SAN DIEGO – In a 16-game season, pretty much every game is a statement, one way or the other. Monday’s 22-19 comeback win over the San Diego Chargers was indeed one of those.
It isn’t important to be an artistic success, only a success. And the Bears are daring to dream.
The Bears still need to beat someone other than AFC West also-ran’s. But going to St. Louis next weekend, “it definitely could be [a turning point],” said cornerback Tracy Porter, who forced a turnover and delivered a crucial pass breakup on the Chargers’ final drive. This is something to build on. This is just one win. It feels good but we still have a long season ahead of us.
“Our goal is to get to the playoffs. This could definitely be a starting point.”
[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]
After failing to hold off the Detroit Lions and Minnesota Vikings in fourth quarters of consecutive losses, the Bears (3-5) underscored the statements made in similar victories over the Oakland Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs. In those games, the Bears felt they had found an identity as fighters, such that no matter what went wrong in the first 55 or so minutes, they would be standing at the end.
“We’ve been in these types of games for several weeks now,” said tight end Martellus Bennett, who caught eight passes, one for a touchdown in the second quarter. “Everybody knew what it actually takes to win one of these and we were able to do it, make a play. The defense made a play at the end, [the offense] was able to make a drive.
“It was just one of those things. Every single week has been the same thing; we just haven’t been able to make those plays at the end. Today we made those plays.”
"Those plays" on Monday included 142 combined yards by rookie running back Jeremy Langford, with a one-yard TD run and a two-point plunge to put the Bears up by 3 points in the closing minutes.
They didn’t always make "those plays," but maybe that’s the point. The Bears had the football in San Diego’s end of the field on eight of their first nine possessions, yet scored only seven points total from the first six. They missed two field goals for only the third time in Robbie Gould’s 11-year career. They needed 15 points in the fourth quarter, the last coming on an epic one-handed catch by tight end Zach Miller of a Jay Cutler pass for a 25-yard touchdown with less than 4 minutes to play.
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“It’s one of those things where instincts take over,” said Miller, whose last touchdown catch came in 2011 before a run of debilitating injuries. “I really didn’t have time to go with two [hands]. [Cutler] put some juice on it and I had to go get it with one and thankfully pulled it down and made the play when it was needed.”
They then gave themselves a three-point lead when Cutler checked out of a pass play and had rookie Jeremy Langford smash in for two points behind an offensive line delighted at the change of play.
“I don’t know what Jay’s rules were to check to it,” said center Matt Slauson, but as soon as soon as he did, we as a line were all, ‘Yeah, here we go!”
To the playoffs? They think so.