Two teams that were on the wrong side of .500 met up in a Monday Night match-up during week nine. It was unclear just who was going to fight more for the win, as the Chicago Bears currently have the dubious distinction of being the only team that have lost to the Detroit Lions. Meanwhile, the San Diego Chargers have seen Philip Rivers pass for a lot of yards this year, but they simply haven't converted into wins for the AFC West power blue boys.
One thing for certain though, is that the Bears got off to an incredibly poor start. They drove down the field where Robbie Gould would set up for a 47 yard field goal. But the typically reliable Gould would miss, and this is in the beautiful weather of San Diego. He would miss a 34 yard attempt in the second half as well, and if he keeps this up he could end up being demoted to being a free agent while the Bears bring someone else in for their leg.
Rivers and the Chargers only faced one third down on their opening drive. That would be a third and five where Rivers found Stevie Johnson for a 16 yard gain to get the Chargers into the red zone. Two plays later, River would find Danny Woodhead for an easy 14 yard touchdown catch and Josh Lambo would hit the extra point and the Chargers would be up 7-0 early in the game.
The Bears would drive down the field again on their next drive, but instead of giving Gould a shot on this drive, Melvin Ingram ended the drive when he strip sacked Jay Cutler on third and eight and safety Eric Weddle would jump on the ball and the Chargers would stop the scoring opportunity. The Bears would cough the ball up again later in the half, but instead of giving it up on the ground, Cutler would throw an interception, his only one of the evening, as Jason Verrett would catch the pass and take it back the remaining 68 yards for a touchdown. Lambo would miss this extra point and the Chargers had an early 13-0 lead.
The Bears finally got everything together on their next possession, perhaps because the Chargers defense was tired from running down the field for Verrett's interception. But the Bears drove 80 yards in just seven plays, culminating when Martellus Bennett would score on a short one yard touchdown reception. Gould would hit the extra point and the Bears were only down six with just over six minutes left in the second half. The touchdown to Bennett would signify Cutler's 138th touchdown as a member of the Chicago Bears, putting him in first place in the Franchise's elaborate record books, just ahead of Sid Luckman as this was number 138 for him in Chicago.
After a few punts the Chargers offense went into the two minute drill mode and Lambo would be fortunate to kick a 31 yard field goal before the clock expired in the first half. The Chargers took a 16-7 lead into the locker room and had to be pleased with how their team was playing in all facets of the game.
The third quarter would remain scoreless, as this is when Gould's 34 yarder hit off an upright and miss. But the Chargers would only get two first downs in the quarter, as their best drive stalled out just past midfield at the Chicago 49 yard line.
But the Bears would take over at their own 7 yard line and Cutler methodically drove them down the field on a 15 play, 93 yard drive that resulted in a Jeremy Langford rushing touchdown. Drives like this can break the backs of the opposition, and taking the clock from 7:18 left in the third quarter when they started with the ball to 14:02 when Langford finally reached the end zone, simply eats up the other teams' offensive opportunities.
On the next Chargers drive, they went right up into the end zone, and it appeared that Antonio Gates had converted a third and goal from the eight yard line into a touchdown. But not so fast, D.J. Fluker had gone downfield and was flagged on the play for ineligible man downfield. They would end up stopped at the four yard line and they would take the field goal to extend the lead to 19-14 instead of just being up two. The missed extra point really hurt here as they could have at least considered going for it knowing a field goal would merely tie the game instead of win it for the Bears.
Jay Cutler would again move the Bears down the field, and doing a better job at avoiding turnovers, they were able to move rather easily. Cutler found Alshon Jeffrey on a key third down reception to keep the drive alive. That brought the ball to the 25 yard line, where Cutler would find Zach Miller for the game winning touchdown and put the Bears up 20-19, and Langford would convert the two point conversion on the ground despite the review.
The Chargers would get two first downs on their potential game winning or game tying drive. But after that, Lamarr Houston would get a sack on first down to make it second and 18. Then he would have a silly offside penalty to give five of those yards back. But then he sacked Rivers again on second and thirteen for a loss of ten to make it very difficult. Rivers' next two passes fell incomplete and it was a turnover on downs and the Bears would simply have Cutler take three kneel downs in the victory formation to close the game out.
Passing: Jay Cutler (27/40, 345 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT)
Rushing: Jeremy Langford (18 carries, 72 yards, 1 TD)
Receiving: Alshon Jeffrey (10 catches, 151 yards)
The Chicago Bears (3-5) will travel down Interstate 55 next week as they will face the St. Louis Rams (4-4) in a battle for teams trying to stay alive in the wild card race for the NFC. The San Diego Chargers (2-7) will welcome the bye week that awaits them with open arms before they expect to host the Kansas City Chiefs (3-5) in just 13 days.