The Bears raced out to a huge lead against the Cardinals Sunday afternoon at Soldier Field. The script started to get a little too familiar for Chicago when Arizona made a push in the second half but the home team was able to avoid a nightmare before Christmas and sealed the win.
The Bears started the scoring on their second drive of the game. Justin Fields hit Cole Kmet for a 53-yard pass that would eventually set up the quarterback to run it in for a 3-yard touchdown to make it 7-0. They got the ball back and leaned heavily on the running game to double their lead.
Khalil Herbert paid off that possession with an 11-yard touchdown run and got the ball right back after the Cardinals went three-and-out. Kmet pulled down another long pass to get into the red zone but injured his knee on the play and did not make much of an impact after. The ageless Marcedes Lewis grabbed a 1-yard TD throw from Fields to give Chicago a 21-0 advantage.
Kyler Murray responded throwing a 16-yard touchdown to running back James Conner to reduce the deficit to 21-7 at halftime. Matt Prater boomed a 55-yard field goal to start the third quarter and the Bears were only ahead by 11. The offense slowed down with Kmet and D.J. Moore nursing injuries but Cairo Santos celebrated his contract extension with a 49-yard kick to put Chicago back ahead 14 heading into the final period.
Things got too close for comfort when Murray connected with Greg Dortch for a 38-yard touchdown pass halfway through the fourth quarter. Arizona did not convert a two-point conversion but got the ball back with a chance to tie in the final minutes.
The Bears defense stiffened and forced the Cardinals to turn the ball over on downs deep in their own territory. Santos knocked in another FG and Chicago took home a 27-16 victory. (Box score)
Why the Bears Won
They were able to build up a big cushion and then did enough to hang on to it this time. The defense was able hold up despite not getting much help from the offense in the second half.
Things got kind of tense when Arizona got the ball back down eight in the final five minutes of the game. Luckily, Chicago was able to force three straight incompletions to end the drive and finish the win.
Stats That Matter
- Fields had a great first half and did very little after the break. He threw for 170 yards and a touchdown and ran for 97 more and another score.
- Herbert ran for 112 yards on 20 carries and the Bears went for 250 ground yards as a team. It was only the second 100 yard performance for Herbert this season.
- Kmet had four receptions for 107 yards, hopefully his injury is not anything significant.
It was nice that the Bears were able to win that game but it doesn’t really say much one way or another about 2024. It was another inconsistent effort against a pretty bad opponent. What appeared like it could be a blowout victory got too close for comfort in the final quarter, continuing a troubling trend for Matt Eberflus’ squad.
Chicago plays their final home game of the season against the Falcons New Year’s Eve at 12:00pm CT on CBS.