After watching tape of Sunday's 41-17 win over the Jaguars in Jacksonville, Bears coach Matt Nagy on Monday discussed three things that stood out to him in the game:
(1) Dominant performances on both sides of the ball in the third quarter turned a close game into a lopsided Bears victory.
The Bears broke open Sunday's game by outscoring the Jaguars 21-0 in the third quarter, increasing their lead from 13-10 to 34-10. In the process, they more than doubled their third-period scoring output for the season, having mustered just 17 points in their first 14 games.
In the third quarter Sunday, the Bears held decisive advantages in total yards (156-8), first downs (11-0) and time of possession (11:15-3:45). They needed just one third-down play on three touchdown drives of 77, 54 and 25 yards. The TDs came on 6-yard runs by Mitchell Trubisky and David Montgomery and Trubisky's 22-yard pass to Jimmy Graham.
Graham's second touchdown reception of the game from Trubisky was set up by Roquan Smith's second interception of the day. "That third quarter stood out to me as you go back and watch it," Nagy said, "just what we did with the defense getting a punt, interception and punt and the offense scoring three touchdowns."
The 21 points tied for the most the Bears have scored in the third quarter in Nagy's three seasons as coach. They had previously accomplished the feat twice, both times in losses—to the Dolphins in overtime in 2018 and the Raiders in 2019. The Bears record for third-quarter points remains 27, set Dec. 5, 1937 in a 42-28 road win over the Chicago Cardinals.
(2) Veteran receiver Allen Robinson II continued to shine, especially on third down.
Robinson tied a career high with 10 receptions, enabling him to reach 100 catches this season for the first time in his seven-year NFL career. The milestone no doubt was even more special coming in Jacksonville, where he spent his first four NFL seasons before leaving the Jaguars to sign with the Bears as a free agent in 2018.
Robinson picked up first downs on eight of his 10 catches Sunday, including four on third down and one on fourth down. His third-down conversions sustained four separate drives that resulted in three touchdowns and a field goal. Robinson had receptions of three yards on third-and-3, 12 yards on third-and-6, seven yards on third-and-3 and 13 yards on third-and-2. He also had an 8-yard catch on fourth-and-5.
"What I liked was on third down he made some really good releases at the line of scrimmage," Nagy said. "He's a guy that that word 'trust' pops into with the quarterbacks and with Mitchell and the coaches. This game is an art to him. Just knowing coverages and what teams are presenting on the other side, nothing really surprises me with him. He respects the game. He respects situational football. And he made plays for us yesterday in key moments."
Robinson also led the Bears in receiving yards with 103 Sunday for the 13th straight game this season. It was the 16th 100-yard performance of his career—eight with the Jaguars and eight with the Bears.
(3) The Bears are no longer hurting themselves with costly penalties.
The Bears were assessed at least 46 penalty yards in each of their first eight games this season and have since drawn fewer than 46 penalty yards in each of their last seven contests. They led the NFL with 58 penalties after eight games and have since dropped all the way to 14th with 87 flags.
In a Week 9 loss to the Titans, the Bears were in excellent position to cut into a 10-0 deficit late in the first half after taking over at the Tennessee 48 following a punt. But they went in reverse, drawing back-to-back penalties for a false start and illegal use of the hands. On their opening possession of the third quarter, the Bears faced fourth-and-1 at the Titans' 31 but were forced to punt after back-to-back false starts.
The Bears haven't been making those type of mistakes of late. They committed four penalties for 40 yards in Sunday's win over the Jaguars, with two of the flags coming on 15-yard personal fouls on special teams. The offense committed just one infraction—a false start on right tackle Germain Ifedi—while running 70 plays on 11 possessions (not counting two kneel-downs in victory formation to end the game) that resulted in five touchdowns, two field goals, one interception and three punts.
"I like the fact that we are limiting our penalties right now," Nagy said. "Ever since the bye, we made that a focus to limit that. I understand the guys trying to understand the hidden yardage in that."