The Patriots outlasted the Chicago Bears (3-3) in a back-and-forth game at Soldier Field, with a 38-31 victory that improved them to 5-2 on the season. Playing without key contributors on offense and an inconsistent defense, the Pats relied on special teams to pull out their first road victory of the year.
Here are some takeaways from today’s game.
1. The offense was brilliant once again without key playmakers
The Pats took on the Bears without Rob Gronkowski, who didn’t make the trip to Chicago due to back and ankle injuries. They started the game hot, as they dissected the vaunted Bears defense en route to a Julian Edelman touchdown on their opening drive. However, things went downhill from there, as their third drive resulted in Sony Michel suffering a knee injury (which did not look good) and a fumble that helped Chicago take a 17-7 lead. The Patriots displayed their mental fortitude as they were able to bounce back and regain the lead in the second quarter. Tom Brady was his usual self, as he threw for over 270 yards and 3 touchdowns, along with an interception. James White and Kenjon Barner served as a serviceable running back duo, as they helped spread the field for the Patriots. Without Gronk in the lineup, the Pats relied on their trio of receivers in Julian Edelman (5 catches for 36 yards and 1 touchdown), Josh Gordon (4 catches for 100 yards), and Chris Hogan (6 catches for 63 yards). The offensive line performed well against the talented Chicago pass rush, as Brady was only sacked 1 time, and was not touched much throughout the game.
Sony Michel’s injury is concerning for the rest of the season, as he had proved himself to be a valuable contributor, and the combination of Michel and White was extremely potent for Josh McDaniels’ offense. There hasn’t been any word on the severity of his injury, but let’s hope that he isn’t out for an extended period of time. I also believe that the Patriots shouldn’t rush Rob Gronkowski back into the lineup, as I think that it’s important to allow him to recover and stay healthy as the season progresses.
2. The defense had another up-and-down performance
Following their dreadful performance against the Chiefs, it was interesting to see how the Pats’ defense would rebound against Mitch Trubisky and the Bears offense, and the best word to describe their performance is inconsistent. Early on in the game, they were able to shut down Chicago’s passing game, but they could not contain Trubisky outside of the pocket, as he frequently scampered for first downs off of big gains. Trubisky had a 8-yard touchdown run, and also had a 39-yard run during which he maneuvered around hapless Patriots’ defenders. Despite their inability to stop Trubisky from running the ball, the Pats were able to make life hard for his receivers, as only Trey Burton (9 receptions for 126 yards and 1 touchdown) and Tarik Cohen (8 catches for 69 yards and 1 touchdown) had great performances. Another area of concern for the Pats was their number of penalties (4 penalties for 29 yards), which helped to extend drives for Chicago.
The Pats were able to make up for their early miscues, as they forced Trubisky into 2 second half interceptions and most of Chicago’s fourth quarter yardage came in garbage time. Today’s game ended in thrilling fashion, as the Bears’ Hail Mary attempt resulted in Kevin White being tackled at the one-yard line, due to a wall of defenders led by Duron Harmon.
3. Special Teams came up big!
The Patriots’ special teams did not start very well today, as Cordarrelle Patterson fumbled a kickoff which gave the Bears fantastic field position and led to them snatching the lead. Patterson was able to recover from his miscue, as he returned a second quarter kickoff for a 95-yard touchdown, as he outmaneuvered the Bears’ kickoff unit and helped the Patriots trim their deficit to 17-14. In the third quarter, Dont’a Hightower blocked a punt, which led to a touchdown by Kyle Van Noy which gave the Patriots a lead that they would never relinquish. Interestingly enough, this was the first game in Patriots’ history that featured the men in blue score on a blocked punt and a kickoff. It’s always heartening to see special teams step up when the team requires a spark in order to emerge victorious.
- Passing: Tom Brady – 25/36 for 277 yards, 3 touchdowns and 1 interception
- Rushing: James White – 11 carries for 40 yards
- Receiving: Josh Gordon – 4 catches for 100 yards
- Defensive: Patrick Chung – 6 tackles
- Passing: Mitch Trubisky – 26/50 for 333 yards, 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions
- Rushing: Mitch Trubisky – 6 carries for 81 yards, and 1 touchdown
- Receiving: Trey Burton – 9 catches for 126 yards, and 1 touchdown
- Defensive: Danny Trevathan – 10 tackles
What’s next?: The Pats head to Buffalo to take on their rival, the Buffalo Bills (2-5) on Monday Night Football.