CHICAGO – Bears quarterback Andy Dalton threw four interceptions and the Arizona Cardinals sunk the Bears on Sunday at Soldier Field.
Arizona, the NFC’s top team, turned the four interceptions into a 33-22 win.
Three moments that mattered
1. Dalton’s first-half interceptions: Dalton was intercepted on each of the Bears’ first two offensive possessions. Wet and slippery conditions probably didn’t help. The first interception went off the hands of receiver Jakeem Grant before Arizona’s Jalen Thompson grabbed it. The throw was behind Grant. The second popped out of tight end Cole Kmet’s hands and fell right into Budda Baker’s bread basket.
The Cardinals scored touchdowns off both interceptions, taking a 14-0 lead.
2. Defensive breakdown: The Bears answered Arizona’s first two touchdowns with a 77-yard drive of their own. David Montgomery punched in a touchdown, cutting the lead to 14-7.
The Bears defense simply couldn’t respond. Murray drove the Cardinals 74 yards and found running back James Conner for a 23-yard touchdown pass midway through the second quarter. Bears defensive back Xavier Crawford missed a tackle badly on the play.
3. Key fourth-quarter drive: Trailing by 10, the Bears defense finally got a stop in the second half, forcing a punt early in the fourth quarter. The offense needed to find points. The ensuing Bears drive appeared to end quickly with the Bears punting from deep in their own territory, but a roughing the kicker penalty gave the Bears a first down.
That gift was short-lived, though. Dalton threw an interception on the very next play. It was his third interception of the game.
Three things that worked
1. Montgomery’s big game: The Bears found some success running the ball Sunday, with Montgomery rushing for 90 yards and a touchdown. It had been a quiet couple of weeks for Montgomery, but Sunday’s wet conditions made running the ball a priority.
2. Roquan Smith’s return: Inside linebacker Roquan Smith injured his hamstring last week against the Detroit Lions. With star outside linebacker Khalil Mack already done for the season, the Bears couldn’t afford to lose another defensive cornerstone. Smith missed two days of practice this week, but still managed to fight through the injury and play on Sunday. Smith led the Bears with eight tackles.
3. Bear weather?: On a gross day at Soldier Field, the wet conditions ruled things early. Murray fumbled twice, but the Cardinals recovered both fumbles. Rainy weather likely hurt the Bears on each of Dalton’s first two interceptions, and definitely on the one Kmet should’ve caught.
This was cliche “Bears weather,” and it didn’t really work in the Bears’ favor.
Three things that didn’t
1. Arizona’s short field position: Dalton’s first two interceptions gave the Cardinals a short field both times. The second one, picked off by Baker, came in Cardinals territory, but Baker’s 77-yard return flipped the field. The Cardinals needed drives of only 28 and 20 yards to go ahead, 14-0, to start the game.
2. Dalton, obviously: The interceptions weren’t all Dalton’s fault. One was dropped by Kmet, another might have been tipped at the line of scrimmage. Still, this was a disastrous performance.
The Bears can’t get Justin Fields back soon enough. This game felt a little less meaningful without Fields starting, and Dalton’s four picks only cemented the fact that the rest of the season is about developing the rookie. Fields, hopefully, will be back healthy soon.
3. The Bears’ receivers: Allen Robinson sat out the game due to a hamstring injury. Marquise Goodwin was out with foot and rib injuries. Without two of their top three pass catchers, the Bears passing attack was limited from the get-go. On a day where the Bears needed a big game out of Darnell Mooney, the second-year receiver went quiet, catching five passes for 27 yards.
Dalton’s top target wound up being the running back, Montgomery, who caught eight passes for 51 yards. Dalton finished his day 26-for-41 passing for 229 yards with two touchdowns and four interceptions.
The Bears will visit Lambeau Field to take on the Green Bay Packers on Sunday Night Football next week.