It's a Thanksgiving miracle! The Chicago Bears finally snapped their five-game losing streak on Thursday afternoon. Once again, a Bears game came down to the waning moments, ultimately won by a razor-thin margin. This time it was a 16-14 victory over the now 0-10-1 Detroit Lions. It was a battle of two woeful teams that refused to grab control of the game -- not exactly what all of America wanted to see to start their Thanksgiving. However, it was best to get this game out of the way early.
Matt Nagy got off the schneid in this contest, hopefully putting a rough week of rumors, "Fire Nagy" chants, and criticism behind him. Regardless, the Bears won a rather ugly game on a short week and improved their record to 4-7, which is a much better place to be than 3-8. However, it's still not a great spot to be in for a head coach who's on the hot seat. The now four-win Bears have recorded half of their victories against the lowly Lions.
Without further ado, here are the main takeaways from an ugly win over the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving.
A 34-year-old Andy Dalton filled in for an injured Justin Fields on a short week and delivered. Well, kind of. Dalton managed the game fairly well and made a couple of big throws interspersed thought the game, including this dime to Darnell Mooney.
That catch by Mooney set up a Jimmy Graham touchdown reception on the following play.
Graham's score capped off a two-play, 69-yard drive in just 52 seconds. However, along with these nice passes, Dalton got away with throwing a few ducks as well. Of course, one of those throws resulted in an interception.
The Bears' game plan against the Lions was very pass-happy as Dalton attempted 39 passes. He posted the following stat line:
- Completions: 24
- Attempts: 39
- Completion %: 61.5
- Yards: 317
- Yards/Attempt: 8.1
- Touchdowns: 1
- Interceptions: 1
- Quarterback Rating: 85.1
On the ground, Dalton lost seven yards on one sack and carried the ball six times for 11 yards. Overall, the 11-year veteran logged a very pedestrian performance against an awful Lions team. However, his experience was on display as he was able to make quick decisions with conviction.
The Bears rushed for 68 yards on 29 attempts -- just 2.3 yards per attempt. That is not nearly good nor efficient enough. Here is a breakdown of those rushes:
- David Montgomery: 17 carries, 46 yards (2.7 Yds/Att)
- Andy Dalton: 6 carries, 11 yards (1.8 Yds/Att)
- Khalil Herbert: 4 carries, 9 yards (2.3 Yds/Att)
- Darnell Mooney: 1 carry, 2 yards (2.0 Yds/Att)
- Jakeem Grant: 1 carry, 0 yards (0.0 Yds/Att)
As a result of Allen Robinson's injury, Darnell Mooney has emerged and stacked back-to-back monster games. On Sunday against the Ravens, Mooney logged five catches for 121 yards and a touchdown. Against the Lions, he posted the following stat line: 8 targets, 5 catches, 123 yards, 0 TDs.
There has been a lot of Cole Kmet slander this year. However, he has quietly surpassed his 2020 performance in just 11 games and continues to show signs of growth. Kmet had his best game of the year to date on Thursday -- eight catches for 65 yards on 11 targets. In a better scheme, there's no telling which levels Kmet can reach. The sky is the limit for the second-year tight end.
The ex-Patriots wide receiver finally saw meaningful playing time and made the most of it. Byrd finished the game with four receptions for 42 yards on five targets. On the season, he has nine catches for 72 yards. The 28-year-old has a lot to offer, but much like Cole Kmet, Matt Nagy is not using him in ways conducive to his skill set.
The defense, given their circumstances, did a hell of a job on Thursday. However, it's important to consider they were playing the Lions.
Chicago held Detroit to 239 total yards and only allowed 14 total first downs. Likewise, the Lions only had 169 yards passing and 76 on the ground. The Bears' defense limited the Lions' offense to only 4-for-10 on third downs as well.
But not everything was so peachy. There were gaffes at times, including a 39-yard touchdown pass that occurred in the early moments of the game.
All in all, the Bears' defense had a decent game considering their opponent. They held the Lions to only 14 points but did allow two long scoring drives that resulted in those points.
