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- Jay Cutler and the Chicago Bears overcame a 10-0 halftime deficit in Week 12.
- Chicago scored 21 points in the second half to edge the Buccaneers, 21-13.
- The Bears relied on an efficient ground game to win.
Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler admitted there were heated words exchanged among his Bears teammates at halftime of their Week 12, 21-13 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Chicago was down 10-0 at that point but responded in the second half to win its second consecutive game to improve to 5-6 on the season.
Cutler told ESPN’s Michael C. Wright on Nov. 23 that the Bears were “offensively challenged” during the 21-13 Week 12 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The halftime rants, which occurred when the Bears were trailing 10-0, helped Chicago secure its second straight win to improve to 5-6 on the 2014 NFL season:
“Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler admitted the discussions in the locker room at halftime Sunday of the team’s 21-13 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers became a little heated with the team down 10-0 and the offense struggling.
“Over the first two quarters, the Bears gained just three first downs and generated 68 yards on offense. By comparison, Tampa Bay racked up 211 yards in the first half and 11 first downs.
“‘We were challenged, offensively,’ Cutler said. ‘Defensively, they were playing really good football. They just had to sustain that. Offensively, Marc [Trestman] challenged us. The players, we challenged each other. We knew if we continued down this road, we were going to lose this game. We didn’t want that to happen.
“Asked to elaborate on how the team was challenged, ‘Cutler said, ‘Verbally, we questioned guys. Made sure everyone was in this for the right reasons. Made sure when we left that locker room, everyone’s mind was right on what we wanted to accomplish.’
“The Bears obviously responeded well to the halftime challenges.
“The offense marched 58 yards on six plays in the team’s first possession of the second half, with Cutler finding Alshon Jeffery for a 2-yard touchdown to cap the drive and put the club’s first points on the board.
“Still, the Bears finished with a season-low 204 yards on offense and converted on just 25 percent of third downs. Matt Forte scored a pair of touchdowns off late turnovers forced by the defense to lift the Bears.
“‘To me, it was very easy,’ Trestman said of his first-half assessment of the team. ‘Dropped balls, penalties, tipped balls, all of that. As I said to the guys at halftime, there was no one guy. We passed it around to everybody. You can’t be efficient playing football that way, especially when you’re dropping footballs and you have penalties. When we get over that, we’ll move the ball effectively and efficiently, but we have to get over that. And we did.'”
Eli Kaberon of the Bears’ official website writes how Chicago turned to its run game in the second half to pull off the win:
“So what changed between the first half and the second? The Bears’ offense went to a run-dominant playbook, allowing the offense to control the ball and the clock following the halftime break. And the team’s defense delivered, forcing turnovers on three straight Tampa drivers, giving the Chicago offense improved field position and the ability to turn the game around.
“When you get the ball at the (opposing) 40-yard line, or below, you have to find a way to put at least three (points) and we work for seven (points) every time,’ said left tackle Jermon Bushrod. ‘Everything wasn’t perfect in the second half, but we minimized our mistakes and we finished. We ran the ball and did what we were supposed to do, and that’s why we came out with the (win).’
“The commitment to the run made a difference in the second half. Chicago called 21 passing plays in the first half, compared to just the seven runs. After the break, the balance was completely flipped, as the Bears ran the ball 19 times after halftime and only dropped back to pass on nine snaps.
“The Bears finished with 92 yards on 26 carries, good for 3.5 yards per attempt.
“Much of the work went to running back Matt Forte, who finished with 89 rushing yards on 23 carries. Forte also had two touchdowns, just 1:49 apart from each other in the third quarter, which made the decisive difference in the final score for the Bears.
“Forte said that at the halftime break, the team’s coaches made a clear point: ‘despite playing a poor half of football early on, the team was only down 10 points. If they could get back to basics and correct some mistakes, a comeback was within reach.
“‘(The slow start) was all on us, with penalties backing us up and not executing little nuances of the play,’ the running back said. ‘We just had to go out there, execute the plays and drive the ball down the field.'”