The offense scored 15 unanswered points over the final 19 minutes; the defense shut out the Kansas City Chiefs for the second half; and special teams shut down the Chief on punt and kickoff returns while blocking a critical second-half field goal that saved potentially game-changing points.
Starting three rookies created a built-in difficulty factor for a first-year coaching staff. Yet maybe the results should not totally surprise, particularly on defense. The Bears started rookie safeties, and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio annually sent safeties to Pro Bowls while in charge of the San Francisco 49ers defense.
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Fangio also unveiled an unorthodox package with Willie Young at OLB to start the game before going to what has long been expected to be the bedrock of the 3-4: Eddie Goldman at nose tackle, and Jeremiah Ratliff and Jarvis Jenkins as ends. The defense also lost middle linebacker Shea McClellin in the second half but was able to win with Christian Jones taking over McClellin’s signal-caller duties and subbing newcomer LaRoy Reynolds into the scheme seamlessly.
“Coach Vic has done a great job of calling the right calls he know the guys that are in are going to be able to execute,” Reynolds said. “That is what he’s doing with the defense.”
Without starting receivers Alshon Jeffery and Eddie Royal, offensive coordinator Adam Gase trotted out some “wildcat” work for Matt Forte, with limited success but at least it was forcing the Chiefs to adjust to different looks.
Gase appeared to be in a conservative mode similar to the game plan of the loss to the Seattle Seahawks, but then the offense opened up more in the second half and scored 15 unanswered points over the final 19 minutes.
“In the second half we mixed it up a bit,” said running back Matt Forte. “The passing game opened up. It worked a little bit and then our two-minute offense took over at the end. It’s just a testament to our coaches.”
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Gase said he’d called only one two-minute drive in his career before last Sunday’s win over the Oakland Raiders. He effectively called two on Sunday, with scoring drives of 88 and 67 yards for the winning two touchdowns.
Special teams continued to eliminate its disasters in kick coverage, allowing one 19-yard kickoff return and one punt return of 10 yards for the closest things to breakaways. The effort by the field-goal-block team delivered a block by Pernell McPhee, lined up to shoot the “A” gap to one side of the long snapper, of a 27-yard field goal at the end of the Chiefs' first possession of the third quarter, a turning point in the game.
Moon's Grade: A