The Bears rallied from a 14-0 first-quarter deficit to beat the Cardinals 16-14 Sunday in Arizona. One day later, here are three things that stood out in the game:
(1) The defense carried the Bears to the comeback win, dominating the Cardinals over the final three quarters following a surprisingly slow start.
After Sam Bradford threw touchdown passes of 35 and 21 yards to stake Arizona to a 14-0 first-quarter lead, the Bears defense completely shut down the Cardinals. The unit forced three straight punts to end the first half, and then opened the second half by generating takeaways on four consecutive possessions. The offense converted the turnovers into a touchdown and two field goals, enabling the Bears to rally for the win.
"We came out flat and we felt it," said safety Eddie Jackson, who began the takeaway parade with an interception. "We gathered up on the sideline that third drive before we went out there and we said we need to change, we start right here. We needed that adversity to show where we really were at, and we came out and played a good game."
Coach Matt Nagy lauded the defense for a third straight special performance Sunday night, then reiterated his thoughts Monday after watching the game on tape.
"It was what we thought it was," Nagy said, channeling Dennis Green following another Bears' comeback win in Arizona in 2006. "They were flying around. They gave up a couple big plays there back-to-back in the first quarter; nice play designs by Arizona. But I was impressed with how well we bounced back and stayed together and then they made plays and really stuffed the run, kept them to about 50 yards rushing, which is always where you want to start and then make plays—got turnovers, sacks, fumbles, did a little bit of everything. That was great."
(2) With the development of young quarterback Mitchell Trubisky and the offense, there will be growing pains and the process won't happen overnight.
Nagy has been preaching that message from Day 1, and it was evident Sunday. Trubisky made some terrific throws—like a dart to receiver Allen Robinson II for a 39-yard gain that set up a touchdown—but the second-year pro was also inaccurate on other passes that could have resulted in TDs to Robinson and receiver Taylor Gabriel.
"I thought that there were some good ones and I thought there were some he could get better at," Nagy said. "That's where we're at. He'll be the first to tell you that. We'll do everything we possibly can each week to make sure we limit those inaccuracies."
The Bears offense mustered just one touchdown Sunday and has now scored only four TDs in three games this season. The unit struggled in the red zone against the Cardinals, scoring one TD on three possessions inside the 20. But Nagy was pleased that the offense generated enough points to win the game, especially on second-half drives of 67 and 59 yards that resulted in a touchdown and the decisive field goal, respectively.
"We need to be better in the red zone," Nagy said. "We need to get to a point to where we're putting touchdowns up on the board and not kicking field goals. Now with that said, where I'm proud with the offense was the fact that they were resilient in understanding, ‘Hey, 14-0, let's just stick to our game plan. Let's just worry about play-by-play and not what could happen down the road here.' When we came back out in the second half, offensively we did enough to win the game."
(3) The Bears responded to adversity and finished strong, rallying from a 14-point deficit to win for the first time since an 18-17 victory over the Chiefs in 2015.
Heavyweight boxing legend Mike Tyson has often said that "everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth." Well, the Bears got punched in the mouth twice, but followed by picking themselves off the canvas and eventually flattening the Cardinals.
"That's what it's about in this league, playing well down the stretch and winning games," Robinson said. "It doesn't matter if you go into halftime up 20 if you don't finish the game. That's not good either. We went into the half down, came back and put some points up, got a rhythm going and came out on top."
Prior to Sunday, the Bears had lost their last 22 games when trailing after three quarters, dating back to Dec. 27, 2015 when they turned a 14-13 deficit entering the final period into a 26-21 win over the Buccaneers in Tampa.
Although the defense led the charge in Arizona, Nagy stressed that it was a team effort. "It doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize we're winning games because of our defense, but that doesn't mean our offense isn't a huge part of the score, or special teams," Nagy said. "For our offense to come back and understand that when we're down 14-0 that we need to put points on the board, and however we need to do it, we need to do it. For special teams to make the field goals and make the punts and flip the field, trust our defense, we're working this thing. We're just working together on how we want to do it, and that's the beauty of these wins."
Prime Photos: Bears vs. Cardinals 9.24.18
Bears photographer Jacob Funk selected his best photos from the Bears 2018 road game against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium.