Grading the Bears: Game 11
Game ball: Benny Cunningham
You know it's a bad sign when a rookie backup running back gets the game ball, but in this case it's well deserved. When starter Zac Stacy was sidelined after running through the Bears for 87 yards early on, all Cunningham did was rush for 109 yards, most of those coming in the second half. His 9-yard TD run late in the game proved the dagger.
Quarterback: 4 balls
It's been said before and it should be said again: the Bears are so lucky to have Josh McCown. The savvy veteran not only provided a needed calmness after things had gotten ugly early, he then went out kept the Bears in the game -- going 36 for 47 for 352 yards, 2 TD passes and a 102.4 QB rating.
Running backs: 2.5 balls
Matt Forte's early fumble was a killer, but he did battle back well and put on a show in the middle quarters before fading late. As for Michael Bush? Was there anything more frustrating than watching this guy continuously come up short in short-yard situations? The answer is no.
Receivers: 4 balls
There was the return of Earl Bennett (career-high 8 receptions) and the continued clutchness of Martellus Bennett, but the star of he group -- yet again -- was Brandon Marshall. Where would this team be without him? Bmarsh finished with 10 catches for 117 yards and a TD.
Offensive line: 2 balls
Kyle Long may have provided the nasty, but the unit as a whole had one of its worst performances -- especially in pass protection. Josh McCown was pressured early and often and sent to the turf way too many times in this one.
Defensive line: 1 ball
David Bass provided an early sack and Julius Peppers was noticeable once or twice. That's about it. As for the return of Shea McClellin? He was the D-line's version of Michael Bush (see above).
Linebackers: 1 ball
Is it me, or does Jonathan Bostic look lost out there? If the defensive line can't stop the run, and they can't, then the linebacking crew needs to be there to help out. They didn't. The Rams rushed for over 260 yards.
Secondary: 1.5 balls
Maybe you can blame it on the scheme, but every time the Bears needed a stop on third and long, Kellen Clemens Kellen Clemens! -- was always able to find an open man. How is that possible?
Special teams: 1.5 balls
The coverage units were fine and Devin Hester had a punt return for a TD negated by penalty, but man, the kick returns this year -- and especially Sunday -- were hideous. But hey, it was nice to see Robbie Gould getting yappy on the sidelines. Coaching: .5 balls
Where do you start here? The Bears, for the second week in a row, did not seem prepared at the start and paid the price. Add on a gazillion penalties, some questionable play calls (always take the points on the road!) a porous defense, and some weak special team play and you have the perfect recipe for disaster. It left a bitter taste, indeed.
-- Mike Spellman