|2012 Chicago Bears season|
|Head coach||Lovie Smith|
|General manager||Phil Emery|
|Owner||The McCaskey Family|
|Home field||Soldier Field|
|Local radio||WBBM · WCFS · WLEY · WSCR|
|Division place||3rd NFC North|
|Playoff finish||Did not qualify|
The 2012 Chicago Bears season was the franchise's 93rd season in the National Football League, as well as the ninth under head coach Lovie Smith. The team played at Soldier Field for the tenth season since its reconstruction in 2001.
The Bears entered the 2012 season looking to improve on their 8-8 record in 2011. They acquired wide receiver Brandon Marshall from the Miami Dolphins, who had played with Bears Quarterback, Jay Cutler with the Denver Broncos from 2006-2008. The Bears were expected to be a wild card team by ten ESPN experts, and four NFL.com analysts predicted that the team would finish second in the NFC North. By the season's midpoint, the Bears had proven to be among the league's elite teams, having a record of 7-1 in their first 8 games, something they had not accomplished since their 2006 Super Bowl season, along with a scoring differential of +120, which led the league. The team trailed the San Francisco 49ers in scoring defense with 15 points per game allowed, and third in scoring offense with 29.5, trailing the New England Patriots and Houston Texans. The defense also recorded six interceptions returned for touchdowns in the first seven games of the season, an NFL record; the Bears then recorded two more in the season, one shy of the record set by the 1961 San Diego Chargers. However, during the second half of the season, the Bears went 3-5, and after scoring 19 touchdowns in the first eight games, the Bears scored ten fewer in the second half of the season. Despite defeating the Detroit Lions in the season finale to have a record of 10-6, the Minnesota Vikings, who had a better division record than Chicago, defeated the Green Bay Packers 37-34, ending the Bears season. As a result, the Bears became the first team since the 1996 Washington Redskins to start the season 7-1 and miss the playoffs. On December 31, Smith was fired, and was replaced by Montreal Alouettes head coach Marc Trestman.
The Bears finished the season by leading the NFL in takeaways with 44, sixth in third-down efficiency (35.5 percent) and eighth in sacks with 41, while ranking third in the league in fewest points allowed with 277; Chicago was the lone team in the top five in that category to not qualify for the playoffs. The Bears also had a +20 turnover margin, second behind the New England Patriots; the Bears and New York Giants were the only teams in the top eleven of the category to not make the playoffs.
This would be the last winning season for the Bears until 2018.
On January 3, the team fired eleven-year general manager Jerry Angelo. In the search for a new general manager, the Bears considered New York Giants director of college scouting Marc Ross, San Diego Chargers director of player personnel Jimmy Raye III, New England Patriots director of pro personnel Jason Licht, and Kansas City Chiefs director of college scouting Phil Emery, along with in-house candidate Tim Ruskell (Ruskell and the Bears would mutually part ways on January 30). The hunt later narrowed down to Emery and Licht, and Emery was ultimately chosen as the new general manager on January 28.
Offensive coordinator Mike Martz later resigned from his position, and on January 7, the Bears promoted offensive line coach Mike Tice to Martz's role. On January 8, Tim Holt was hired to take Tice's place. In the team's search for a new offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach after Shane Day's resignation, they originally considered former Bears quarterback coach Greg Olson (though he later declined) and Alex Van Pelt. Tice had expressed interest in hiring Dirk Koetter, who worked with Tice in Jacksonville, though Koetter would later be hired by the Atlanta Falcons. The Bears eventually hired former Seattle Seahawks quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates. The team also re-signed special-teams coordinator Dave Toub back on the team to a two-year extension; Toub had been among the candidates for the Miami Dolphins head coach position, but failed to get hired.
The Bears, after head athletic trainer Tim Bream left for Penn State, promoted former assistant athletic trainer Chris Hanks to Bream's role, as well as director of rehabilitation Bobby Slater to Hanks's role. The Bears' scouting team was expanded after hiring Chris Ballard as director of pro scouting, Marty Barrett as college scouting director, while adding seven new scouts and four scouting assistants. Among the new scouts is former Bears cornerback Dwayne Joseph, who was hired as a pro scout.
Chicago opened free agency with an NFC North-leading $24 million in cap space.
The first transaction of 2012 was on January 6, when the Bears signed Donovan Warren, Reggie Stephens, and Draylen Ross to future/reserve contracts. On March 13, the first day of free agency, Chicago acquired wide receiver Brandon Marshall from the Miami Dolphins for two third round draft picks, along with Jason Campbell and Blake Costanzo. The following day, Eric Weems was signed, followed by Michael Bush eight days later. The final signing of March was New York Giants receiver Devin Thomas. On April 4, the Bears signed conerbacks Kelvin Hayden and Jonathan Wilhite, and offensive guard Chilo Rachal on April 18. The following day saw Chicago signing Buccaneers linebacker Geno Hayes. The first signings of May occurred on May 10, when the Bears signed John McCargo, DeMario Pressley, and Cheta Ozougwu, and 13 days later, Nate Collins was signed. On June 15, the Bears signed Cornelius Brown and Cory Brandon. Two days later, Chicago signed Lorenzo Booker.
The first departures were on March 1, when the Bears released Anthony Adams and Frank Omiyale. Six days later, the Bears announced that they will not bring back quarterback Caleb Hanie, who was subsequently signed by the Denver Broncos. On March 23, the Bears lost Marion Barber to retirement, and unrestricted free agent Corey Graham to the Baltimore Ravens. Three days later, Zack Bowman was signed by the Minnesota Vikings, followed by Amobi Okoye to Tampa Bay on April 7. On April 19, the Bears released Max Komar, and Winston Venable was released on May 3. Eleven days later, Chicago waived Levi Horn, Reggie Stephens, and Andre Smith. On June 12, Donovan Warren was released, followed by Nathan Enderle and Mansfield Wrotto on June 14. On July 17, undrafted free agent Alvester Alexander was released.
In the first round, the Bears selected Boise State defensive end Shea McClellin with the 19th overall pick. Though McClellin played defensive end and linebacker at college, Bears general manager Phil Emery stated that McClellin will exclusively play defensive end with the Bears. In the second round, the Bears traded their second round pick (50th overall) and their fifth rounder (150th overall) to the St. Louis Rams in exchange for their second rounder (45th overall), which was used on South Carolina wide receiver Alshon Jeffery. Emery considered Jeffery one of the best receivers in the draft, placing him ahead of Justin Blackmon and Michael Floyd. In round three, the Bears drafted Oregon State safety Brandon Hardin 79th overall, despite missing the entire 2011 college football season with a shoulder injury. Hardin's selection marked the eighth consecutive year the team spent a draft pick on a safety. In the next round, the Bears selected Temple tight end Evan Rodriguez. Though he played tight end, he was envisioned as a fullback by the team, and was primarily intended to be a blocker. Rodriguez stated that he has been a blocker at Temple during Al Golden's tenure as offensive coordinator. The Bears closed out the draft by drafting two cornerbacks, Nevada's Isaiah Frey (184th overall) and TCU's Greg McCoy (220th overall), despite the team already having six cornerbacks. McCoy was sixth in the nation in kickoff return yards, having averaged 30.6 yards per return, and scoring two touchdowns. Draft analysts gave the Bears draft grades mainly C's. The entire draft class was signed by May 15.
|2012 Chicago Bears draft|
|1||19||Shea McClellin||Defensive end||Boise State|
|2||45||Alshon Jeffery *||Wide receiver||South Carolina||From St. Louis Rams|
|3||79||Brandon Hardin||Safety||Oregon State|
|5||111||Evan Rodriguez||Fullback/Tight end||Temple|
|7||220||Greg McCoy||Cornerback/Kick returner||TCU|
|Pro Football Hall of Fame Made at least one Pro Bowl during careerMade roster|
|2||50||to St. Louis Rams||St. Louis's second round pick (45th overall)|
After the conclusion of the draft, the Bears announced coming to terms with eleven undrafted free-agents.
51 rookies worked out with the team at Rookie Minicamp, consisting of closed two-hour practices. The rookies included 6 draft picks, 11 undrafted free agents and 34 others.
On May 22, the Bears began their organized team activity (OTA) workouts, with workouts being from May 29-31 and June 4-7, with a mandatory full squad workout in June. Under the new collective bargaining agreement between the league and the NFLPA, offseason programs will last 9 weeks, instead of the former 14 weeks, and will be in 3 phases. In the first phase, activities were limited to strength, conditioning, and physical rehabilitation, with only strength and conditioning coaches allowed on the field. Players cannot wear helmets, and footballs are limited to quarterbacks and their receivers. In the second phase, all coaches are allowed on the field, and players will perform 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 non-contact drills. In the third and final phase, players may wear helmets, but one-on-one drills involving the offense and defense are prohibited. Running back Matt Forté skipped the workouts due to a contract dispute. Middle linebacker Brian Urlacher, cornerback Charles Tillman, wide receiver Devin Hester and kicker Robbie Gould did not attend the workouts. Tight end Matt Spaeth, rookie receiver Alshon Jeffery, receiver Johnny Knox and cornerback Jonathan Wilhite were present, but did not participate. Julius Peppers held out of team drills, and Chauncey Davis was called to take first team reps at defensive end. Kyle Adams replaced Spaeth at tight end. Dom DeCicco and Nick Roach replaced Urlacher at linebacker. Patrick Mannelly also did not practice due to an injury.
During Bears minicamp, Matt Forte still held out, and remained unavailable. Forte had a July 16 deadline to agree to a long-term deal, and eventually signed it on the day of the deadline. Newcomer Michael Bush was called to take Forte's place before the signing.
The team held training camp at Olivet Nazarene University for the eleventh consecutive year, which ran from July 25 to August 17. The Bears held their annual Family Fest at Soldier Field on August 3 in front of a crowd of 27,352.
The first transaction of Training Camp occurred on July 26, when the Bears traded with the Buccaneers, with the Buccaneers sending Brian Price to Chicago in exchange for an undisclosed 2013 NFL Draft pick. The last signing of July happened two days later, when Jeremy Ware was signed. The first acquisition of August was former Bears receiver Rashied Davis after Devin Thomas announced his retirement, and Derek Walker was signed the next day.
