Founded in 2010

News & Entertainment for Mason City, Clear Lake & the Entire North Iowa Region

Monday night stiff test for Bears and Cowboys

By Brad Biggs, Chicago Tribune –

The Bears and Cowboys can look in the mirror as they prepare for Monday’s meeting and learn an awful lot about each other.

Their defenses are playing at a high level and guarding against the pass particularly well. The offensive lines are struggling to protect the quarterbacks and consequently skill position players are not having a major impact. The quarterbacks, both facing expectations to lead their respective teams deep into the postseason, have been up and down.

Both enter 2-1 and one will finish the first quarter of the season feeling pretty confident and — at the minimum — tied for first place in their division. The other will realize there is work to do to be among the elite in the NFC.

“(Both) have the potential to be great,” Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall said. “It’s a big game for the outcome of our season.

For the Bears to achieve their goals, they’re going to have to perform under the bright lights of prime time, the big stage that feeds the $9 billion revenue the league generates annually like nothing else. This is the second night game for them after the disastrous Week 2 appearance in Green Bay and they will play four of their next seven games in prime time. After facing the Cowboys, they have the Lions at home Oct. 22 and the Texans at Soldier Field on Nov. 11 before they visit the 49ers on Nov. 19.

Jay Cutler is 4-1 as a Bears starter on Monday nights and 6-3 in his last nine prime-time games. But road night games have not been kind. Cutler is 3-6 in them with the Bears and 5-10 overall when including his numbers in 21/2 seasons as a starter for the Broncos. Cutler said he likes playing the only game on Mondays.

“It’s fun,” he said. “You get an extra day to prepare. You’re the only game on TV. I think the guys get up for the games a little bit faster.”

Some players like playing night games on the road because when they are holed up in a hotel throughout the day they don’t deal with distractions that can be present at home.

Some of Cutler’s worst moments with the Bears have been in prime-time games. He threw five interceptions in San Francisco and the Packers twice intercepted him four times in night games at Lambeau Field.

The Bears set an NFL record by allowing nine sacks in the first half of a Sunday night game visiting the Giants in 2010, knocking Cutler out of the following week’s game with a concussion.

Of course, protection issues aren’t his doing and offensive coordinator Mike Tice is mindful of that. The Bears were ultra-conservative last week with a game plan heavy on max protection. They likely will have to do the same against Cowboys outside linebackers DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer.

“It’s so, so difficult to win on the road,” Tice said. “We have to be poised and we have to handle the crowd noise and all of the above. We have a checklist of things we have to do better.”

After Cutler lost his first four prime-time games with the Bears in 2009 there were questions about if it was more challenging for him to play at night with diabetes, a theory that was dismissed quickly.

What is real is the NFL attempts to create marquee matchups in prime time. There is a reason the Lions went a decade between appearances on “Monday Night Football.” The league wants to drive television ratings with matchups between winning teams. Cutler is 6-7 overall at night with the Bears and the composite record of those 13 opponents entering the night game is 43-35. In his nine road night games as a Bear, opponents entered with a composite 24-24 record. There haven’t been many duds he has faced at night.

Turnovers have been his major undoing. Cutler has thrown 18 interceptions and only 10 touchdowns in road night games with the Bears. That is a major factor in his passer rating being 63.1 in those games. Overall in 13 night games with the Bears, Cutler has a 72.0 rating with 18 touchdowns and 21 interceptions, proof that he’s much more careful with the ball at Soldier Field.

He won visiting the Cowboys in 2010 in a daytime Week 2 meeting, passing for 277 yards and three touchdowns. That victory propelled the Bears early in a season in which they reached the NFC championship game. A victory this time would ensure the team is on the right path.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Even more news:

Copyright 2024 – Internet Marketing Pros. of Iowa, Inc.
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x