Four Downs with DJK: Patriots at Bears
Week 7 for the Patriots brought them to Soldier Field in the windy city of Chicago, IL to face an opponent (excluding primetime games) they only face once every four years, and seeing they last played in Foxborough, it's been eight years since the Pats have come to town.
The last time the Pats visited Chicago, they absolutely beat the breaks off the Jay Cutler led Bears who actually went onto the NFC Championship game that season. Unfortunately, that was not the case today, but once more despite the fact that for the second straight week it came down to the final play, the Patriots came away with the win 38-31 and improve to 5-2.
The Patriots led most of the second half but Chicago managed to always keep the game somewhat close allowing them to at the least have a desperation shot at the end of the game, but nothing ever comes of those right? Wrong. The Bears were down seven but got the ball back with under a minute left after the Patriots failed to pick up a first down and run out the clock. Bears QB Mitchell Trubisky got all the way to the Bears 45 yard line where he felt confident he could throw a hail mary. If it weren't for Patriots LB Kyle Van Noy, he may have. Van Noy put a lot of pressure on Trubisky on the play perhaps not allowing him to get enough power into the throw, and it won the Pats the game, as Kevin White caught the ball at the ONE YARD LINE, but could not get into the endzone. Wow.
Despite an early fumble from kick returner Cordarrelle Patterson and a few shaky extra points from Stephen Gostkowski, the team ended the day with two special teams touchdowns, both coming at the most critical of moments. First, to redeem himself, Patterson returned a kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown, right after the Bears seemingly had all the momentum in the world with a 17-7 lead, after two Patriot turnovers. Then, with the game tied in the third quarter, Dont'a Hightower blocked the Bears punt and Kyle Van Noy returned it (after bobbling it numeorus times) 29 yards for a touchdown. As Head Coach Bill Belichick says, it takes playing well in all three phases to win a football game, and boy did the Pats need that third phase today.
The Patriots lost in a lot of statistical categories they normally don't today. They lost the turnover battle 3-2, lost the time of possession battle (although only by one minute), and they committed 7 penalties for 64 yards, which is shocking seeing they normally average 4.3 penalties per game and are one of, if not the most disciplined team in the NFL. Is this due to a lack of talent, lack of discipline, lack of awareness or all three? The officials did seem to throw a few "soft" ot "ticky tack" flags today and seemed to be picking on rookie undrafted Corner Back J.C. Jackon, so I believe that was the main contribution because without those, they are right at their average.
Despite the early and evident yearly "the dynasty is done" talk after a 1-2 start, as usual the Patriots have rolled off four impressive wins in a row and they should have no problem continuing it when they travel to Buffalo to face the Bills who got blown out by the previously 1-5 Colts today. Their real next test will come against the Packers in 2 weeks in Foxborough, vs the most overrated QB, and perhaps player in any sport ever, Aaron Rodgers. At the start of the season due to the amount of talent the Patriots let go, I expected them to take a step back and finish 11-5, and could easily still see them finishing around this mark, if not a few wins higher.