NFC North standings
Detroit Lions: 6-4
Chicago Bears: 6-4
Green Bay Packers: 5-5
Minnesota Vikings: 2-8
Last week: 23-20 home win against the Baltimore Ravens in OT
A week after ceding sole possession of first place in the NFC North to the Lions, the Bears again equaled Detroit's record by beating the Ravens in overtime on a rainy Sunday afternoon. The Ravens got things started early in the game by going up 10-0 on their first two possessions. However, this momentum was stymied by a two-hour weather delay amid tornado and flash flood warnings in the Chicago area.
Once play resumed, the Bears rebounded and outscored the Ravens 13-7 in the second quarter. After a quiet third quarter, the Bears took the lead for the first time with a 14-yard touchdown reception by running back Matt Forte with just over 10 minutes remaining in the game. After trading unsuccessful drives, the Ravens drove the length of the field to tie the game with a 21-yard field goal with 6 seconds left in regulation.
Baltimore received the ball first in overtime and, thanks to an offside penalty and a poor Robbie Gould kick, began their drive on their own 36-yard line. After one first down, their drive sputtered out on the Chicago 46 and they were forced to punt. Chicago quarterback Josh McCown and the Bears' offense made short work of their drive by moving down the field in chunks thanks to at 14-yard reception by Alshon Jeffery and a 43-yard reception by Martellus Bennett. Bears coach Marc Trestman then showed his faith in Gould by lining up for a 38-yard field goal on third down. That faith paid off, and Gould connected to hand the Bears a 6-4 record.
Robbie Gould - Do you know what Gould's career field goal percentage is? 86.3. For a kicker who has spent his entire career on Chicago's dubious turf and in a swirling outdoor stadium, that is incredible. He has never missed a kick inside of 30 yards and has only missed 4 outside of 50. A 38-yard field goal is no gimmie, especially during a tornado warning, but Gould delivered on Sunday.
Pass defense - The Bears made life difficult for Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco. He turned in a 17-for-31 day for a mere 162 yards with 2 interceptions. Part of this may have been the weather, but it didn't affect McCown that much.
Jay Cutler's contract hopes - McCown is getting things done by stepping in and leading the offense to roughly the same level of production Cutler offered. McCown has established chemistry with the Bears' pass catchers, most notably Jeffery, and is leading many to wonder why the Bears should pay Cutler "Flacco Money" when a career backup can achieve the same level of success. McCown's grade from Pro Football Focus on the season is +13.3 based on his effective play, even if it lacks Cutler's gunslinging flash.
Run defense - Running back Ray Rice gashed the Bears' defense for 131 yards on 25 carries. The Bears have struggled in this area all season after losing essentially their entire interior defensive front to injuries, and the trend continues.
Next week: At the St. Louis Rams (4-6)
Green Bay Packers
Last week: 27-13 loss at the New York Giants
Quarterback Scott Tolzien's first career start did not go as planned. Tolzien was actually very efficient on the day, going 24 for 34 for 339 yards, but unfortunately for him, three of his 10 misses were interceptions. The Packers' defense kept this game close in the first half, with the Giants taking a 10-6 lead into the break. However, the offense provided no assistance and did not find the end zone until the fourth quarter.
Even with their lackluster performance, the Packers had a decent chance for a comeback late in the game. After finally finding the end zone with roughly 12 minutes left in the game, the Packers were down only 20-13. However, they responded with 2 interceptions (one for a touchdown) and a three-and-out. Never did the Packers' faithful miss Aaron Rodgers more.
Clay Matthews - Matthews had one of his better performances of the season in his second game back from injury. He contributed a sack, 5 hurries and a pass defense on Sunday.
Tramon Williams - Williams was effective in coverage, making up for a pass interference call with an interception, and he had 8 tackles from his cornerback position.
Running game - After being a surprising highlight for the Packers all season, the running game ground to a halt on Sunday. Running back Eddie Lacy gained only 27 yards on 14 carries and the Packers' best run of the day was a 12-yard rumble by John Kuhn.
Scott Tolzien - Not a terrible game overall, but 3 turnovers (two in the fourth quarter) deserves the "lowlights" treatment.
Next week: At home against the Minnesota Vikings (2-8)
Last week: 41-20 loss at the Seattle Seahawks
The return of the prodigal-explosive-injury prone-unreliable son proved to be too much for the Vikings on Sunday. Receiver Percy Harvin's debut as a Seahawk was somewhat anticlimactic, but Harvin did provide several key plays. His only catch on the day was a 17-yard third down conversion in the second quarter that set up Marshawn Lynch's first touchdown.
His other big play occurred with 48 seconds left in the first half. The Vikings had just converted a field goal, and Harvin took the ensuing kickoff 58 yards to start the Seahawks' drive at the Vikings 48-yard line. Four plays later, quarterback Russell Wilson found receiver Doug Baldwin in the end zone to put the Seahawks on top for good. This game was effectively over at halftime.
Offensive production - The Seahawks are a great defensive team, but the Vikings moved the ball well on Sunday. They outgained the Seahawks 336 yards to 323 and held the ball for nearly 10 minutes longer. All of this was negated by 4 turnovers, but at least there were some positive things on offense.
Quarterbacks - April cannot come soon enough. After 3 turnovers, the Vikings benched Christian Ponder in favor of Matt Cassel, who promptly threw an interception of his own. The saga continues.
Next week: At the Green Bay Packers (5-5)