The first departure during Training Camp was David Teggart on July 28, and on August 5, Devin Thomas announced his retirement. The final two departures before preseason occurred on August 7, when the Bears released Tyler Hendrickson, and August 8, when Draylen Ross was released.
The Bears' preseason schedule was announced on April 4, 2012. The Bears took on the Broncos, Peyton Manning, and former Bear Caleb Hanie, playing in their first game as Broncos, a game the Bears lost 31-3. Though safety Major Wright was able to intercept Manning, and rookie Shea McClellin managed to sack Hanie in the first quarter, the team, playing without Jay Cutler, Matt Forté, Brian Urlacher, and Julius Peppers, the offense failed to convert any third down attempts, and only managed to get into Broncos territory once in the first half, which resulted in Josh McCown getting sacked. The defense also allowed Denver to convert 8 out of 16 third down conversions. In the second half, the Broncos scored three touchdowns on Xavier Omon's run, Brock Osweiler's pass to Jason Hill, and Adam Weber's pass to Cornelius Ingram. In the second game, the Bears faced rookie first-round draft pick Robert Griffin III and the Redskins, and forced Griffin to fumble. The Bears would lead 30-10, but Washington would take the lead in the fourth quarter after scoring 21 points on two Kirk Cousins passes and a Brandon Banks punt return, but Robbie Gould would tie the Bears record (that he himself set) for the longest field goal to give the Bears the victory. Against the defending champion New York Giants, though Cutler only completed 9 of 21 passes for 96 yards, he threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Marshall, and Gould kicked two field goals. The Giants would go on to score two touchdowns in the second-quarter, and led 17-7, though the Bears would later regain the lead 20-17. Late in the fourth quarter, Bears rookie Isaiah Frey intercepted a David Carr pass that was tipped by Anthony Walters to give the Bears the victory. In the final preseason game against the Cleveland Browns, a frequent preseason opponent, the Bears took an early lead that they never relinquished for the rest of the game on two Josh McCown touchdown passes, an interception return by rookie Greg McCoy, and a blocked punt returned 22 yards for a touchdown by Brittan Golden, leading to a Bears 28-20 victory.
|1||August 9||Denver Broncos||L 3-31||0-1||Soldier Field||Gamebook||Recap|
|2||August 18||Washington Redskins||W 33-31||1-1||Soldier Field||Gamebook||Recap|
|3||August 24||at New York Giants||W 20-17||2-1||MetLife Stadium||Gamebook||Recap|
|4||August 30||at Cleveland Browns||W 28-20||3-1||Cleveland Browns Stadium||Gamebook||Recap|
The team's schedule was announced on April 17. Besides the team's divisional opponents, the Bears played the AFC South, NFC West, along with the Dallas Cowboys and Carolina Panthers. The team had the twentieth strongest schedule in the NFL, tied with the Detroit Lions, New York Jets, and Kansas City Chiefs with opponents having a combined record of 126-130 (.492) in 2011. The team captains for the season remained the same as the previous season; the Bears selected Jay Cutler, Roberto Garza, Patrick Mannelly, Julius Peppers and Brian Urlacher as captains.
|1||September 9||Indianapolis Colts||W 41-21||1-0||Soldier Field||Gamebook||Recap|
|2||September 13||at Green Bay Packers||L 10-23||1-1||Lambeau Field||Gamebook||Recap|
|3||September 23||St. Louis Rams||W 23-6||2-1||Soldier Field||Gamebook||Recap|
|4||October 1||at Dallas Cowboys||W 34-18||3-1||Cowboys Stadium||Gamebook||Recap|
|5||October 7||at Jacksonville Jaguars||W 41-3||4-1||EverBank Field||Gamebook||Recap|
|7||October 22||Detroit Lions||W 13-7||5-1||Soldier Field||Gamebook||Recap|
|8||October 28||Carolina Panthers||W 23-22||6-1||Soldier Field||Gamebook||Recap|
|9||November 4||at Tennessee Titans||W 51-20||7-1||LP Field||Gamebook||Recap|
|10||November 11||Houston Texans||L 6-13||7-2||Soldier Field||Gamebook||Recap|
|11||November 19||at San Francisco 49ers||L 7-32||7-3||Candlestick Park||Gamebook||Recap|
|12||November 25||Minnesota Vikings||W 28-10||8-3||Soldier Field||Gamebook||Recap|
|13||December 2||Seattle Seahawks||L 17-23 (OT)||8-4||Soldier Field||Gamebook||Recap|
|14||December 9||at Minnesota Vikings||L 14-21||8-5||Mall of America Field||Gamebook||Recap|
|15||December 16||Green Bay Packers||L 13-21||8-6||Soldier Field||Gamebook||Recap|
|16||December 23||at Arizona Cardinals||W 28-13||9-6||University of Phoenix Stadium||Gamebook||Recap|
|17||December 30||at Detroit Lions||W 26-24||10-6||Ford Field||Gamebook||Recap|
The Bears opened the season against the Indianapolis Colts and first overall draft pick Andrew Luck at Soldier Field. The Bears opened the game on a sour note when Jay Cutler's pass to Matt Forte was intercepted by Jerrell Freeman and returned for a touchdown, giving the Colts a 7-0 lead. Cutler would only complete 30 percent of his passes (3 of 10) for 21 yards for a 4.9 passer rating. Despite this, in the second quarter, Cutler would complete 15 of 17 for 228 yards, one touchdown and a passer rating of 80.5, as the Bears would score twice on a Michael Bush 1-yard touchdown run and Brandon Marshall's 3-yard touchdown catch to give Chicago a 14-7 lead. The Bears defense was not able to sack Luck, but the Colts offense was only able to convert 1 of 4 third down attempts, and Tim Jennings was able to intercept Luck. In the third quarter, the Bears scored on a 6-yard rushing touchdown by Forte to increase the lead to 31-14. In the final quarter, Luck threw his first career touchdown to Donnie Avery to close the gap by 13 points, but the Bears would retaliate when Cutler threw a 42-yard touchdown pass to Alshon Jeffery. The Colts attempted to score, but Luck's pass would be intercepted by Jennings with less than two minutes left in the game.
