The Bears closed out their home schedule with a blowout win in their last game of the season at Soldier Field.
A strong defensive performance was the catalyst of their 29-3 win over the Giants on Sunday. With four sacks and four takeaways, the Bears were able to consistently make their presence felt and set their offense up in as positive of a situation as they could.
Here are some of the key takeaways from this week’s victory.
The Bears were able to capitalize on the Giants’ offensive mistakes early, and that set the tone for the rest of the afternoon.
A strip sack on the first offensive play of the game set the Bears up at New York’s 2-yard line, upon which David Montgomery was able to pound the ball in for a touchdown. The Giants got the ball back and threw an interception five plays later, giving the Bears starting field position at the opposing 24-yard line. Darnell Mooney was able to make a leaping grab in the back of the end zone for a touchdown, giving his team a 14-0 lead with 8 minutes left to go in the first quarter.
They stalled a little bit down the stretch offensively, but their performance was just good enough to continually build upon their lead. Andy Dalton took over under center again this week, finishing 18-for-35 with 173 yards, a touchdown and an interception. He struggled with accuracy, and while he proved willing to stretch the field a little bit more with 9 air yards per attempt, his placement was a bit inconsistent. The offense had just one passing play that resulted in a gain of more than 20 yards, and the play-calling didn’t seem to show much confidence in Dalton’s arm.
Still, the passing attack was able to do just enough to move the ball down the field. The same could be said for the run game: it did just enough.
David Montgomery finished with just 2.9 yards per carry, finishing with 64 yards on 22 carries. Much of that lackluster stat-line came at the fault of the offensive line, as the Giants were able to plug up holes and generate pressure in the backfield pretty well in the run game. According to PFF, 43 of Montgomery’s rushing yards came after contact, so he had to fight tooth and nail for every glimpse of an opening he got. He also finished with two touchdowns, marking the fifth time he has had multiple touchdowns in a single game.
The lack of reps beyond the fourth quarter for Teven Jenkins was a bit disappointing, and there’s a chance putting him in over Jason Peters could have opened up some more lanes in the run game. It wasn’t a fantastic outing on the ground for the Bears, but again, they did just enough to come away with the win.
Darnell Mooney was the primary target through the air on Sunday, corralling 7 of his 11 targets for 69 yards and a touchdown as he pushes towards the 1,000-yard mark. Allen Robinson made his return and caught 4 passes for 35 yards, while Cole Kmet had 3 receptions for 25 yards. No pass-catcher other than Mooney truly took on a sizable role in the offense. The passing attack struggled despite a solid day in pass protection by the offensive line.
As has been the case all year, the Bears didn’t have the most explosive offensive output on Sunday. That said, their ability to take advantage of the opportunities presented to them helped secure such a sizable margin of victory.
Mike Glennon is not a good quarterback, and the Bears exploited that to the best of their ability.
Heading into Week 17, the Bears had forced just 6 interceptions, but their defense caught two of Glennon’s 11 passing attempts and forced two fumbles on strip-sacks. Glennon actually fumbled the ball four times, but the Giants were able to recover the ball on two of their fumbles. His struggles forced New York to adopt a run-heavy approach, and while they weren’t awful on the ground, it was difficult to get a substantial drive going with their struggles through the air.
The secondary was rock-solid, allowing just one completion 12 yards through the air. Artie Burns had a strong out with two pass deflections and was reliable in man coverage, while both Tashaun Gipson and Deon Bush picked off passes. Kenny Golladay was completely shut down with no receptions and just one target, and David Sills V was the only wide receiver on the Giants’ roster to catch a pass all afternoon. Though it was against a depleted offense — and the lack of reps for Thomas Graham Jr. was a bit surprising — the secondary still played very well, and both the players and defensive coordinator Sean Desai deserve credit for that.
Chicago took advantage of Glennon’s struggles in the pass-rush, as they brought the quarterback down four times on just 15 dropbacks. Robert Quinn etched his name in Bears franchise history, notching his 18th sack to make him the single-season leader in sacks, as well as the NFL’s leading sack artist as of this writing. He had three pressures on just 14 pass-rushing snaps, including a hit and a hurry with his sack. He also had what would have been half of a sack taken away because of a defensive penalty. Trevis Gipson also took advantage of his opportunities, recording two sacks on just three pass-rushing snaps and bringing him up to 6.5 sacks this season. Angelo Blackson also contributed a sack, as well as two tackles for a loss.
Roquan Smith led the team — as usual — with 9 tackles, giving him 157 tackles with another game left to play. He was able to clean up on a lot of run-game opportunities at the second level, as the defensive line struggled to eat up gaps and hold up their blocks at the line of scrimmage. Saquon Barkley finished the game with 102 yards on 21 carries in a solid outing, even though the Giants’ offense struggled as a whole. Alec Ogletree was another defender who cleaned up scraps for Chicago, finishing with 8 tackles on the afternoon.
Was the Bears’ defensive performance inflated heavily by a poor opposing Giants offense? Probably, but that shouldn’t take away from how well they played. Whenever you hold a team to 3 points and allow a passer rating of literally 0, that’s worth celebrating.
Three and out
3. I’m incredibly happy for Robert Quinn and his record-breaking season this year.
Many doubted him after he struggled to make much of an impact in 2020, myself being one of those doubters. That said, he bounced back from an injury-plagued year in a way that few could have ever imagined. His explosiveness on a week-to-week basis has been phenomenal to watch this year, and his impact on this Bears defense cannot be understated. He has been playing some of the best football of his career at 31 years old, and he deserves all the credit in the world for how he’s played this season.
2. After all the offensive struggles the Bears have had in recent years, it’s nice as a fan to see them be the beneficiaries of poor offensive play from their opponents for a change.
Though maybe not on par with performances the Bears’ defenses had in years like 2018, this was the best their defense has looked in quite some time, and part of that was due to poor play from Glennon. They were able to capitalize on poor decisions and inaccurate passes, and even when the Giants tried to limit how often they threw the ball, Chicago was able to hold up.
1. On a week that lost legendary former Broncos head coach Dan Reeves and John Madden, the former Raiders head coach who would be the voice of football for multiple generations, the Bears community also lost a prominent figure in the form of ESPN reporter Jeff Dickerson.
The team held a moment of silence for Dickerson — as well as Madden — prior to Sunday’s game, and it was nice to see them come away with the way after losing such a prominent figure in Chicago football media. Though losing Dickerson to colon cancer at just 44 only two years after he himself lost his wife to melanoma is a tragic situation, the GoFundMe page for their 11-year-old son Parker has reached over $1 million. Seeing the NFL community come together to support Parker in such a difficult time has been inspiring to watch, and watching the Bears win on that same week is a nice added bonus.
If you haven’t already, please consider donating to Parker’s Fund. Every dollar will be used to support Parker’s education, health and welfare, athletics, and more.