Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith always preaches to his defense about getting takeaways, and the Bears went to the turnover well five times in snatching five picks from Tony Romo. Major Wright grabbed two while Lance Briggs and Charles Tillman each took turns taking an interception back for a touchdown as the Bears rolled up an impressive performance on Monday night.
In typical bend but don't break fashion the Bears' defense allowed Romo to throw for 307 yards on 31 of 43 passes for one touchdown. However the five interceptions were EASILY the difference in this game as miscommunication between Romo and his receivers or just plain errant throws led to a big Bears victory.
The Bears weren't able to generate the same level of consistent pressure on Romo that we've become accustomed to through the first three games. As a result Romo connected with TE Jason Whitten for 13 receptions for 112 yards. That stat line is a prime example of taking what the defense gives you, and the Bears gave up a lot underneath.
Dez Bryant played an equal part in this victory for the Bears, dropping key passes including a sure touchdown and missing an obvious site adjustment that led to Tillman's pick six.
Bryant is slowly becoming the Jay Cutler of wide receivers, a player who has major maturity issues, who has a lot of talent, but doesn't do enough to help his team win games consistently.
On the other hand, no real knock on Cutler is necessary tonight, as he played his best game of the season hitting a solid 18 out of 24 for 275 yards and two touchdowns against no interceptions.
As much praise as Cutler deserves, offensive coordinator Mike Tice deserves equal credit for his game plan. Tice moved Brandon Marshall all over the field to put him in favorable match up situations. This allowed Marshall to catch underneath passes and then take those passes for big yards after the catch.
Marshall grabbed seven passes for for 138 yards, including a 31-yard catch and run touchdown from Cutler. All three offensive aspects worked on this well designed play as Marshall motioned into the slot then ran a simple crossing route as Kellen Davis ran off the defenders with a nine route down the seam. Marshall then ran untouched into the end-zone for the touchdown his second big catch and run of the night.
In earlier games Mike Tice consistently tried to go deep, instead of giving what the defense gave him. The result was a frustrated Cutler and a stalled out Bears offense that was going no where fast. Tonight however Cutler was an equal opportunity assassin getting Kellen Davis involved for a modest three catches for 62 yards and hitting Devin Hester on a deep bomb for a 34-yard touchdown.
All this of course was set up by the consistent threat and effort of the Bears running game. Matt Forte finished with a modest 52 yards on 13 carries good for a sturdy 4.0 YPC. While Michael Bush ground out a meager 29 yards on 10 carries. It was however, the effort and focus of the running game that allowed the payoff in the passing game.
Most if not all of the momentum in this game came from the opportunistic defense and their two forced fumbles (none of which were recovered) and five interceptions.
Major Wright continues to impress grabbing a deflected pass for an easy interception and getting over in coverage to pick Romo off on a well read break on the ball. Wright probably put together his best game as a Chicago Bears player and seems to be getting better on a week to week basis.
If year three is considered critical for a player's development Wright's light bulb has gone on and he could stay on as a starter.
Major props should go to four of the five offensive linemen in this game, especially J'Marcus Webb who more than held his own against the best pass rusher in the NFL DeMarcus Ware. Webb received occasional help, but a vast majority of the time did it on his own in pass protection. He kept Cutler up right and the lone sack Ware did notch came from Cutler holding onto the football for nearly five seconds.
Lance Louis continues to grade out as the best offensive lineman on the team currently, while Chilo Rachal was a force in the run game and has now brought stability to the LG spot. Gabe Carimi obviously benefited from Anthony Spencer not being in the game, but played a very strong and well rounded game as well.
Roberto Garza on the other hand was awful and is looking like a player that might retire at the end of this season. Garza was pushed around, bullied and blown up at the point of attack. His performance was otherwise forgettable on a night where the offensive line put forth it's best effort in quite a while.