Postgame Thoughts: Bears vs. Ravens (12.20.09)
December 20th, 2009 - 6:57 pm
Six to one. No, that wasn’t the final score of the Bears-Ravens game. That was the turnover ratio, heavily favoring the victorious Ravens. When you turn over the ball that many times, you can’t expect to win, and the Bears didn’t. With their 31-7 blowout loss, the Bears have lost by at least 20 points for the fourth time this year.
I’ll just let that sink in for a minute.
Things looked bleak from the very beginning — what else is new, though — as Jay Cutler was intercepted on the first drive of the game. The Ravens then took the ball 52 yards on just five plays in 1:35 when they took a quick 7-0 lead after Joe Flacco threw the first of his career-high four touchdown passes.
On the ensuing kickoff, Danieal Manning had a great return and then the offense actually put together a great drive. They drove the ball 47 yards on 10 plays before Cutler threw his second interception, this one into the hands of outside linebacker Jarret Johnson, who was standing just a few yards away.
What did Baltimore do for an encore? They drove 86 yards on just six plays for the second of Joe Flacco’s career-high four touchdown passes.
Two possessions for the Ravens resulted in two touchdowns. Two for the Bears ended with interceptions.
Yes, this game had an eerie feeling to it, much of the same feeling that the Bengals and Cardinals games gave me when both those teams hung 31 points on the Bears in the first half, respectively. The Ravens also put up 31 points, albeit during the course of the whole game.
On the Bears’ third possession, the offense drove 73 yards on 19 plays but failed to get points when they went for it on fourth down from the Ravens’ one-yard line. Of course, to aggravate me and make matters worse, Ron Turner decided to call that dreadfully awful fade pass to Greg Olsen into the end zone.
I’m not one of those Turner haters. In fact, I think he’s not that much better or worse than any other offensive coordinator in the league. But that fade play to Olsen is one of two that I can’t stand watching — the fullback dive, which the Bears have seemingly abandoned this year, is the other. Ron, the last time I remember that Olsen fade working was in Olsen’s rookie year of 2007 when he caught it for a touchdown against the Packers. That fade pattern was from 19 yards away, not inside the five. If that play hasn’t worked the last 423 times you’ve called it, what makes you think it’ll work on the 424th time?
Aside from Cutler, the offense played well in the first half. That’s not entirely fair to the beleaguered quarterback. He did make a few clutch throws in helping move the chains and also scrambled for two first downs. But he did cost the Bears at least six points with his two first half interceptions. But the offense as a whole did what they needed to do aside from protecting the football and putting points on the board. They moved the chains and took time off the clock, and it’s a shame they couldn’t capitalize off that.
If it weren’t for an Earl Bennett punt return touchdown, the Bears would have been shut out. It’s sadly ironic that he was named the “Most Valuable Bear” by Jeff Joniak and Tom Thayer on the Bears Radio Network after the game.
The second half is when the game got out of hand. The Bears continued to turn the ball over with two more interceptions, one by Cutler and one by backup Caleb Hanie, a fumble by Matt Forte, and a fumbled kickoff return by Johnny Knox. The Ravens capitalized off those turnovers as Flacco threw the third and fourth of his career-high four touchdowns.
There’s a reason why I’ve mentioned Flacco’s four touchdowns and it’s for dramatic effect. I’m sick and tired of hearing broadcasters announcing team records, season highs, and, in the case of Flacco, career highs achieved by opposing teams and players against the Bears’ defense. It’s embarrassing, it’s discouraging, and it’s unacceptable. It has to change next year.
As I mentioned to open this post, the Bears have now lost four games by at least 20 points. After the first two, it ceased being a surprise and became expected. That’s not a good sign.
Two games remain in this dreadful season. The Bears have a legitimate shot at beating the Lions in the season finale, but will have to play one of their best games just to do it. But before that game comes, they’ll get to show the nation just how far below the Vikings in the NFC North they are when they take on Minnesota on Monday Night Football. If that game is anything like the one earlier this season, a 26-point Vikings blowout victory, the heat on the organization will grow only hotter.