Bad, wintery conditions? A 9-3 Chicago Bears team with a Top 5 defense? No problem, or at least the New England Patriots made it seem that way today with a 36-7 drubbing of the Bears that was over at halftime. The Pats lead 33-0 at the half, and the offense moved the ball as if there weren’t any wind gusts or a flake of snow falling. How good was Tom Brady in the wind and snow? Well, he only threw for his highest single-game yardage total this year. His final stats for the game are 27/40 for 369 yards, 2 touchdowns and, still, no interceptions. He came close a few times to losing the no-INT streak he is on but the Bears couldn’t hold onto the ball. Aside frmo the impressive offensive performance, the defense turned in a second consecutive solid performance.
The defense only let up 7 points, and that was after a big return by Devin Hester that put the Bears’ offense in good field position. They were smothering all day and forced four turnovers. LB Gary Guyton and S Brandon Meriweather both intercepted Jay Cutler while CB Devin McCourty and LB Eric Moore each forced a fumble. The McCourty-forced fumble was picked up and returned for a touchdown by Guyton in the second quarter. McCourty would leave that quarter with a rib injury and did not return to the game. That injury will be something to monitor throughout the week with pass-happy Green Bay coming to town. The good news is that the pass defense didn’t show much signs of weakness when McCourty left, as Kyle Arrington especially stepped up and played a solid game.
Special teams coverage looked a little weak against the Bears’ returners, giving up 213 total yards. Aside from that, and the McCourty injury, there’s not much negative to take away from the game. The running game was steady as well, with the team gaining 124 yards on 35 carries, and that’s including Brian Hoyer’s three kneel-downs. BenJarvus Green-Ellis amassed 87 yards on 21 carries (4.1 ypc) while Danny Woodhead ran 7 times for 21 yards and a touchdown. Deion Branch caught 8 passes for 151 yards, including a 59-yard touchdown at the end of the first half, while Wes Welker also caught 8 passes for 115 yards. S Pat Chung led the team with 6 total tackles while recently-signed LB Eric Moore, who was signed from the UFL’s Florida Tuskers, was a surprise impact player, totaling 4 tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble.
With the win over the Bears, the Patriots became the first team this year to clinch a playoff birth. They also moved a step closer to clinching the AFC East due to the Jets losing to the Miami Dolphins. The Pats now have a two-game lead over the New York Jets. Tom Brady’s streak of passes without an INT continues, now going eight straight games without throwing a pick. Bill Belichick tied Mike Holmgren for 10th all-time with 174 career wins.