Montgomery suffered a leg injury in the first quarter of the Bears’ victory over the Houston Texans, 23-20, on Sunday at Soldier Field. Herbert, the second-year running back, then powered through for 157 yards and two touchdowns to reach a new career-high.
“I told [Montgomery] that was for him today,” Herbert said following the game.
Montgomery suffered a lower leg injury, head coach Matt Eberflus said postgame. Montgomery is deemed “day-to-day.”
“Always ready,” Herbert said. “Always ready when my time is called. Ready for any opportunity I get; try to make the most of it.”
While it remains to be seen if Montgomery may or may not miss additional time, Herbert isn’t in unknown territory. Last season, he started two games in place of Montgomery, who dealt with a knee injury at the time.
With 11:25 in the third quarter, Herbert ripped off a 52-yard gain, which helped ultimately set-up his 1-yard score to give the Bears a 20-17 lead.
“It was definitely from the coach’s game plan,” guard Teven Jenkins said of the chunk yardage play. “It was the exact look we were running in practice and as soon as [right tackle Larry Borom] recognized it, he called me into a double team and that triggered everybody down the line.
“Everybody knew what the exact assignment was and as soon as the ball was snapped it was exactly like practice. The coaches did a great job of giving us that look.”
The Bears’ passing attack struggled mightily with just 82 net passing yards and inefficient drives, but the success on the ground proved to be the ultimate security blanket for quarterback Justin Fields.
“We just find any way we can win,” Herbert said. “O-Line does a really great job. We’re just trying to find any way we can to win and that’s what we were able to do today.”
Although much of the spotlight can be shined on Fields’ shoulders for the passing struggles, Eberflus shifted blame across the entire unit.
“It’s always all 11. You can never just point to one guy,” Eberflus said. “I don’t believe that. I don’t think you do that. I don’t think that’s the answer, and it never is. It’s everybody. So it’s the protection and it’s the route combinations being in sync and it’s everything.”
Santos knocks in game-winner: When the Bears punted back to the Texans with just under two minutes remaining in Sunday’s game, kicker Cairo Santos sought out his defensive teammates. Santos just wanted a chance.
“I was just telling the guys I saw on defense, ‘Get a punch, get a punch, get a punch,’” Santos said. “It was important for us to try to get the ball back and get into field goal range, but we got a pick, which was even sweeter.”
Linebacker Roquan Smith got more than a punch at the ball. He intercepted a pass from Texans QB Davis Mills and returned it to the Houston 12-yard line. It set up a 30-yard field goal, essentially a chip shot for an NFL kicker, to win the game.
Santos made it as time expired and the Bears celebrated the win on the field.
“I prepare for these situations every week, mentally and physically,” Santos said. “For myself to be able to contribute, as much as other guys on the team contribute, I want to be part of the team as a weapon.”
Jackson’s pick: Safety Eddie Jackson pulled in his second interception of the season on Sunday. Prior to Week 1, it had been two full seasons since the former All-Pro safety had an interception. Now he has two in the span of three weeks.
Jackson gave much of the credit to cornerback Kindle Vildor. The defense was playing without starting cornerback Jaylon Johnson. With Johnson sidelined by a quad injury he suffered this week during practice, Vildor saw much more action than he did in the previous two games.
Vildor gave up a touchdown in coverage early in the game, but rebounded quickly to deflect a pass in the end zone. The ball sailed into the hands of Jackson.
“It was really a tough play for me because they were spread out and the receiver was off the ball and I was trying to press him,” Vildor said. “He just darted in, so I took off running full speed. The quarterback kind of under threw it, so I was able to get my hand on there.”
Jackson caught the pass just before his toes scooted out of bounds.