX.
Jones was simply the wrong choice to start at quarterback. He was 3 of 6 passing for 13 yards, a pick and a rating of 16.7. He looked uncomfortable on every snap, his offensive line did him no favors with bad run blocking and pass blocking (and several penalties on Trent Brown), and the Bears came out with more intensity and ferocity than the Patriots did. The Patriots played most of the game like they were favored by a touchdown and showed very little urgency against the Bears until Zappe came into the game.
Zappe should have had the start, although the game might still be lost in the end. Jones has to be inconsolable after what was a lousy evening, made worse by the fans at the stadium chanting Zappe’s name almost constantly. Belichick has a big job to do with Jones, as he is the real main man and not Zappe. Right now, Jones has to be a shell of himself and should actually never have played a down tonight.
Zappe’s first two drives were mostly about two deep left sideline throws. He found Jakobi Meyers on a deep post pattern, and Meyers caught the almost-overthrown ball at the three, then bounced into the end zone to get the Patriots on the board. After a Myles Bryant pick, Zappe came in and hit DeVante Parker with a 43-yard bomb down the left sideline with Parker outjumping Jaylon Johnson for the ball. Two plays later, Rhamondre Stevenson ran it in from four yards out and it was 14-10 Patriots.
But that would be it for the Patriots. On the following drive, the Patriot defense, the real culprit of this game, soon discovered that it had no answer for Fields as he suddenly morphed into Lamar Jackson’s doppelganger. Chicago drove 50 yards to the Patriot 25, then Matt Judon and Dietrich Wise converged upon Fields and had him sacked back at the 33. Unfortunately, Fields was able to get off a sidearm flick pass a la Patrick Mahomes to Khalil Herbert in the left flat, and thanks to a huge block by Braxton Jones, whizzed untouched into the end zone to give Chicago the lead back at 17-14, a lead they would not relinquish.
Three plays later, Zappe tried to hand off to Meyers on a jet sweep left, but they muffed the exchange and Justin Jones recovered. As time expired in the half, Cairo Santos hit a 23-yard field goal to make it 20-14 Bears at the half.
The Bears scored on their first three drives of the second half, while the Patriots either went three and out or turned the ball over on interceptions the entire time.
A 29-yard run by Dante Pettis around the right end with no Patriot anywhere nearby in containment set up a 38-yard field goal by Santos. Later, an unlikely leaping sideline catch by Cole Kmet for 26 yards helped set up a 50-yard Santos field goal. A 33-yard punt return set up the Bears on their next drive, and David Montgomery blasted in from one-yard out to complete the scoring as the game lurched on into the fourth quarter.
The Bears defense batted down passes at the line of scrimmage all game long. In the fourth quarter, one such tipped pass by Dominique Robinson fell into the arms of Roquan Smith, the All-Pro linebacker who took the place of Khalil Mack. Zappe’s first pick of the year that can be attributed to the rookie happened on the next drive, as Zappe tried to hit Tyquan Thornton in the left flat with a weak throw that Kyler Gordon easily picked off.
The Chicago offense ran up 390 total yards, but aiding their cause was the fact that the Bears were able to convert 11 of 18 third downs. Fields was a one-man wrecking crew, as he was the leading rusher with 82 carries on 14 carries and a 5.9 average per carry. Montgomery and Herbert both totalled 62 yards rushing. As a team, the Bears rushed for 243 yards and a 5.4 per carry average.
Fields’ passing numbers were not eye-popping. He finished 13 of 21 passing for 179 yards, one touchdown, one interception and an 85.2 rating. Equanimous St. Brown led the Bears with four receptions, and Darnell Mooney had 53 yards receiving. Again, these numbers are not astounding. The Patriot defense was gashed by the rushing attack, and they allowed Fields to look like one of the best mobility quarterbacks in the NFL. Seeing as how they were gashed by Jackson four weeks ago, the Patriots once again showed that they are vulnerable to running quarterbacks.
Zappe, who had a perfect passer rating at halftime, finished 14 of 22 passing for 185 yards, one touchdown, two picks and a 67.4 passer rating. Stevenson led the Patriots with eight receptions, but only averaged 7.4 yards per catch as he was often used as a safety valve with no other options open. Parker led the Patriots with 68 receiving yards.
Run the ball, stop the run. That’s what the Bears did. As a team, the Patriots rushed for 70 yards and a 3.7 per carry average. Especially when Jones was in there, the running game was totally non-existent. Jones was a dead duck from the start. Experts will hem and haw over Zappe versus Jones, but in the end there was no rushing game, and the defense could not stop the Bears on the ground. That combination, and not so much the quarterback situation, did more to hurt the Patriots than anything else.
Now the Patriots get a much improved Jet team next weekend in the Meadowlands. Their rookie star running back, Breece Hall, is lost for the season with a torn ACL. Whether that weakens the Jets enough for the Patriots to have a puncher’s chance to win remains to be seen.
But the Patriots took a punch in the mouth from the Bears. Belichick will have to pass Halas against some other team. Papa Bear had to be smiling at his team from Head Coach Heaven.
And now damage control begins at Fort Foxborough. Jones has to be placated, Zappe needs to understand his place in the overall scheme of things, the fans need to hold their tongues and let this situation right itself, and hopefully things will be all right in the end.
Posted Under: Patriots News
Tags: Chicago Bears New England Patriots