Bears strike fast, finish strong in win over Commanders

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The Bears didn’t need the sad passing of legendary Hall of Fame linebacker Dick Butkus to help motivate them to play the Washington Commanders on Thursday.

With the 14-game losing streak looming large, not to mention an utter collapse this past Sunday against the Broncos, the distraction of Chase Claypool being sent home from the team, and head coach Matt Eberflus scrambling to also fill the additional roles of defensive coordinator and PR guy, the Bears had enough motivation to get off the schneid in front of a prime time audience on Thursday Night Football.

But the spirit of the former Bears great loomed large over FedEx Field in Maryland, as the Bears hung 40 points on the Commanders in a 40-20 victory on Thursday. It wasn’t quite the 51 points many were hoping for to honor Butkus’ jersey number, but it at least was the number of Butkus’ former running mate, Gale Sayers, who was selected in the same draft as Butkus and died just three years ago.

Justin Fields and DJ Moore, who both had terrific games, honored the Bears legend after the game, with Fields noting that they played that game for him.

As per the action on the field, Bears fans had a lot to feel good about. For the second-straight game, the Bears offense looked terrific in the first half. Fields led a 6-play, 75-yard touchdown drive on the first series of the game. He connected with Moore for a 58-yard strike as well as a 20-yard score.

After a three-and-out generated by the defense, the Bears offense engineered an 11-play, 70-yard drive on their next possession, tacking on a field goal to take a 10-0 lead. And then after another three-and-out, Fields led another touchdown drive, this one a 6-play, 69-yard jaunt that culminated in another Moore touchdown reception.

At this point, the Bears had a commanding, 17-0 lead and it had the makings of a rout early in the second quarter.

The Bears and Commanders traded field goals before the Bears added one more touchdown, a 4-yard strike to Cole Kmet, giving them a 27-3 lead heading into halftime.

At this point, Bears fans who had vivid memories of this past Sunday’s game weren’t about to get too comfortable with that lead.

When the Commanders opened the second half with a touchdown drive, immediately followed by two consecutive punts by the Bears, panic started to creep in.

But I kept telling Bears fans not to fret. This was not Sunday’s game, and I wasn’t going to worry unless the Commanders made it a one-score game.

The two teams then traded field goals, which kept the Bears ahead by two touchdowns and two 2-point conversions.

Washington opened the fourth quarter with a 12-play, 75-yard touchdown drive but failed to convert the 2-point conversion, keeping the Bears up by two scores, and still keeping me confident that they were going to win that game.

After a three-and-out by the Bears offense on the ensuing drive, the Commanders drove down the field once again, threatening to bring the game within a single score by kicking a field goal. Fortunately for the Bears, Joey Slye missed a 46-yard field goal and the two-score game remained.

Three plays later for the Bears, Moore caught his third touchdown of the game, a 56-yard catch-and-run score after the defender tried to jump the route. That touchdown pretty much cemented the win for the Bears, and they added a field goal later for good measure.

The win was emotional for many Bears players, but was surely a major relief for Eberflus, who has been under heavy fire since the beginning of the season. I thought there was a decent chance that he could get fired if the Bears lost in an embarrassing fashion again on national TV, especially with the mini-bye upon us. Instead, the Bears players proved that Eberflus hasn’t lost the locker room and that the offense does appear to be building something special.

What the offense did against the Broncos could be shrugged off as a bad defense giving the Bears whatever they wanted. But the Commanders don’t have a bad defense. They’re not great, but certainly better than the Broncos are.

This should give Bears fans cause for hope and optimism. No, this team is not likely to come back and make the playoffs — even though they’re far from being mathematically eliminated from contention, three games out of first with 12 to go. But this year is all about building up their young talent base and also determining if the team should pick up Fields’ fifth-year option.

And after Fields’ 339 total yards — 282 passing and 57 rushing — plus his second-straight game with four passing touchdowns, the quarterback is showing some reasons to warrant his option being picked up.

And that is a major positive in a season of mostly negative.

Former high school and college kicker. Lifelong Chicago Bears fan. I've been writing about the navy blue and burnt orange since 2007. You can follow on Twitter, like it on Facebook, or email me.