With the win, the Bears opened the season with a 1-0 record. The 41 points scored by the Bears were the most in a season opener since the 1986 season, when the Bears defeated the Cleveland Browns 41-31, and is also the first time the Bears scored 41 points without a defensive/special teams touchdown since 1993.
In a Thursday Night showdown against the rival Green Bay Packers, the Bears struggled throughout much of the game, and the offense was only able to muster one touchdown and 168 yards. Quarterback Jay Cutler was sacked seven times, and completed 11 of 27 passes for 126 yards with one touchdown, four interceptions and a 28.2 passer rating. Cutler's counterpart Aaron Rodgers was sacked five times, and ended the game by completing 22 of 32 passes for 219 yards and a touchdown, an interception and a passer rating of 85.3. In the first quarter, Packers kicker Mason Crosby opened the game with a field goal, and the Bears would fall behind even more when Packers holder Tim Masthay threw a pass to tight end Tom Crabtree on a fake field goal. In the third quarter, Matt Forte sustained an ankle injury (originally reported as a high ankle sprain), and was lost for the game. After Cutler was later intercepted by Tramon Williams, Bears linebacker Lance Briggs dropped a possible interception, as Green Bay later increased the lead on another field goal. The Bears would later score on a Robbie Gould field goal, but the Packers later scored ten points (a Crosby field goal and a Rodgers 26-yard touchdown pass to Donald Driver) in 21 seconds early in the fourth quarter. After Tim Jennings intercepted a Rodgers pass, Cutler connected with Kellen Davis to narrow the score to 23-10 with 6:49 left in the game, but the Packers would hold for the win.
The loss dropped the Bears to a 1-1 record.
Attempting to bounce back from the Week 2 loss to the Packers, the Bears faced the St. Louis Rams. Throughout the course of the game, the Bears defense sacked Rams quarterback Sam Bradford six times, marking the first time the Bears defense has recorded at least five sacks in back-to-back games since the team's 2001 season. The six sacks increased the Bears season sack total to 14, which led the league, and is the most they have recorded in the first three games since 1987. On the offensive side, however, Jay Cutler completed only 17 of 31 passes for 183 yards and an interception (by Cortland Finnegan; Finnegan appeared to fumble on the return, and the ball was recovered by Bears receiver Devin Hester, but the fumble was overturned), and a mere passer rating of 58.9. With running back Matt Forte out for the game, the Bears rushing attack ran for 103 yards and Michael Bush ran for a 3-yard touchdown. In the second quarter, Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein kicked a 56-yard field goal, the longest in Soldier Field history. In the fourth quarter, Bears cornerback Tim Jennings deflected a Bradford pass intended for Danny Amendola to Major Wright, who returned the interception 45 yards for a touchdown.
The victory gave the Bears a 2-1 record.
In week 4, the Bears played against the Dallas Cowboys on Monday Night Football in Dallas. After a scoreless first quarter and Robbie Gould's field goal, Charles Tillman intercepted Tony Romo, returning the pick for a touchdown. The interception would be the first of Romo's five interceptions. Romo would later hit Miles Austin for a 10-yard touchdown. In the second half, Cutler was able to hit Devin Hester on a 34-yard touchdown pass to extend the Bears lead. Later, Romo's pass was intercepted by Bears linebacker Lance Briggs, who then returned the interception for a touchdown to increase the lead 24-7. The pick-six marked Bears' fourteenth forced turnover, which led the league, and also leads the league in interceptions (11). Cutler would then throw another touchdown pass to Brandon Marshall. Cutler would have his highest performance of the season, completing 18 of 24 passes for 275 yards, along with two touchdowns. His 140.1 passer rating was the third highest of his career. Marshall caught seven passes for 138 yards, a season-best. With 34 seconds left in the game, Romo was replaced by former Bears quarterback Kyle Orton, who threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Jason Witten, and the Cowboys had a two-point conversion, but the Bears would then win 34-18.
With the win, the Bears shared the NFC North lead with the Minnesota Vikings with a 3-1 record.
