Hub Arkush: Bears graded better than outcome
The ultimate shame of the Bears' devastating 33-28 loss to the Packers at Soldier Field is that when you break down the tape there are actually more guys who played well than those who didn’t, and there were some guys who played very well.
Jay Cutler was one of the latter. He wasn’t Joe Namath or Peyton Manning, but in the kind of situation where Cutler has often failed, he was extremely efficient and bounced back from a slow start to make some big plays and do almost enough to win.
Cutler was under control the whole game and made a great play to get the ball to Brandon Marshall on the Bears' final touchdown.
I’m giving him a B+. He can’t get the A because the Bears lost. Although Aaron Rodgers actually wasn’t as good as Cutler for 60 minutes, he did find a way to make the plays the Packers had to have to steal the win late, and that’s what separates the great QBs from the good ones.
Matt Forte did do enough for an A for his last game of the season. The Pro Bowl running back did everything he could to bring home the must-win, including 157 yards of offense from scrimmage and three touchdowns.
Forte was born to play running back in Marc Trestman’s office, and if he stays healthy there are more Pro Bowls in his future.
Bears receivers did not have their best games of the year. They get a C+ as a group. Alshon Jeffery did have the huge 67- yard catch to set up Forte’s third touchdown, and Marshall made the great play on the final score.
But Jeffery lost a fumble, had a terribly costly drop on third-and-long in the fourth quarter that might have sewn up the game if he’d held it and caught only three of the eight throws on which he was targeted.
Marshall also had a costly drop on the Bears' final possession, and Martellus Bennett managed just one catch for 15 yards.
The offensive line earned a solid B. Nothing spectacular, no demerit points, exactly what you want from your line. They did a nice job of not skipping a beat when Jordan Mills got hurt and Eben Britton came on.
The weirdest part of this game was that for most of it, it felt like the defense was a bit better, but in the end it wasn’t.
The Packers' offense had a 10:18 advantage in time of possession and outgained the Bears 473-345 yards.
That’s why the Bears lost the game.
Give the defensive line a C. Julius Peppers and Jeremiah Ratliff were disruptive at times, and Peppers did have what should have been a huge sack. But most of the pressure on Rodgers was from blitzes, and Green Bay still rushed for 160 yards and a 4.7-yard average.
I thought James Anderson played very well – other than leaving the Rodgers fumble on the ground in front of him – and Lance Briggs was better than he was in Philadelphia. But all that Packer production ... give the linebackers a B-.
The secondary failed Sunday, and they have to get an F. The biggest problem was the Packers' final score and the blown coverage on which they still don’t seem to be sure what happened. Still, it was more than that.
Tim Jennings made a few plays, but Jordy Nelson had 10 catches for 161 yards, and they had no answer for him all day.
The special teams weren’t great, but if this was Devin Hester’s last game as a Bear, he goes out with an A from me. His 49-yard punt return and 39-yard kickoff return should have yielded a lot more than they did.
Unfortunately, the last straw in this game was two mental mistakes: a fumble left on the ground and a wideout uncovered in crunch time. We don’t need a poor grade to know how costly those errors were.
• Hub Arkush covers the Bears for Shaw Media and HubArkush.com. Write to him firstname.lastname@example.org.