The Chicago Bears were underdogs coming into the game against the Carolina Panthers, but it certainly looked like the visitors were the better team on the field. What wasn’t as clear is why Matt Nagy called the game the way he did, causing this one to be much closer than it should have been.
The Bears defense came to play and really dominated the game, pressuring Teddy Bridgewater and causing him to force things all day. The very first drive for the Panthers ended quickly with a Bears interception deep in Carolina territory. Cole Kmet got his first career NFL touchdown on third and goal to give the Bears an early 7-0 lead.
The Panthers looked good on their first possession of the second half and had the ball on their own 30 yard line following a big third-down conversion. Running back Mike Davis, who was looking for a little vengeance after not getting the ball as much as he would have liked during his time with the Bears, fumbled the ball on the very next play after Eddie Jackson punched it free. Akiem Hicks jumped on the loose ball to give the Bears excellent field position.
Nick Foles responded by throwing his first and only interception of the day on the very next play, an ugly throw he wanted back as soon as he let it go. Jackson thought he’d gotten a pick-six almost immediately after that, but it was called back due to a penalty — the second TD he’s had called back in as many weeks — and the Panthers’ drive continued.
After Carolina missed a field goal, the Bears drove down the field and scored perhaps the biggest touchdown of the game on a Foles QB sneak. They really needed it because their defense finally looked mortal immediately thereafter, committing several head-scratching penalties. Two of those flags were for too many men on the field, both of which resulted in first downs.
The biggest penalty was a questionable pass interference call on cornerback Jaylon Johnson that put the ball on the Bears 1-yard line. Davis punched the ball into the end zone on the next play, cutting the Bears’ lead to 20-13.
After exchanging field goals, the Bears took a 23-16 lead into the final minutes of the game. They could have iced it with a first down, but could not convert on 3rd and two at their own 43. Nagy called for pass play and Foles failed to complete it to Allen Robinson, stopping the clock and giving the Panthers life.
The defense had to step up once again and it did, pressuring Bridgewater and making an easy pick to lock up the win. (Box Score)
Why the Bears Won
The defense swarmed, opening the game with a big interception on the Panthers’ first possession and closing it with yet another big-time pick. Complete dominance.
Sacking Bridgewater on the second play of the game and following it immediately with an interception set the tone for the game.
Stats that Matter
- Foles was pretty efficient and made some nice throws, including the TD pass to Kmet: 23/39,198 yards, 1 TD, 1 Int, 70.2 QB rating
- The running game seemed there for the taking, but Nagy clearly doesn’t believe in it. Montgomery carried the ball 19 times for 58 yards, averaging 3.1 yards per carry.
- Kmet finally got into the flow of a game with two catches and a TD.
- The defense was dominant: four sacks, six tackles for loss, two INTs, and one fumble recovery while holding Bridgewater to 216 yards passing and Mike Davis to 52 yards on 18 carries.
- Bears ended up committing 10 penalties for 92 yards.
There was a lot to unpack in this game, which we’ll do over the next few days as we get the site rolling, but the bottom line is that the Bears got the win and improve to 5-1 on the season. Despite the obvious issues, they keep winning and are undefeated in the NFC.
The Bears take on the Los Angeles Rams on Monday Night Football next week. The game will be broadcast on ESPN at 7:15pm CT.