For the first time in the month of October, the Bears found themselves back in the win column after a convincing, but sloppy, 24-10 win at Soldier Field. It wasn’t always pretty, but as they say “a win is a win.”
Not only did the Bears snap a two-game losing streak, they went from worst to first over the course of a Sunday afternoon as everyone outside of them within the NFC North lost on Sunday.
All around, it was a good day for a Bears team who saw themselves in last place just a week ago, but most importantly, the defense rebounded on Sunday without their best player in Khalil Mack. The coaching staff made the bold choice to sit both he and receiver Allen Robinson II, even in a must win game. Despite that, the Bears were able to come out and lead for all 60 minutes and do it in a pretty convincing fashion, even if they weren’t playing their best football.
For more on who received Week 8’s game balls, let’s dive in.
RB Tarik Cohen
While they may seem like somewhat of a strange selection, considering Cohen only had six offense touches, trust me when I say it’s not.
The former North Carolina A&T standout had an impressive 70-yard touchdown catch on a screen early in the game, which truly set the tone. The offense sputtered at multiple points during the day, which made that early touchdown a “turning point” of sorts in the first quarter.
Cohen also added another 40 yards on the ground, including a 21-yard burst. All in all, the offense wasn’t overly impressive, but even on limited touches, the 5’6” running back stood out as the team’s best offensive player for what feels like something that has been said almost all year long.
Today’s 110 total offensive yard performance also caps of Cohen’s four straight games with at least 80 offensive yards or more. This also marks the fourth straight game in which he has scored a touchdown, whether that was rushing or receiving, which has already eclipsed his three total offensive touchdowns from 2017.
Cohen’s role is becoming more defined each week, and while head coach Matt Nagy continues to find balance between the two running backs, the second-year player’s role doesn’t appear to be diminishing any time soon.
Honorable Mention: RB Jordan Howard
Nagy spoke at lengths this past week about getting the rushing attack more involved and he stuck to his word on Sunday. Not only did the Bears come away with 179 rushing yards, but Howard was one-yard short of tying his season high in rushing yards, with 81 on Sunday.
It’s been a struggle for the Bears all season to get a consistent attack from their pair of running backs, namely Howard, but in a game where it was cold, windy and wet, Nagy’s commitment to Howard (22 carries) was evident and much needed.
The Bears ended up winning the time of possession battle (32:44) and a lot of that was due to Howard’s ability to gain positive yardage more often than not. His biggest damage of the day came in the team’s final scoring drive when he rushed for 30 yards on three carries, which was capped off by a thrashing two-yard touchdown run to put them up 24-10.
All in all, this was exactly the type of day Howard needed and the hope is that as the weather gets colder, his involvement and effectiveness will continue to grow.
CB Bryce Callahan
Last year, the Bears had an impending free agent cornerback playing like a stud in Kyle Fuller. This year, it’s been Callahan and he showed up in a big way in Sunday’s win.
The former undrafted free agent tallied three pass breakups, a sack, a quarterback hit and four tackles. To say he was their best defender on Sunday would be stating the obvious, and it’s about time general manager Ryan Pace seriously considers trying to lock him down before he hits the open market in March.
Callahan’s durability has always been his biggest question but with the injury of Prince Amukamara earlier in the year, the 27-year-old has shown his versatility and effectiveness comes hand in hand.
On Sunday, not only did Callahan rack up impressive numbers in coverage, he ended up playing all but one snap. Long story short, Callahan may not only be one of the better nickel backs in the league, but he could be an eventual replacement on the outside for either Amukamara or Fuller in a few years.
It was a stand out performance from Callahan and not his first one on the year, but those pass breakups came at key times in the game to get the defense off the field, and for that he gets the defensive game ball for Week 8.