In week 5, the Bears recorded the highest margin of victory of the season, defeating the Jacksonville Jaguars 41-3. In the first quarter, the Bears scored first on a Robbie Gould 32-yard field goal, though Jacksonville would respond in the next quarter on Josh Scobee's 31-yard kick. In the second half, the Bears broke the deadlock by kicking another field goal and cornerback Charles Tillman returning a Blaine Gabbert interception 36 yards for a touchdown, breaking former Bears safety Mike Brown's franchise record for the most pick-sixes in a career. Tillman also tied Donnell Woolford for the most interceptions by a cornerback in team history. In the fourth quarter, the Bears scored on Jay Cutler's 10-yard touchdown pass to Alshon Jeffery. Chicago would then extend their lead on Cutler's 24-yard pass to Brandon Marshall to increase the lead to 27-3. Bears linebacker Lance Briggs would then intercept Gabbert and score on a 36-yard return. Briggs and Tillman would become the first pair in league history to return interceptions for touchdowns in consecutive games, and the Bears became the first team in NFL history to return five interceptions for touchdowns in the first five games of a season. The Bears would close out the game with backup running back Armando Allen scoring on a 46-yard touchdown run.
The victory improved the team's record to 4-1. The victory is the most lopsided win for the Bears since their 1985 44-0 victory over the Cowboys, and the 38 points scored in the second half are the most since the team scoring 49 second half points in the 1941 win over the Philadelphia Eagles.
Coming off a bye week, the Bears battled rival Detroit Lions on Monday Night Football. The team kept the Lions from scoring until the fourth quarter, and forced four takeaways. The first turnover forced was in the first half, when Lance Briggs stripped the ball from Mikel Leshoure, which was recovered by Julius Peppers. The second and third turnovers were forced in the third quarter on Zack Bowman's muffed punt recovery, and Brian Urlacher recovering Joique Bell's fumble. The final turnover occurred when Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford's pass was intercepted by D. J. Moore. The Bears struck first on Jay Cutler's touchdown pass to Brandon Marshall, and Robbie Gould kicked a field goal to increase the first half score to 10-0. During the game, Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh threw Cutler to the ground, injuring his ribs. Cutler was eventually replaced by Jason Campbell for a play, before returning to the game. In the second half, Gould kicked another field goal, and prevented the Lions from scoring until the final 36 seconds of the game, when Stafford threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Broyles to narrow the margin to six points, but the Bears sealed the victory by recovering the ensuring onside kick.
The victory increased the team's record to 5-1.
In Week 8, the Bears donned their 1940s throwback uniforms against the Carolina Panthers, who had the worst record in the NFC. The Bears scored first on Matt Forte's 13-yard touchdown run, which would be countered by Justin Medlock's 34-yard field goal. The Panthers then took the lead on Louis Murphy's fumble recovery; Panthers quarterback Cam Newton ran with the ball, and lost the ball when Bears safety Major Wright tackled him at the 1-yard line. The ball rolled into the endzone, where Murphy recovered it. Medlock would then kick three more field goals, and by the fourth quarter, the Panthers led 19-7. The tide eventually turned when Panthers punter Brad Nortman shanked a 6-yard punt, and Jay Cutler hit Kellen Davis on a 12-yard touchdown pass with less than seven minutes left in the game. On the first play of the Panthers' next drive, Tim Jennings intercepted Newton and returned the pick 25 yards to regain the lead 20-19, after Cutler's two-point conversion passing attempt was intercepted. Medlock later kicked another field goal to reclaim the lead 22-20 with 2:27 left in the game. Cutler would lead the Bears downfield, and Gould kicked a 41-yard field goal as time expired to give Chicago the victory. The kick was Gould's tenth game-winning field goal, and the first since 2010.
The win gave Chicago a 6-1 record.
Against the Tennessee Titans, the Bears recorded a franchise record 28 points in the first quarter. The Bears defense recorded five turnovers; Charles Tillman recorded four forced fumbles by stripping Kenny Britt and Jared Cook once, and Chris Johnson twice (a league first), while Brian Urlacher recorded an interception. The Bears scored the first touchdown of the game when Sherrick McManis blocked Brett Kern's punt, which was recovered by Corey Wootton, who returned the blocked punt five yards for his first career touchdown. The Titans later recorded a safety when J'Marcus Webb was penalized for illegal-hands-to-the-face while blocking in the end zone. The Bears then scored on Matt Forte's eight-yard run, followed by Urlacher intercepting Matt Hasselbeck and returning the pick for another touchdown. Jay Cutler later hit Brandon Marshall to end the quarter with the Bears leading 28-2. The Bears became the first team in league history to score a touchdown pass, a touchdown run, an interception returned for a touchdown, and a kick/punt blocked for a score in a quarter. Titans kicker Rob Bironas later ended the half on a 39-yard field goal. The Titans would finally score a touchdown on Hasselbeck's 30-yard touchdown pass to Nate Washington in the third quarter. After Robbie Gould's three field goals, the Bears scored two more touchdowns on Cutler's passes to Marshall. With ten minutes left in the game, Johnson scored on an 80-yard run to narrow the score to 51-20, but the game would still be out of reach for the Titans.
