Bears keep making mistakes, but this time they overcome them in wild and crazy win

Bears keep making mistakes, but this time they overcome them in wild and crazy win

Nearly everything about the Bears’ first win of the season was just plain crazy.

Marcus Cooper Leon Lett’d his way onto every highlight show for the rest of time, stopping short of the goal line on his return of a blocked field goal. The Bears turned the ball over not once but twice in their own red zone in the second half, erasing their double-digit halftime lead. Tarik Cohen rattled off an insane 73-yard rush that you could only recreate on a Playstation, only that was called back, apparently he stepped out of bounds. Jordan Howard came to the rescue with a walk-off touchdown rush that had Soldier Field hopping.

And that’s all without even mentioning the overarching topic of the day in the NFL: The President of the United States calling peaceful-protesting players “sons of bitches” who deserve to be fired.

All that madness — on the field and off of it — combined into a crazy concoction that ended with the Bears winning one of the more ridiculous games you’ll ever see.

And did I mention that the Bears won? That’s right, the same team that dropped to a sky-is-falling 0-2 a week ago with a turnover festival in that blowout loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers came back to Chicago and played well enough to beat the perennially contending Pittsburgh Steelers.

“It was great, especially in the fashion that it happened,” Bears defensive back Prince Amukamara said after the game. “Just what we did before the game and during the game. Coop’s touchdown not being a touchdown. Tarik’s touchdown not being a touchdown. And then Jordan’s touchdown actually being a touchdown. All that was just great. It just kept building the momentum, like a story or a movie — how’s it going to end? And we’re glad that it ended the way that it did. I don’t want to think about going 0-3, but it would’ve been ugly here in Chicago, I know that.

“I’d put it top two right after the Super Bowl win my rookie year.”

Oh really? Amukamara is referring, there, to Super Bowl XLVI, in which the New York Giants defeated the New England Patriots with a game-winning touchdown drive in the final minute. That’s pretty lofty company.

The Bears didn’t play championship-quality football Sunday, and it’s not apparent that they’ll come close to doing so at any point this season. But give them credit for overcoming plenty, much of it their own doing, and winning a game few outside Halas Hall expected them to win.

Cooper’s bone-headed play stands out if only because it was absolutely incomprehensible. Special-teams ace Sherrick McManis blocked a Steelers field goal in the waning seconds of the first half. Cooper picked the ball up and sprinted the length of the field toward the end zone, only to inexplicably stop inside the 10-yard line, allowing the ball to get swatted out of his hands. No touchdown. A Steelers penalty prolonged the half one more play — the Steelers had to come back out of the locker room — but Charles Leno committed a false-start penalty. No touchdown. The Bears settled for a field goal on an unbelievable sequence that looked almost sure to come back to bite them.

When Howard’s third-quarter fumble turned into a Steelers touchdown and a Mike Glennon interception turned into a Steelers field goal, the Bears’ 10-point halftime lead was gone. Surely this would drench their parade, right? But the defense kept doing its thing. A Steelers offense that is high-powered at times thanks to its Big Three of Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown was well subdued by the Bears defense. Bell rushed for just 61 yards.

The Bears tried driving for a game-winning score in the fourth quarter, stringing together a nightmare sequence in which Cohen fumbled (recovered by the Bears), Glennon nearly threw a pick (dropped by the defensive back Mike Mitchell) and a snap went sailing by Glennon’s legs (he picked it up and threw it away). But disaster was again averted as the defense stepped up one more time, with Willie Young sacking Roethlisberger on the final play of regulation to melt the game into overtime.

The Bears made a lot of mistakes. But they won.

“It’s tremendous for us to be able to overcome those things because we were definitely shooting ourselves in the foot,” Cohen said. “As you saw last week, we shot ourselves in the foot, and it didn’t end too well for us. To battle and overcome those mistakes, it’s a great thing.”

“It was seriously a great win,” Glennon said. “Just finding a way to win against a really good football team is the goal every week. We found a way, it was kind of unique. We had turnovers, the blocked kick, overtime with Tarik’s run being called back, it was a whirlwind of emotions but I thought we handled it really well. At the end of the day, all that matters is that we won.”

While Glennon didn’t win over many more fans Sunday — he threw for just 101 yards and completed one pass to a wide receiver the entire game — he sure is right about that.

While Week 2’s trip to Tampa was a disaster in all phases with some high-profile mistakes from the highest-profile position on the field, you could certainly argue that the mistakes Sunday were as bad and as frequent.

But the difference between last week and this week was the Bears playing well enough elsewhere to make up for those mistakes — this time in the face of some competition annually regarded as some of the best the NFL has to offer.

Glennon wasn’t great. Cooper screwed up bad. Howard fumbled. The refs called back Cohen’s touchdown run. And the president put every player in the NFL in a position they didn’t want to be in. But the Bears kept going. And this time they made the plays that got them a win.

“They’ve given us everything they had in all three games they’ve played,” John Fox said. “We just made some errors in the other ones that we weren’t able to overcome. We’ve had opportunities, but it was nice to get the win today.”