- 7 plays, 69 yards
- 7 plays, 79 yards
Additionally, Detroit's offense did have a hand in bailing out the Bears with a plethora of penalties. Injuries played a factor too, as D'Andre Swift left the game early with a shoulder ailment when Roquan Smith mauled him for a tackle.
Another game, another standout performance by Robert Quinn. He logged five tackles, four solo, one sack, one TFL, and one QB hit. Additionally, Quinn had a strip-sack in this game.
The officials initially ruled Jared Goff down by contact, but Matt Nagy threw the challenge flag. Nagy's challenge proved successful as the refs overturned the call. The ball was coming out and there was a clear recovery by Trevis Gipson.
For the season, Quinn now has 11 sacks with still six games left to rack up even more.
The Bears lost three players over the course of the game, including two key contributors. First, Roquan Smith left the game early due to a hamstring issue.
A little later on, wide receiver Marquise Goodwin left the game with a foot injury and didn't return.
Additionally, the Bears were without outside linebacker Sam Kamara. He suffered a concussion in the early stages of the game.
Coin Toss Blunder?
It's been a bizarre week at Halas Hall, to say the least. It seems some of that chaotic energy spilled over to the coin toss.
While the report itself is hilarious, there's actual footage of it happening. Watching the video only makes the sadness of it that much worse as a Bears fan.
But who really got the last laugh?
The most impressive drives of the game came on the final possession. With 8:30 left in the game, the Bears' offense marched 69 yards on 18 plays while chewing up every last second remaining on the clock.
Ultimately, the final play of the drive was Cairo Santos kicking the game-winning field goal.
With Thursday's victory, Matt Nagy improved to 7-1 against the Detroit Lions and 3-0 on Thanksgiving. While Nagy didn't coach his best game, he did manage to out-coach Dan Campbell. Despite the ugliness of the win, Nagy made some smart decisions late in the game. The most important ones dealt with clock management and keeping the Lions off the field. Although, there was an instance of both head coaches fighting to use their timeouts. Campbell was trying to use a timeout because his defense was not in the proper alignment, but Nagy got his call in first.
In the end, Matt Nagy lives to see another day as head coach of the Chicago Bears. However, he's on thin ice and his margin for error is slim to none. Then, there was this interesting report from NFL insider Ian Rapoport just as the game ended.
It was a nice win to pick up on Thanksgiving. The general feeling was that a loss to the Lions would result in Nagy losing his job. However, that was not going to happen after George McCaskey addressed the team ahead of the game.
But this win against the Detroit Lions does not move the needle one way or another. The fact of the matter is that Nagy's job is still in jeopardy. It seems the only possible deterrent is the Bears winning out and making the playoffs. Ultimately, the future of the team and Justin Fields are all that matters. Hopefully, the Bears ownership is aware of that.
The Bears are now 4-7 with tough opponents coming up.
- Week 13: vs. Arizona (9-2)
- Week 14: at Green Bay (8-3) [SNF]
- Week 15: vs. Minnesota (5-5) [MNF]
- Week 16: at Seattle (3-7)
- Week 17: vs. New York Giants (3-7)
- Week 18: at Minnesota (5-5)
The Bears are still a team that struggles to score. On the flip side, their defense is dealing with injuries and has regressed some. It's hard to find more than two or three wins in the remaining six games.
What's On Tap Next?
As previously alluded to, the 4-7 Chicago Bears face the 9-2 Arizona Cardinals at Soldier Field in nine days. The game will take place on Sunday, December 5 at 12 PM CST, airing on FOX.
It will be interesting to see whether or not Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins will be ready to go for the game. Both star players have missed a few weeks of action lately due to injuries. The Cardinals' high-powered offense will certainly test Chicago's depleted defense. Meanwhile, Arizona's defense is no joke. They've been able to stifle their opponents and limit scoring, which presents another problem for the Bears as they struggle to score.
On paper, this game looks like a problematic matchup nightmare for the Bears. However, the game isn't played on paper. Both teams will take the field to settle it. Let's not forget, once upon a time, the Arizona Cardinals were the Chicago Cardinals.
Be sure to tune into the Bears On Tap podcast for postgame reaction, updates, and analysis throughout the week in addition to discussion on a variety of Bears-related topics.