With the win, the Bears improved to 7-1. The 51 points scored by the Bears were the most by the team since the 1980 victory over the Green Bay Packers, when the team triumphed 61-7. The points scored were also the highest by the Bears in a road game since their 1963 win over the Los Angeles Rams by a score of 52-14. In addition, Urlacher was named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week while McManis was named the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week. It was the first time teammates have won weekly awards since 2008.
In a game that various analysts considered a potential Super Bowl XLVII preview, the 7-1 Bears faced the also 7-1 Houston Texans on Sunday Night Football, in a game waged in the rain. The first half proved disastrous for Chicago, as Kellen Davis had the ball stripped by former Bear Danieal Manning, and recovered by Texans linebacker Tim Dobbins. Shayne Graham later kicked a 20-yard field goal to give Houston the first points of the game. On Chicago's next possession, Michael Bush fumbled, and the Texans recovered again. The Texans drive wouldn't last long, as Tim Jennings would intercept Matt Schaub. However, the Bears failed to take advantage of the turnover, as Jay Cutler's pass would get intercepted by Manning. A quarter later, Jennings once again intercepted Schaub, which set up a Robbie Gould 51-yard field goal. Later in the quarter, Justin Forsett broke a 25-yard run to the Bears 3-yard line, which set up Arian Foster's 2-yard touchdown catch. Late in the first half, Cutler was hit by Dobbins, giving him a concussion, which sidelined him for the rest of the game, and was replaced by Jason Campbell. With less than two minutes left in the third quarter, Gould hit a 24-yard field goal to draw the Bears within four points, but Graham would make a 42-yarder to increase the deficit to seven with less than five minutes left in the game. Gould had attempted a 48-yard field goal earlier in the fourth quarter, but the ball hit the left upright.
The Bears faced off on Monday night against the San Francisco 49ers in a battle of backup quarterbacks between Jason Campbell and Colin Kaepernick after Jay Cutler and Alex Smith were lost for the game due to concussions. With Campbell and Kaepernick making their first starts of the 2012 season, the game marked the first time two quarterbacks made their first starts of the season on Monday Night Football in a non-strike season (besides Week 1) since 1979 between Los Angeles Rams and Atlanta Falcons quarterbacks Vince Ferragamo and June Jones in Week 12. In Kaepernick's first career start, he completed 16 of 23 passes for 243 yards with two touchdowns and a 133.1 rating, while Campbell struggled, completing 14 of 22 passes for 107 yards with one touchdown, two interceptions and a 52.7 passer rating. Campbell was also sacked six times, including 5.5 times by Aldon Smith, the most by an individual on Chicago's opposing team. After David Akers made a 32-yard field goal, and the Bears went three-and-out, Kaepernick completed a 57-yard touchdown pass to Kyle Williams to give the 49ers a 10-0 lead in the first quarter. In the second quarter, 49ers running back Kendall Hunter scored on a 14-yard run, followed by Akers' 37-yard field goal. In the second half, the 49ers continued their dominance, with Kaepernick hitting Michael Crabtree on a 10-yard touchdown pass, which was countered by Campbell hitting Brandon Marshall on a 13-yard pass. In the final quarter, Akers hit a 32-yard field goal, and San Francisco recorded a safety when Campbell fumbled while getting sacked, with the ball being recovered by Bears offensive lineman Chilo Rachal in the endzone, making the final score 32-7.
The Bears fought their rival Minnesota Vikings in Week 12. The game was an injury-laden game for both teams, with a total of seven players lost for both teams, with Chicago losing five (Lance Louis [knee], Chris Spencer [knee], Matt Forte [ankle], Devin Hester [concussion], and Charles Tillman [ankle]), while Minnesota lost Kyle Rudolph and Harrison Smith to concussions. The Bears first offensive play resulted in Matt Forte fumbling for the first time all season when he ran into Evan Rodriguez, and had the ball recovered by Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway. The Vikings then scored a field goal on Blair Walsh's 40-yard field goal. The Bears then struck back when Nick Roach stripped the ball from Adrian Peterson, which was recovered by Tillman. Jay Cutler, returning from the concussion he sustained two weeks prior, moved the ball downfield to the Vikings one-yard line, where Michael Bush ran in to give the Bears the lead. The Bears closed out the quarter with a 10-3 lead after Gould kicked a 47-yard field goal. In the second quarter, the Bears scored again on Bush's second one-yard touchdown run. On the ensuing extra point, holder Adam Podlesh faked the kick and ran in to give the Bears two points.Chris Conte would eventually intercept Christian Ponder at the 48-yard line and return the interception 35 yards to the Vikings 13-yard line. Cutler then hit Matt Spaeth in the left corner of the end zone to increase the score to 25-3. Early in the second half, Minnesota would record their first touchdown of the game on Ponder's two-yard pass to Rudolph, and Gould would then make a 46-yard field goal late in the third quarter to end the game with a Chicago victory.
