January 26, 2021

Bears notes: Robinson not only Bears receiver who stood out Sunday

Plus, Patterson comes up big on special teams, where leader McManis leaves early with injury

Allen Robinson deservedly will earn much of the praise for his dominating six-catch, 131-yard, 1-TD performance in the Bears' victory at Soldier Field Sunday over the New York Giants. He was everything a vulnerable quarterback in Mitch Trubisky looks for in his No. 1 receiver.

It shouldn't obscure from what was perhaps Anthony Miller's best game in a difficult second season, though.

"Coach has certain guys that he wants to do certain stuff, and I just showed up and did my job," said Miller, whose six catches for 77 yards were season highs. "Me and Mitch clicked today.”

For instance, Trubisky finding Miller early in the third quarter while moving to his left and hitting the receiver in stride as he turns upfield on a 22-yard gain, helping to set up Eddy Pineiro for a 24-yard field goal (one of the embattled kicker's two conversions Sunday, though he missed a 48-yard extra point). Or an easy 16-yard pitch and catch to begin the Bears' other field goal drive and cut into a 7-0 lead right before halftime.

No, they weren't as flashy as some of Miller's plays as a rookie second-rounder last season, when he was the Bears' co-leader in TD catches despite playing through a chronic shoulder dislocation. But they didn't have to be Sunday, when a player who's at times struggled with the finer details avoided any obvious mistakes.

"I like that, and I think it kind of shows who they are. You felt our passing game today," Nagy said, referring to the Miller-Robinson tandem. "Every game might be a little bit different and Anthony has done a good job of making sure he understands the route details, just like the Rams with that deeper pass on the comeback pick. And so the more of that we can get, the more it's going to open up other guys, too."

Miller was drafted to be Robinson's sidekick, and though the pair has rarely clicked the way it did Sunday, it offered a glimpse — much like Chicago's increasingly explosive offense — of what the Bears' vision is for their passing offense.

"He did a great job running his routes, getting open and I was just giving him opportunities, so I think the more opportunities you give Anthony, he's going to make plays for this offense, so I've just got to keep finding them," Trubisky said.

Special weapon: Cordarrelle Patterson perhaps hasn't been as advertised on offense, where he didn't garner a touch Sunday and has tallied only 20 touches for 117 yards this season. However, no one doubts the special-teams prowess of the 6-foot-2, 238-pound game breaker, whose 29.9-yard career average ranks second in NFL history. Two of Patterson's seven career house calls have come at Soldier Field, including a 102-yarder in the Week 7 loss to New Orleans.

Just don't mistake his return chops as his only vital contribution to the Bears' third phase.

On a particularly sloppy day for Bears special teams, when the unit's leader Sherrick McManis departed early with a groin injury, Patterson made two critical plays. First, in the second quarter, Patterson saved a potential touchdown by punt returner Jabrill Peppers, whom he corralled at the end of a 40-yard return. Then Patterson downed a 34-yard fourth-quarter punt by Pat O'Donnell at the three-yard line.

The Giants still mounted a 97-yard touchdown drive, but it took time off the clock. And their kicker, Aldrick Rosas, missed a 42-yard field goal following Patterson's earlier clutch tackle.

"I'm glad you brought him up. What he did today on special teams was second to none," Nagy said. "The way that field position flipped, for him to get down there and make those plays, watching him there on the Gunner, running downfield, making plays, and then he made that saving tackle there on the one punt return, I had a click of it, he jumped out of nowhere and made a saving tackle. I really appreciate that."

Injuries: After McManis, Bears RT Bobby Massie departed early with an ankle injury, one week after a back issue prevented him from finishing the game in Los Angeles last Sunday night.