Bears hang on to top Lions, earn first win of the year


Bears hang on to top Lions, earn first win of the year

The countdown has ended at 364 days.

In danger of going a full calendar year without a victory at Soldier Field, the Bears mercifully put an end to that streak as they defeated the Detroit Lions, 17-14, on Sunday afternoon. The win also snapped a a six-game losing streak to their NFC North rival with the previous win coming in Lovie Smith's final game as head coach of the Bears on Dec. 30, 2012.

Starting at quarterback for the second-straight game due to Jay Cutler's sprained thumb, Brian Hoyer (28/36, 302 yards, two touchdowns) had the Bears offense clicking on all cylinders from the outset. In their second series, Hoyer engineered a 10-play, 83-yard scoring drive as he completed passes to three different wide receivers. Hoyer capped off the drive when he escaped the pocket and kept the play alive with his mobility before setting his feet and finding Eddie Royal for a four-yard touchdown score.

The Bears defense forced the Lions to go three-and-out on three of their first four possessions before a Matt Prater 50-yard field goal gave the Lions their first score of contest midway through the first half. Despite being dominated in the first half, the Lions stole some momentum after Bears kicker Connor Barth missed a 50-yard field goal attempt wide right — ironically on the same day former Bears kicker Robbie Gould's picture was featured on the gameday ticket — late in the second quarter. Following Barth's miss, the Lions marched deep into Bears territory for a possible go-ahead score, but Matt Stafford was picked off by Jacoby Glenn to close out the first half. 

Coming out of the break, the Lions quickly moved the ball down to the Bears' one-yard line, but were stuffed on consecutive running attempts before having to settle for a Prater chip shot, 21-yard field goal. 

The Bears responded immediately when Hoyer connected with Royal for a 64-yard reception to put the Bears in scoring position. Just three plays later, Hoyer found tight end Zack Miller for a six-yard touchdown reception to give the Bears a 14-6 lead.

Bears rookie cornerback Deiondre' Hall all but sealed the victory when he picked off Stafford with under five minutes remaining with the Lions deep in Bears territory,

The Bears offense got a boost from rookie running back Jordan Howard, who made his first career NFL start. Howard finished the game with 111 yards on 23 carries and also hauled in three receptions for 21 yards. 

Royal notched his first career 100-yard receiving game with the Bears as he had seven receptions for 111 yards and a touchdown.

Hoyer, who moved his record to 16-12 as a starting quarterback, completed passes to seven different wide receivers. 

Wide receiver Kevin White left Sunday's game with a left ankle injury. Before departing, White had six receptions for 55 yards.

The Bears will look for consecutive victories when they travel to Indianapolis to take on the Colts in Week 5.

Roquan Smith helps shear a sheep at Bears community event

Roquan Smith helps shear a sheep at Bears community event

Roquan Smith has more sheared sheep than tackles on his stat sheet as a pro football player.

Smith and several other Bears rookies participated in a hands-on community event at Lambs Farm in Libertyville, Illinois on Monday where he assisted farm staff with the sheep's grooming. Smith said it was a first for him despite growing up around animals. 

"It's like on the norm for me though, playing linebacker you're in the trenches," Smith said of the experience.

"Shaving a sheep, I never really envisioned myself doing something like that," Smith said via "I was around animals [growing up], but it was more so cows and goats here and there and dogs and cats. I've petted a sheep before, but never actually flipped one and shaved one."

Bears rookies got up close and personal with more than just sheep.

Smith was selected with the eighth overall pick in April's draft and will assume a starting role opposite Danny Trevathan at inside linebacker this season. Here's to hoping he can wrangle opposing ball-carriers like a sheep waiting to be sheared.

The Bears' defense is ahead of its offense, but Matt Nagy doesn't see that as a problem

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The Bears' defense is ahead of its offense, but Matt Nagy doesn't see that as a problem

Asking players about how the defense is “ahead” of the offense is a yearly right of passage during OTAs, sort of like how every baseball team has about half its players saying they’re in the best shape of their life during spring training. So that Vic Fangio’s defense is ahead of Matt Nagy’s offense right now isn’t surprising, and it's certainly not concerning. 

But Nagy is also working to install his offense right now during OTAs to build a foundation for training camp. So does the defense — the core of which is returning with plenty of experience in Fangio’s system — being ahead of the offense hurt those efforts?

“It’s actually good for us because we’re getting an experienced defense,” Nagy said. “My message to the team on the offensive side is just be patient and don’t get frustrated. They understand that they’re going to play a little bit faster than us right now. We’ll have some growing pains, but we’ll get back to square one in training camp.”

We’ll have a chance to hear from the Bears’ offensive players following Wednesday’s practice, but for now, the guys on Fangio’s defense have come away impressed with that Nagy’s offense can be. 

“The offense is a lot … just very tough,” cornerback Prince Amukamara said. “They’re moving well. They’re faster. They’re throwing a lot of different looks at us and that’s just Nagy’s offense. If I was a receiver I would love to play in this offense, just because you get to do so many different things and you get so many different plays. It just looks fun over there.”

“They’re moving together, and I like to see that,” linebacker Danny Trevathan said. “We’re not a bad defense. They’re practicing against us, so they’re getting better every day, and vice versa. It’s a daily grind. It’s going to be tough, but those guys, they got the right pieces. I like what I see out there. When somebody makes a play, they’re gone. Everybody can run over there. It’s the right fit for Mitch, it’s the right fit for the receivers, the running backs.”

Still, for all the praise above, the defense is “winning” more, at least as much as it can without the pads on. But the offense is still having some flashes, even as it collectively learns the terminology, concepts and formations used by Nagy. 

And that leads to a competitive atmosphere at Halas Hall, led by the Bears’ new head coach. 

“He’s an offensive coach and last year coach (John) Fox, I couldn’t really talk stuff to (him) because he’s a defensive coach and it’s like Nagy’s offense so if I get a pick or something, I mean, I like to talk stuff to him,” Amukamara said. “He’ll say something like ‘we’re coming at you 2-0.’ Stuff like that. That just brings out the competition and you always want that in your head coach.”