In his return, Cutler completed 15 of 17 passes for 117 yards with one touchdown and a 115.0 passer rating in the first half, and would end the game with stats of 23 of 31 passes completed for 188 yards with one touchdown, one interception and an 86.5 passer rating. Receiver Brandon Marshall recorded 12 catches for 92 yards, and passed the 1,000 yards receiving mark for the sixth time in his career with 1,017 yards, making him the first Bears receiver to record 1,000 yards in a season since Marty Booker in 2002.
With the win, Chicago improved to 8-3, snapping their two-game losing streak.
The Bears hosted the 6-5 Seattle Seahawks in Week 13, who had lost five of their first six road games. The Bears started the game strong, with Brian Urlacher forcing Marshawn Lynch to fumble, and the ball was recovered by Kelvin Hayden, and Jay Cutler eventually hit Earl Bennett on a 12-yard touchdown pass. The Bears would later fail twice to expand their lead; first, Lovie Smith called for Michael Bush to run up the middle on fourth-and-one at the Seattle 15, and he was stopped for no gain. On the second occasion, Bennett dropped a potential 62-yard touchdown pass. The Seahawks capitalized on the two blunders, with rookie quarterback Russell Wilson hitting Golden Tate on a 49-yard pass, and eventually scored on Lynch's 4-yard touchdown run. Wilson would complete 23 of 37 passes for 293 yards with two touchdowns and a 104.9 passer rating while rushing for 71 yards on nine carries. Seattle then took the lead on Steven Hauschka's 31-yard field goal to close the half. Seattle would have scored a touchdown on the previous play, but Braylon Edwards dropped the potential 10-yard touchdown pass in the end zone. In the third quarter, Chicago regained the lead on Cutler's 12-yard touchdown pass to Matt Forte, but Wilson would lead the Seahawks 97 yards to take back the lead on a touchdown pass to Tate. Cutler would then hit Brandon Marshall on a 56-yard pass to set up Robbie Gould's game-tying 46-yard field goal. In overtime, the Seahawks won the toss, and Wilson took the offense 80 yards, and threw the game-winning touchdown pass to Sidney Rice. On the play, Major Wright hit Rice while he was catching the ball, appearing to knock Rice unconscious and the ball out of his hands, but the review upheld the touchdown, giving Seattle the victory.
This would mark Urlacher's final game in a Bears' uniform. Urlacher was inactive for the final four games of the 2012 season, and he retired from the NFL on May 22, 2013.
Two weeks after their last meeting, the Bears faced the Vikings again, this time in Minnesota. During pregame warmups, the Bears lost kicker Robbie Gould to a left calf sprain, and was replaced by punter Adam Podlesh, though Gould would eventually kick the Bears extra points and an onside kick. Like the previous meeting, the game was injury-laden for the Bears, having lost Brian Urlacher, Tim Jennings, Stephen Paea and Earl Bennett before the game, while Henry Melton, Shea McClellin, Craig Steltz and Sherrick McManis were lost during the game. On the game's first play from scrimmage, Adrian Peterson broke free for a 51-yard gain, and scored on a one-yard touchdown run a few plays later. On Chicago's first drive, Jay Cutler's pass intended for Alshon Jeffery was intercepted by Josh Robinson, who returned the pick to the five-yard line, setting up Peterson's second one-yard touchdown run. Peterson would end the game rushing for a Vikings-record 104 yards. The Bears would finally score on Cutler's 23-yard touchdown pass to Jeffery to end the first half. The Vikings, however, scored once again when rookie Harrison Smith intercepted Cutler and returned the pick 56-yards for a touchdown. Cutler would later be lost for the game due to a neck injury when he was hit by Everson Griffen, and was replaced by Jason Campbell, who threw a 16-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Marshall to bring the Bears seven points behind. Marshall caught ten passes for 160 yards in the game, and surpassed Marty Booker's 2002 franchise season reception record with 101. However, Gould's onside kick was recovered by Kyle Rudolph, ending the game with a Vikings victory, and snapping the Bears six-game winning streak in the rivalry.
With the loss, the Bears dropped to 8-5. The loss is the sixth straight by the Bears in December, dating back to the 2011 season. The Bears also dropped behind the Packers in the NFC North after the latter defeated the Detroit Lions 27-20.
The Bears donned their 1940s throwbacks in their second game against the Green Bay Packers in an NFC North showdown, with a division title on the line for the Packers. After a scoreless first quarter, the Bears scored on Jay Cutler's 15-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Marshall. However, the Packers scored three unanswered touchdowns on Aaron Rodgers' touchdown passes to James Jones. The defending league MVP completed 23 of 36 passes for 291 yards, along with the touchdown passes. Cutler completed 12 of 21 passes for 135 yards with one touchdown, one interception and a 72.5 passer rating, and was sacked four times. After the Packers scored their first touchdown on Rodgers' touchdown pass to Jones late in the first half, Cutler's pass intended for Devin Hester was intercepted by Casey Hayward, which then became an eight-yard touchdown pass. The Packers then opened the second half when Rodgers threw another touchdown pass to Jones. Bears receiver Alshon Jeffery was later flagged for pass interference, nullifying a touchdown pass, and the Bears had to resort to Olindo Mare-substituting for Robbie Gould-kicking a 34-yard field goal. On the Bears following drive, they went three-and-out, and on the punt return, Randall Cobb threw a lateral to Jeremy Ross, who fumbled the ball. Anthony Walters then recovered the ball, but the Bears failed to capitalize on the turnover, failing to gain a yard, and the team had to resort to Mare's second 34-yard field goal. However, the Packers would hang on to defeat Chicago 21-13, clinching the NFC North.
