Maybe one of these days the Bears will figure out how to string together a complete game. After waiting until the fourth quarter in Week 1 to show up, the Bears managed just one good half in Week 2.
The Bears defeated the New York Giants, 17-13, on Sunday to start the season 2-0 for the first time since 2013. For the second straight week, the offense played inconsistently and the defense bent considerably without breaking. But just like last week against the Lions, the defense made a red zone stop as time expired to secure the win.
Bears offense comes out humming in first half
Unlike last week, the Bears didn’t wait until the fourth quarter to get the offense going. From the first drive of the Giants game, the offense was clicking.
Mitch Trubisky led the offense on a 12-play, 82-yard drive that ended with a 28-yard catch-and-run touchdown by David Montgomery. Trubisky completed 4-of-4 passes for 62 yards and the score on that drive. The Bears also continued to show commitment to the run game with 7 carries for 21 yards.
After a strip-sack ended the Giants’ first drive, the Bears tacked on a field goal to take a 10-0 lead into the second quarter.
Following a 6-play drive and a 5-play drive that both ended in punts, the Bears offense went back to work midway through the second quarter. Trubisky engineered another 11-play, 80-yard drive that concluded with a 15-yard touchdown strike to rookie Darnell Mooney. Trubisky bought himself some time in the pocket, allowing Mooney to come back to the ball in the end zone and beat his defender.
From there, however, things would go south for the offense. They wouldn’t score again the rest of the game.
Second half struggles allow Giants to climb back into the game
Due to several time-consuming drives by the Giants offense in the second half, the Bears had just four offensive possessions in quarters three and four. The result of those were two interceptions, a punt and a missed field goal.
Not exactly encouraging progress for an offense that looked in tune in the first half.
On the first interception, Trubisky threaded the ball in between multiple defenders to Allen Robinson. The defender cut in front of Robinson and picked it off. The Giants offense got points off the turnover, tacking on a field goal.
On the second interception, Trubisky again looked for Robinson down the sideline. Whether it was an under-thrown lead pass or a poorly thrown back-shoulder, I don’t know. Either way, the ball was in Robinson’s hands but the defender ripped it away for the interception.
The Bears did string together a good final drive in the middle of the fourth quarter. The offense ran 12 plays and picked up 44 yards in 5:41. David Montgomery pounded out runs of 11, 10, 9, and 23 yards on that drive.
The Bears also converted on a critical fourth down play when Trubisky tried to fire a pass to Jimmy Graham, who was covered by two defenders. The ball deflected into the air and landed into the arms of right tackle Bobby Massie, who fell forward and picked up the first down.
However, Cairo Santos’ 50-yard field goal attempt sailed wide left and the Bears gave the ball back to the Giants to make a final attempt at a game-winning drive.
Bears defense makes second-straight red zone stop to clinch game
As the Giants engineered their two-minute drive, I had visions of the Lions game dancing through my head. In that one, rookie running back D’Andre Swift dropped the game-winning touchdown pass in the end zone. The Bears won the game on the next play when Jaylon Johnson swatted away the final pass as time expired.
This week, on the final drive, Giants quarterback Daniel Jones marched his offense right down the field as he had been doing regularly throughout the second half.
With four seconds remaining and the ball at the 10-yard-line, Jones threw a pass to Golden Tate at the goal line that sailed incomplete. A penalty flag was thrown on the play, but it was Tate who pushed off and was called for offensive pass interference. The Bears once more held on for a thrilling victory.
Bears defense a little alarming through two weeks
A win is a win and I will not complain about a 2-0 record. But what I’ve seen from the Bears defense through two weeks is a little alarming. This is especially true for Bears fans, like myself, who have been hoping for a result that looked more like 2018 than 2019.
This Bears defense, with the addition of Robert Quinn and a healthy return of Akiem Hicks, had the makings of a Top 5 defense in the NFL. But through two weeks, they look more like they did in 2019’s disappointing campaign than they did in 2018’s terrific run.
Obviously, it’s still early and there was no offseason to gel together. But the Bears are 16th in yards per game allowed. Normally, I don’t put much stock into yards allowed because yards don’t win games. Points do. And as of now, the Bears are third in points allowed with 18 per game.
However, with an offense that isn’t exactly the Kansas City Chiefs, the Bears need as many opportunities to score as possible. And if the Bears defense keeps allowing time-consuming drives to chew up the clock, that’s putting an awful lot of pressure on their own offense to be super efficient.
Robinson had a bad day
Contrary to some of the Bears’ biggest detractors, I don’t envision general manager Ryan Pace sitting up in his box, fingers pressed together like Mr. Burns from The Simpsons, saying “Excellent!” while watching Allen Robinson have a bad day.
I know the Bears and Robinson are in the middle of tough contract negotiations, but nobody wants to see the Bears’ top receiver struggle.
Robinson caught just three passes for 33 yards on 9 targets. But it wasn’t just the statistics that were far below his standards. Robinson also got out-worked on the two Trubisky interceptions.
On the first one, the defender jumped in front of him to force the interception. That just can’t happen. As a receiver, it’s your duty to come back to the ball, or at least prevent the defender from crossing your face.
The second interception was even more egregious. The ball was in Robinson’s breadbasket when the Giants’ defender just ripped the ball away from him. He wanted it more than Robinson, period.
For the record, I don’t think a game like this diminishes Robinson’s value. Nor will it cause the Bears to deduct hundreds of thousands off their contract offer to Robinson. But when the Bears offense has such little margin for error, they need their best weapon to step up and play better than he did on Sunday.
Bears have first big test next Sunday against Falcons
Don’t get me wrong, the Lions and Giants definitely provided tests for the Bears. Those two opponents were not pushovers and the Bears barely escaped with victories. But in context, those two teams really aren’t that good.
That makes next week’s game against the Falcons an even bigger test for the Bears.
The Falcons are 0-2 and are coming off a serious letdown against the Cowboys. According to ESPN Stats & Information, “teams were 1,875-6 when leading by 15 or more points in the final five minutes of regulation over the past 20 seasons.” The Falcons became just the 7th team to blow that kind of lead. So you know they’re going to be ticked off when the Bears come to town on Sunday.
The Falcons will also prove to be a difficult test for this Bears’ bend-but-don’t-break defense. Atlanta is ranked No. 4 in total yards per game and No. 6 in points per game with 32. How the Bears’ offense manages to score anywhere near that is beyond me. The Falcons have allowed the most points in the league, though, so there’s at least hope.
Two wins is great. It isn’t easy to win in the NFL, so take them as they come. But I also predicted them to be 2-0 at this point when the schedule was first released, so nothing out of the ordinary has happened yet.
Come Sunday, we’ll get a good idea of just how good this Bears team might be.