CHICAGO – The Bears limped into the playoffs Sunday in more ways than one.
Yes, they earned the No. 7 seed in the NFC and a matchup with the New Orleans Saints in next week’s Wild Card round – thanks to a Rams win over the Cardinals. But they did so following a 35-16 loss to the Green Bay Packers.
And they did so while also losing two of their best players to injury. Linebacker Roquan Smith left the game with an elbow injury, and left the Bears defense exposed. Later, rookie receiver Darnell Mooney injured his ankle and limped off the turf at Soldier Field.
[Read more: Matt Nagy: No update on Roquan Smith’s elbow injury]
Bears head coach Matt Nagy didn’t provide any updates on either players’ status after the game.
Mooney has been a revelation this year as a rookie, a solid find in the fifth round of the 2020 draft. He set the Bears’ rookie record for receptions. With 11 more catches on Sunday, he finished his season with 61 receptions. The previous rookie record was 45, set way back in 1954 by Harlon Hill.
Mooney was also playing his best game of the season on Sunday. He made a beautiful leaping catch on a 53-yard pass from quarterback Mitch Trubisky midway through the third quarter that led to a Bears’ field goal.
His 11 catches were a new career high, as were his 93 receiving yards.
This season, he cemented himself as the Bears’ No. 2 receiver been Allen Robinson. His 61 catches for 631 yards were second on the Bears behind only Robinson’s 102 catches for 1,250 yards.
“What we had in the plan for Mooney to get the ball, early on they were just giving us looks that were more advantageous to go to Mooney than to [Robinson],” Trubisky said. “Mooney took advantage of his opportunities and made some big plays for us.”
With the Bears down by only five points early in the fourth quarter and driving into Packers territory, Mooney caught a pass from Trubisky out to the left. Mooney evaded multiple defenders before taking a hard hit from Packers safety Adrian Amos.
Mooney stayed down on the field for several minutes before limping off. He took a lengthy stay in the injury tent on the sideline before heading back to the locker room.
The last thing the Bears needed heading into a playoff matchup against the New Orleans Saints is to be down any additional weapons. Mooney’s status is worth keeping an eye on this week.