With their five-game losing streak on the forefront after a turbulent week at Halas Hall, Andy Dalton and the Bears pulled out a nail-biter, 16-14, over the Detroit Lions with a game-winning field goal Thursday in Detroit. Here’s what you need to know:
Three moments that mattered
1. Something to be thankful for: With 20 seconds remaining and down 14-13, Bears kicker Cairo Santos had a game-winning 28-yard attempt. It was good, which finally halted a five-game losing streak. Considering the bizarre week leading up to kickoff, particularly with erroneous reports on Matt Nagy’s job security moving forward, it is a breath in Nagy’s sails.
2. Here we go again: With 1:46 left in the third quarter, Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff threw a 17-yard touchdown to tight end TJ Hockenson. With the extra point, the Lions took the lead, 14-13, and put the pressure back on the Bears. Suddenly, Cairo Santos’ missed 53-yard field goal loomed larger. But, don’t forget during the 79-yard drive: Bears linebacker Christian Jones had a crucial unnecessary roughness penalty to aid it.
3. Roquan Smith: The Bears’ tremendous linebacker was just days off a 17-tackle performance, but he was eventually ruled out for the second half Thursday following a hamstring injury. The severity of the injury is generally unknown immediately following a game, but Smith – who had 106 combined tackles entering Thursday – is by far their most important piece defensively with Mack done for the season. The Bears will be hoping for the best. If not, it will be up to Alec Ogletree.
Three things that worked
1. Third-and-9: With 1:54 left in the game, facing a third-and-9 on the Lions’ 16, consecutive timeouts were called by the Lions, which it resulted in a 5 free yards and the Lions losing their second timeout. Dalton then hit Damiere Byrd for a first down. Sometimes, what works, is simply by virtue of the opposing team’s own ineptitude. For once, it benefited Nagy instead of him instigating it.
2. Red Rifle: To be reasonably fair, it’s not easy to prepare for a football game – on a short week – with as uncertain of a few days as the the Bears had within Halas Hall. Dalton, filling in for Justin Fields with the ribs injury, played well overall: 24 for 39 with 317 yards. It’s a low, low bar to clear, but he did have his second game of over 200 yards passing this season in his third start and his 30th career game of over 300 yards passing. Dalton had a very traditional Dalton game: Decent, but nothing spectacular.
3. Mooney on the money: Whether it’s Dalton or Fields throwing him the ball, the former fifth rounder simply gets results. Mooney has been the Bears’ true No. 1 receiver this season, regardless of what the depth chart says. With Allen Robinison out, Mooney’s presence on the field became all the more important. Mooney had five catches for 123 yards for his second consecutive 100-yard-plus performance.
Three things that didn’t
1. Didn’t get home: The Bears, who were able to generate six sacks last week against Baltimore, hardly pressured Goff as much as they needed to, sacking him just once. Goff, who potentially was not going to play this week, had a perfect completion percentage until midway through the second quarter and only had four incompletions all game.
2. Where’s Waldo? (David Montgomery): After Montgomery ran for 106 yards in their first meeting, Montgomery was limited to 12 yards rushing on five carries in the first half. It, at least somewhat, wasn’t all because of what the Lions did. Nagy and offensive coordinator Bill Lazor didn’t prioritize their top back while Dalton had 26 first-half pass attempts. The odd run-pass balance – from the 2018 and 2019 seasons – reared its head again, but Montgomery did finish with 46 yards.
3. CB2: Artie Burns started in place of corner Kindle Vildor, who has struggled mightily in recent weeks. While no play stands out as a true negative, Burns didn’t appear to distinguish himself from his predecessor, pointing to the Bears’ need for an upgrade next season regardless.
The Bears host the Arizona Cardinals at noon Dec. 5.