3-and-out: Bears vs. Browns

Published: Monday, Dec. 16, 2013 5:30 a.m.CDT
(Tony Dejak)
Chicago Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall (15) pushes Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden (23) away after a catch in the second quarter of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)


1. “There was a lot of noise around our team this week. They came together, they really focused hard on a short week coming off an exceptional game on Monday Night Football.” – Marc Trestman

2. “We were in a blitz and I kept my side. He looked my way and I broke and made the play.” – Zack Bowman on his interception for a touchdown

3. “That was my one shot of trying to keep up with [Alshon Jeffery].” – Brandon Marshall, on his catch over Joe Haden

3 things that worked

1. Controlling time of possession — Stiff third-down defense and success on the ground from Matt Forte allowed the Bears to hold the ball for 9:36 longer than the Browns.

2. Third-down offense — For the second week in a row, the Bears were very efficient on third down, converting 9-of-14 opportunities. All five of Jeffery’s catches came on third down, with three going for firsts, including the 45-yard touchdown.

3. Containing WR Josh Gordon — He did burn the Bears for a 43-yard touchdown late in the fourth quarter, when Chris Conte took a poor angle, but the league’s best receiver over the past month was a nonfactor. Before that touchdown, Gordon had two catches for 24 yards on nine targets.

3 that didn’t

1. Discipline — After a season-low two penalties last week, the Bears had some focus issues Sunday, committing six penalties before halftime. Most notably, Corey Wootton’s holding penalty cost the Bears three points in the second quarter.

2. Ball security — Jay Cutler threw two interceptions, including one that was returned for a touchdown, and Martellus Bennett lost a fumble for the first time in his NFL career.

3. Red-zone offense — With the weapons the Bears have, getting touchdowns on more red-zone trips shouldn’t be too much to ask. They were 2-for-4 in the red zone, and also left points on the field when back-to-back penalties knocked them out of field goal range.

3 moments that mattered

1. Sure, the interception for a touchdown resonates, but Cutler’s interception on the first drive brought that “here we go again” vibe. He was 3-for-3 passing before trying to force one to Marshall in the end zone. The Browns picked off the deflected pass. It was Cutler’s third interception in the end zone this season and a reminder of what you get with Cutler that you don’t get with Josh McCown — someone who takes those chances, and sometimes fails.

2. A Browns penalty allowed the Bears to pin the Browns on a kickoff when the game was tied at 24, and Cleveland had to start at its own 14-yard line. After a delay-of-game penalty, Jeremiah Ratliff faced Chris Ogbonnaya on a cutback in the open field that we’ve often seen go to daylight against this defense. Instead, Ratliff wrapped up for a tackle for loss, setting up a second-and-18. The Browns punted two plays later, and the Bears took the lead on the ensuing drive.

3. Before Michael Bush put the game away with his 40-yard touchdown run, Forte likely would have sealed it when he took a toss off left tackle and ran for 24 yards on third-and-8, when the Browns still had one timeout left and trailed by seven.

What now?

Record: 8-6

What it means: For the time being, the Bears are alone in first place in the NFC North, with the Lions hosting the Ravens on Monday night.

What’s next? The Bears travel to Philadelphia for their fifth primetime game of the season against LeSean McCoy and the Eagles on Sunday night. The Bears are 4-0 in night games this season.

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