In the early round of games, the Cincinnati Bengals pushed their own advantage in the AFC North by topping the second-place Cleveland Browns. Later Sunday evening, the Chicago Bears helped the Bengals out even more by toppling the Baltimore Ravens in overtime.
The Bears and Ravens began their scheduled game at 1:00 PM Eastern time, but a lengthy weather delay pushed the finish of the game late into the evening hours. After going back and forth for the duration of the game, the Bears were able to hold the Ravens to just a field goal in the closing seconds, forcing overtime.
From there, the Bears’ defense took over, and after getting off the field, a couple big plays by Josh McCown and the rest of the offense set up a short field goal.
The Bears’ win will have repercussions on both sides of the playoff picture. As previously mentioned, it solidifies the Cincinnati Bengals’ advantage in the AFC North, but for the Bears, it means the NFC North is once again wide open.
Because the Lions lost their matchup, ironically, to the Pittsburgh Steelers, another AFC North squad, the Bears were left with an opportunity to pull even, and despite missing quarterback Jay Cutler, the Bears made good on that opportunity by playing smart football and capitalizing on the Ravens’ mistakes. The win also allows the Bears to keep pace in the ever-competitive NFC wildcard picture.
The game was a microcosm of the defending Super Bowl champions’ season. The Ravens were able to keep themselves in the game, seemingly in spite of their own play, but in the clutch moments, there were break-downs in their execution. Late in the game, they had a chance to win with a touchdown. They settled for a field goal. The Ravens had the Bears in a third and long situation in overtime, and they blew a coverage.
The Baltimore Ravens may be the defending champs, but they won’t have the chance to defend that championship unless they can run the table from here on out. Considering their current level of play, don’t expect to see such a turnaround come to pass.