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Broncos 3rd & Long: Beating the Bears and the Refs

The Broncos defense had to best both the Bears offense and the officials who seemed to have a vested interest in keeping the Bears in the game.

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Since I am travelling for the holidays I did not get a chance to watch the game, so I am going by the stats and the few video clips of the plays that I have been able to watch at this point. That being said there were 118 yards in penalties against the Denver Broncos and zero yards in accepted penalties against the Chicago Bears. There should have at least been a 15 yard roughing the passer/late hit call on the final self-sack where Brock gave himself up and #96 for the Bears took three steps before diving on him.

It's very rare for one team to have zero penalty yards and the other to have more than 100. It has only happened three times in NFL history. The other two times were in a 1991 game between WAS and CLE. (CLE had 103 penalty yards. WAS had zero.) The other was in a game in 1942 between CHI and GB. In an interesting bit of symmetry, the Bears were penalized for 118 yards in that game while the Packers had 0 penalty yards.

Performance on 3rd and Long (7 or more needed to gain)

Quarter ▾ Time Down ToGo Location Detail Result
1 9:29 3 7 CHI 47 Jay Cutler pass complete short right to Marc Mariani for 10 yards (tackle by Chris Harris) conversion by catch
1 7:37 3 9 DEN 42 Jay Cutler sacked by Derek Wolfe for -2 yards sack
2 10:43 3 10 DEN 28 Jay Cutler pass incomplete deep left intended for Jeremy Langford incomplete
2 4:28 3 9 DEN 48 Jay Cutler pass complete short left to Cameron Meredith for 6 yards (tackle by David Bruton) catch but short
3 1:00 3 8 DEN 19 Jay Cutler pass incomplete deep left intended for Marquess Wilson (defended by Bradley Roby) incomplete
4 3:15 3 10 CHI 24 Jay Cutler pass complete short right to Martellus Bennett for 17 yards (tackle by Aqib Talib) conversion by catch

The Bears were able to convert on two of six third and longs - their first and their last of the day. They were held to 4 of 12 on 3rd down overall. Their other two conversions came on 3rd and 3 (38 yard completion to Josh Bellamy) and 3rd and 1 from our 2 late in the game (2 yard TD run by Langford). There were no 3rd down conversions allowed by penalty against our defense this game that hasn't happened ery often this year.

Stopping the run (and the pass) on first and 10

The Bears ran the ball 17 times on first down for 62 yards (3.65 ypc) with most of the damage coming on two scrambles from Jay Cutler. Those scrambles accounted for 24 of those 62 yards.  Langford and Carey had the other 15 carries for 38 yards (2,53 ypc). Of the 28 plays that the Bears ran on first down, 17 were runs and 11 were passes. The average yardage needed to gain on 2nd downs for the Bears was 6.50 yards. This was the best performance that any team has had against our defense this season.

For comparison, Oakland averaged 9.14 yards to gain on 2nd down in their game against us earlier this year. So far this year, teams have gained an average of 2.19 yards per play against us on first down - meaning that they end up most commonly with 2nd and 8. Surprisingly this is near the bottom of the league - 22nd. The Bucs have the worst first down defense allowing an average of 2.90 yards per play on first down while the Panthers are leading the league in allowing only 1.36 yards per play on first down.

Moving forward

The P*ts come to town next week for a game that has been circled by the team and the fans since the schedule was announced. This will be our first game against them in Denver since 2011. Their offense has been hobbled by injuries, but they always seem to have guys step up and play big when the lights shine brightest. I like our chances because the P*ts are mortal away from Poxboro, but Belicheat has made a career out of taking advantage of inexperienced QBs like Brock Osweiler. I have a feeling that this is going to be a low scoring affair that is decided by one side making a mistake and I hope that it isn't us.