Against all odds and predictions, the Chicago Bears secured an impressive win over the New England Patriots for Week 7's Monday Night Football.
We all knew Bill Belichick was going to make history in this matchup, and he did, just not in the way we expected...
Instead of passing George Halas for second on the all-time coaching victories, the Pats gave up their first ever loss to Chicago at Gillette Stadium, along with Justin Fields' highest scoring game. It'll probably only last for one night, but as it stands the Bears have a better QB situation than the Patriots.
Quarterback Troubles in New England
Mac Jones' return to the turf didn't quite come with the shock and awe he was hoping for. Despite a few nice scrambles and 3 completions for 13 yards, Jones led two drives to 3-and-out punts to start the game. With Chicago holding a 10-point lead, Jones threw up a wild attempt downfield which was intercepted on the sideline.
The mistake got him benched immediately and it was Bailey Zappe's time to shine.
The rookie has had two impressive starts in his first NFL season while Jones has been sidelined, and he was no different as he entered Monday Night's game.
Zappe led the Pats to two touchdown drives right off the bat. It took just over 3 and a half minutes with the ball in hand for the back-up QB to find the endzone - twice. He went 4-for-4 for 97 yards to take a 14-10 lead - including this touchdown pass to Jakobi Meyers.
But that was pretty much all she wrote for the Patriots' offense.
Zappe threw just 88 yards for the rest of the game, but worse than that - committed 3 turnovers and failed to put any more points on the board.
After a fumble lost with a minute left before the break, the Pats were back down 20-10 and the second half was no better... New England led four drives before taking a disappointing knee to end the game - punt, punt, interception, interception. It seems the rookie couldn't quite hold his nerves till the final whistle.
KYLER GORDON INTERCEPTION. PILE IT ON pic.twitter.com/C0Mugo7q8i— Barstool Chicago (@barstoolchicago) October 25, 2022
With ups and downs from both QBs, Belichick now has a big question to answer... Who will start against the Jets on Sunday?
Now, we could talk about the troubles on New England's side of the ball all night long. But credit where credit is due, Chicago forced 4 turnovers and 4 punts to be the deciding factor in this matchup. Their dominance in pass coverage and on the line of scrimmage, gave Justin Fields some of the best starting field positions he'll see all year.
This was the momentum shift that seemed to take any and all confidence away from Zappe.
The Ground Game
As the Chicago defense dominated with the ball in the air, it was all down to the ground game.
Given the poor passer we all know him to be, Justin Fields led the charge for the Bears with his usual scramble drills - rushing for 82 yards and a touchdown on the night. David Montgomery and Khalil Herbert got in on the action too, as they logged 124 total yards, with Montgomery finding the end zone on the ground, and Herbert taking a screen pass in for 6.
The Bears out-rushed the Pats 243-70 to burn the clock and hold the lead for their first win in Foxborough.
Why worry about having one of the worst passers in the league when you can just dominate the clock with your run game? Chicago had 37 minutes of possession to New England's 22 - killing any chance of a second-half comeback.
I know Montgomery is hard to bring down, but what are the Pats doing here?
Perhaps the most reliable thing in New England is Rhamondre Stevenson.
Off the back of a 2-touchdown performance against the Cleveland Browns in Week 6, Stevenson followed up with another score last night - putting up 6 from a solid red zone run. The second-year RB saw 11 carries and 8 receptions to clock 107 yards of total offense.
While both their QBs force punts and throw interceptions, New England should just give this man the ball, and watch the yards add up…
Fields put on perhaps his most solid performance of the season, leading the Bears offense to 390 yards and a season high in points. It seems he's found what works, and he's sticking to it.
Roughly on par with his average completion percentage this year - Fields connected on 13 of 21 passing attempts for 179 yards and a touchdown (although it was a screen pass, so not too much credit here). On the other hand, he amassed 82 rushing yards on 14 carries, including one trip to the end zone, to be the most successful runner of the day for either team.
He may not be a prolific pocket passer (he definitely isn't) but Fields still proved he can make things happen against a respectable defense - and he's not a bad addition to your fantasy football team either.
Justin Fields making magic pic.twitter.com/yiDgiEGZ8O— Barstool Chicago (@barstoolchicago) October 25, 2022
It could be a fluke for a team that has only passed 23 points once this year, but I can't write off the Bears just yet, despite how bad they are. The downfall of Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay could provide the perfect opening for Chicago to nab a Wild Card spot by the time the playoffs roll around.
All eyes look to Thursday Night for a Bucs-Ravens showdown to kick off Week 8 as we approach the midpoint of the 2022 NFL season. Join me on Friday Morning where I'll be giving you the usual rundown of all the highlights and lowlights.
Will Brady bust again, while Lamar shows the GOAT a little something from the new generation of QBs? Or will the old buck teach the newbie a lesson? My bets are on Baltimore...