Monday, February 19, 2024

Learning To Win: It Was Ugly But Important

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As the ball off the foot of Mr. Clutch, Cairo Santos, sailed through the uprights, lifting the Bears to their first victory over a divisional opponent since Thanksgiving Day of 2021, you could almost hear the sigh of relief from Bears fans everywhere.



The 2021 game and Monday’s game ended in an eerily similar fashion. In 2021, Cairo Santos kicked a 43-yard field goal as time expired to lift Chicago to a 16-14 victory. This time, Santos again provided the game-winning kick, but the stakes were so much higher.

The Bears were marching late in the 4th quarter, leading 9-3, when an all too familiar disaster happened. After Fields connected with Darnell Mooney for a first down inside the Vikings’ 25-yard line with just under 11 minutes remaining, Chicago was poised to extend their lead to a two-score advantage. After a running play that went nowhere, Fields dropped back to pass on the next play.

Safety Josh Matellus blitzed off the edge and got to Fields just as he ended his three-step drop. Fields grabbed the ball with both hands and started to run up the middle, but LB Danielle Hunter raked across from the left. He was able to knock Fields’ arm off the ball, causing the fumble. Naturally, the Vikings capitalized on the turnover and scored the only touchdown by either team. Minnesota took a 10-9 lead with 5:54 left in regulation.

In a picture-book ending, Fields leads the team on a long drive and hits DJ Moore for a game-winning touchdown with less than ten seconds remaining. But that wouldn’t happen this night. Just five plays into their drive after Minnesota scored to take the lead, Fields tried to scramble for a first down and fumbled again. Minnesota takes over at the Chicago 43-yard line with only 3:28 remaining.

This is where the Bears’ defense had collapsed all season. The Bears had seemingly found another way to lose again.

But on this night, the defense did NOT collapse. The defense forced a three-and-out. Minnesota wisely punts rather than attempting a 61-yard field goal. The Bears’ last chance starts at their 22-yard line. The Bears have no timeouts remaining, and the clock reads 2:29.

Now or never for Justin Fields

Luke Getsy has to put his big-boy pants on and let Fields cook.

A 16-yard pass to Moore. Two-Minute Warning. Fields scrambles to his left for five yards. Designed run for Fileds, good for eight yards and a first down, 1:43 on the clock, and time is winding down. Fields can’t find a receiver and smartly throws the ball away on consecutive plays, leading to the play of the day.

Third down and ten, 1:06 left. Fields hits his drop, steps up, and delivers a laser to Moore at the Minnesota 26. He bulls ahead inside the 15. An incredible play! It was the biggest throw of the night at the biggest time, good for 36 yards. Santos kicks the winning field goal, and the Bears win!

Naysayers want you to believe this game didn’t prove anything. Fields didn’t get the ball in the end zone. Don’t believe them. Justin Fields grew immensely on the night. He didn’t let his two fourth-quarter fumbles bog him down and delivered a game-winning drive.

The Bears head to their bye week, winning four of their last eight games. They finish the season with three home games vs Detroit, Arizona, and Atlanta. Their two away games are at Cleveland and Green Bay.

Regardless of your opinion of Matt Eberflus, he has been a leader. This team has fought tooth and nail EVERY WEEK.

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