The New England Patriots routed the Chicago Bears today in a home game at Gillette Stadium, with a final score of 51 to 23. The outing marked Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady’s best effort of the season, with five touchdowns, 354 yards passing and a QB rating of 148.4, completing 30 of 35 passes. New England fans breathed a collective sigh of relief at Brady’s nearly flawless performance as it washed away the anxiety of last week’s game against the New York Jets, where despite getting the win, Brady had struggled.
The game played out even more lopsided than the score would suggest. Until the last-minute of the third quarter, the Patriots had been leading the Bears 45-7 after a 38 point first half. New England Head Coach Bill Belichick pulled Brady late in the game with things well in hand, affording backup QB Jimmy Garoppolo the chance to shake some dust off.
The biggest positive to take from the game was how the Patriots played in the absence of several starters in key positions. With starting half back Stevan Ridley out for the season, the Patriots were still able to sell the run enough to open up their play action. Rob Gronkowski took advantage, tying a career-best three touchdowns on nine catches for a total of 149 yards and effectively slamming the door on paranoid speculation as to whether “the old Gronk” was gone for good.
On the defense side of the ball, the Patriots managed to do a respectable job of containing the Bears, especially in the first three-quarters of the rout. Brandon Browner’s day may have been the worst on the team, as he was flagged twice in plays that while not pivotal, could have been on a different day. One call against him overturned a Devin McCourty interception, and a pass interference against Martellus Bennett was enough for a flag, but not enough to break up the play.
For the Bears, on the other hand, today’s game was a bleak omen for their playoff aspirations. Two games below .500 at the midpoint of the season, and third in their division, it was widely considered by analysts to be a must-win for Chicago. Adding injury to insult was what appeared to be a kick in the pants at the hands of karma, as defensive end Lamarr Houston injured his knee in celebration of sacking the New England backup. Houston is scheduled to have an MRI in the morning, adding a straw to the back of the Chicago camel.
In the end, as the stands cleared out in Foxborough, Mass., the happenings of today have highlighted, underscored and italicized the legacy of the Kraft era. It seems that regardless of the moments of doubt and trepidation, as long as Tom Brady has the ball and Bill Belichick is calling the games, the Pats will be the preeminent football force in the northeast. All in all, these New England Patriots are cementing a star on the sidewalk of football heaven, toward which end todays rout of the Chicago bears was another drop in the bucket.
Commentary by B. J. Whittemore