Can facing the Lions for the second time benefit Mitchell Trubisky?

USA Today

Can facing the Lions for the second time benefit Mitchell Trubisky?

The Bears’ trip to Detroit this weekend carries a little extra intrigue for Mitchell Trubisky, not only because he’s coming off the best game of his career but because it represents his first opportunity to play a team for the second time in a season. 

Trubisky completed 18 of 30 passes for 179 yards with a touchdown, 53 rushing yards and a lost fumble on Nov. 19 against the Detroit Lions at Soldier Field. It was a decent game for the rookie quarterback punctuated by his 19-yard scramble on fourth down that set up Connor Barth’s missed game-tying field goal. 

That game was always going to be something on which Trubisky could build going into Saturday’s date with the Lions at Ford Field, though it doesn’t necessarily give him an edge in facing the same defense twice, offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said. 

“There’s a record of how that defensive coordinator played you for the first time,” Loggains said. “… We get a lot of different coverages the first time playing a rookie quarterback, and with our run game, people trying to stop those things. Now for the first time he’s going to get to see a defensive coordinator twice. He’s obviously going to be able to study how they played him last time.”

Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin — who’s been the recipient of some head coaching buzz — will likely give Trubisky a different look this weekend than he did in mid-November. But as opposed to Trubisky’s previous nine starts, in which defenses frequently showed him looks they hadn’t put on tape before, the Bears’ rookie will at least have a general idea of the tendencies of his opponent based on experience. 

For what it’s worth, Carson Wentz generally had more success when facing an opponent for the second time in a season as a rookie last year. His passer ratings in those six games against divisional opponents:

Washington: 77.7, 86.7
Dallas: 91.4, 93.7
New York: 64.5, 70.1

If the same happens for Trubisky on Saturday, it would represent another step in the right direction in his long-term growth. 

“It will be good because we’ve got a lot of film on them especially from the matchup we played them,” Trubisky said. “So preparation is very important this week, just getting a good tell on them, what they’ve been running.  So really first, second down and third down is going to be crucial. We want to stay on the field to again convert third downs and come away with more points. Last time a couple times the penalties got us and that one turnover. 

“So we’re just going to take care of the football and play our game and hopefully we can take all of the positives we did from the last game and carry them over to this game coming up.”

Devin Hester leaves more than Bears, NFL records behind


Devin Hester leaves more than Bears, NFL records behind

This isn’t about Devin Hester and the Hall of Fame (can we say, “gimme?” As longtime pigskin scribe Ira Miller once said of that standard, “If they wrote the history of pro football, would they have to mention you by name?” Hester, yes, obviously). It’s about the guy, one of the quiet gentle spirits you feel fortunate to have had come through your work life.

Like so many things, when you think of Devin Hester, you get a collection of snapshots, really fun ones in this case. Well, mostly fun; sometimes “fun” doesn’t totally apply when you’re thinking about the end of something that made your Bears Sundays, well, fun.

Snapshots like…

…knowing you didn’t leave the TV when punting situations came for opponents, or didn’t take too long getting back to your seat when Devin was going to return a kickoff. Those were plays when fans sometimes dawdled in the kitchen. Before Devin…

…the touchdown return to start the 2006 Super Bowl, one of those moments with an almost cartoon quality, the roadrunner moving like someone had hit the fast-forward button for one guy and left the other 21 on the field looking like they were running in peanut butter…

…talking to Devin about whether he could put into words a kind of genius that nobody else had. What did he see, what was he thinking as he made one of those returns that simply defied human physics. He thought for a second, then just sort of laughed and said simply, “I see colors. I run away from the ones that aren’t mine.” Simple, right?...

…the Bears announcing that GM Jerry Angelo had used a second-round pick in the 2006 draft on a cornerback out of Miami. Only Hester wasn’t really a cornerback, wasn’t really anything just because he could do so many things well – returner, DB, receiver, running back – that his coaches moved him around. So what did the Bears really get? That, no one could have remotely predicted…

…the emotion that included tears when Devin learned that the Bears had gotten rid of Lovie Smith, the only coach Hester had played for. When you think pro football as being just a business, guess again. Devin had to be talked out of quitting the game that day, and it really was never quite the same for him after that, in Atlanta, Baltimore or Seattle…

…how Devin took the shredding for his shortcomings as a receiver and heard how Smith and the coaches were blasted for making him into something he wasn’t. That wasn’t the whole story, of course; the Bears wanted the football in his hands more, Devin and his agent wanted to lift the money ceiling that came with being “just a returner,” so Angelo worked out a very fair deal that was back-loaded with escalators to pay Devin $10 million over each of the last two years of the contract if he hit certain performance triggers. He didn’t, but trashing the kid for wanting to grab for the brass ring never made sense…

…the fun factor. Devin would go back to receive a kickoff and every fan in the end zone seats of Soldier Field was standing. And Devin was having a ball with it, to the point where you absolutely knew that if Devin Hester decided to run instead into Lake Michigan, all he’d have to do would be wave his arm for all the kids to join him and they’d have followed the Pied Piper about anywhere he wanted to go…

that would include Canton.