The Bears fought to continue their playoff chances against the Arizona Cardinals, with a loss knocking the Bears out of contention. Jay Cutler began the game having his first six passes fall incomplete, though he ended the game completing 12 of 26 for 146 yards and a touchdown. The Bears started the game on a strong note when Cardinals running back Beanie Wells fumbled the ball, and was recovered by Zack Bowman in the end zone, giving the Bears the lead. Arizona then settled for Jay Feely's 49-yard field goal. On the following drive, Matt Forte broke free for a 36-yard run, followed by Brandon Marshall's 30-yard catch reaching the Cardinals 4-yard line, where Forte ran in untouched to increase the score to 14-3. The Cardinals later tried a fake field goal instead of attempting a 50-yard field goal, but failed. Later in the game, D. J. Moore muffed Dave Zastudil's punt, which was recovered by Arizona's Michael Adams. However, the Cardinals were only able to get a field goal. On Chicago's final possession of the first half, Cutler completed all of his passes, and the Bears scored on Cutler's 11-yard pass to Marshall. In the second half, Charles Tillman intercepted Ryan Lindley, and had the pick returned 10-yards for a touchdown. The interception return is the eighth by the team, one shy of the NFL record. Lindley was later replaced by Brian Hoyer, who was also ineffective, having a pass intercepted by Kelvin Hayden, who took it 39 yards to the Arizona 10. The Bears failed to take advantage of the interception, as Olindo Mare's field goal was blocked by Adrian Wilson, which was recovered by Justin Bethel, who returned the blocked kick 82 yards for the Cardinals lone touchdown.
With the win, the Bears kept their playoff hopes alive, as their record improved to 9-6. In order for the Bears to qualify for the playoffs, they must defeat the Lions in Week 17, while having the Packers defeat the Vikings.
In the final week of the season, the Bears played their second game against the Lions with a spot in the playoffs on the line. The Bears fell behind the Lions after the Bears drive stalled, and Jason Hanson kicked a field goal. Chicago then struck back, with Jay Cutler throwing a swing pass to Earl Bennett, who ran 60 yards for the touchdown; the pass is the longest completion of the season for the Bears. On the eventual kickoff, Joique Bell fumbled, and the Bears scored on a field goal. In the second quarter, Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford fumbled, and the ball was recovered by Julius Peppers, who reached Detroit's 10-yard line, and Matt Forte later scored on a one-yard run. The Bears recorded another takeaway when Tim Jennings intercepted Stafford and returned the pick to Detroit's 23-yard line, and the Bears scored another field goal. Detroit scored the final points of the half on Stafford's 25-yard touchdown pass to Kris Durham to make the score at halftime 20-10 in Chicago's favor. In the second half, the Lions scored again on Stafford's 10-yard touchdown pass to Will Heller. The Bears then had to settle for Olindo Mare kicking another field goal after Cutler failed to connect with Brandon Marshall. Chicago later had to kick another field goal when Cutler again failed to connect with Marshall. The Lions then drew within two points when Stafford threw a nine-yard touchdown pass to Brian Robiskie. However, Detroit would fail to score again and keep Chicago from running out the clock.
With the win, Chicago eliminated the New York Giants from playoff contention, but the Bears would also miss the playoffs after the Vikings defeated the Packers 37-34. The Bears ended the season with a 10-6 record.
|(3)Green Bay Packers||11||5||0||.688||5-1||8-4||433||336||L1|
|NFC North Opponents||3||3||0||.500||104||106|
|By Stadium Type|
|§||Bears franchise record|
|Category||Player(s)||Value||NFL Rank||NFC Rank|
|Passing Yards||Jay Cutler||3,033 yards||24th||12th|
|Passing Touchdowns||Jay Cutler||19 TDs||21st||11th|
|Rushing Yards||Matt Forte||1,094 yards||T-12th||6th|
|Rushing Touchdowns||Michael Bush/Matt Forte||5 TDs||T-20th||T-11th|
|Receptions||Brandon Marshall||118 rec §||T-2nd||2nd|
|Receiving Yards||Brandon Marshall||1,508 yards §||3rd||2nd|
|Receiving Touchdowns||Brandon Marshall||11 TDs||T-4th||3rd|
|Points||Robbie Gould||96 points||25th||13th|
|Kickoff Return Yards||Devin Hester||295 yards||22nd||10th|
|Punt Return Yards||Devin Hester||621 yards||32nd||6th|
|Tackles (combined)||Lance Briggs||40 tackles||40th||T-22nd|
|Sacks||Julius Peppers||11.5 sacks||T-9th||T-5th|
|Interceptions||Tim Jennings||9 INTs||1st||1st|
Stats updated to the end of the season (Week 17).
Stats updated to the end of the season (Week 17).