Well, that certainly felt familiar.
A defense sleep-walking through the first quarter. An offense missing out on scoring opportunities that were set on a tee. A feeling of hopelessness entering halftime facing a double-digit deficit. And the game being played in Glendale, Arizona against a Cardinals team that hadn’t had anything going for it leading into the game was just a little bit too much on the nose … don’t you think?
And yet, despite all odds, the Chicago Bears – pardon me, the first-place Chicago Bears – prevailed. In the desert. Against the Cardinals. Again. Exhale.
The Bears forced four turnovers (three interceptions and a fumble recovery) that led to 13 points, which sparked a come-from-behind 16-14 victory. It’s a formula that’s tried and true. A little bit of good fortune, timely scoring, and a whole heck of a lot of great defense:
Khalil Mack can't stop forcing fumbles!
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) September 23, 2018
Khalil Mack continues to be a godsend. Three games into his Bears career and Mack is bulldozing his way toward another NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award. Mack had five solo tackles, two sacks, a tackle-for-loss, a forced fumble, and three quarterback hits. To be sure, none of this happens without Mack’s excellence and constant tormenting of Cardinals quarterbacks.
Of course, every crazy win comes with some unexpected heroes.
Cornerback Bryce Callahan came away with Josh Rosen’s first NFL interception, a timely grab when the defense desperately needed a turnover:
Sherrick McManis did a thing, too:
Rookie defensive lineman Bilal Nichols coming up with a huge run stuff that’s probably not going to pop up on too many highlight reels, but I’ll be damned if he doesn’t get love here for a big play in a high-leverage moment.
Hey, if your football team is going to be good, it’s going to need some random heroes along the way. And yeah, we should probably include kicker Cody Parkey, who connected on three straight field goals after missing his first attempt of the game.
Against all odds, the Bears won a football game they seemed destined to lose.
Quarterback Mitch Trubisky didn’t look good. In fact, he looked bad for most of the game, save for the one touchdown drive the offense generated in the third quarter. That proved to be a very important drive. Head Coach Matt Nagy made some eyebrow-raising decisions, but his dice rolls helped the Bears keep some drives going, including a key fourth-down conversion on the back of Jordan Howard – who has proved to be the team’s most valuable offensive player so far.
The Bears snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. That’s certainly different than what we’ve become accustomed to seeing in recent years. And on top of that, they moved to the top of the NFC North standings. It wasn’t pretty. And yes, there is a ton of work to do moving forward. But that was exhilarating. Winning feels good. The Bears are in first place and I don’t really care that it’s juuuuust September. That felt special!