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After Further Review

3 things we learned in Week 3 win


The Bears raced to a 28-0 lead en route to a 31-15 win over the Redskins Monday night in Washington. Here are three things that stood out in the game:

(1) The Bears defense was at its best, generating five takeaways for the first time since 2013 and scoring its first touchdown of the season.

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix burned his former team twice, intercepting Case Keenum passes on the Redskins' first possessions of each half. The veteran safety returned the first pick 37 yards for a touchdown and the second one 59 yards.

Clinton-Dix is the only new starter on a Bears defense that led the NFL in several key statistical categories last season, and he has fit right in.

"He has that veteran leadership," said coach Matt Nagy. "Ha Ha came in here understanding what this culture was all about. We're really I believe pretty unique with the culture that we have going on. He came in and was looking to fit in and he did that. He's come in, he's worked hard every single day. He's become a leader."

Another veteran leader who had a monster game against the Redskins was Khalil Mack, who recorded two sacks and two forced fumbles. The All-Pro outside linebacker generated a key takeaway when he swatted the ball out of Keenum's right hand and Akiem Hicks recovered the fumble at the Redskins' 11.

"[Mack] attacks that football," Nagy said. "I tell the guys that. When Khalil sacks the quarterback, he sacks the football. He's very instinctual as a pass rusher, knowing the arm angles of a quarterback and where the ball's out or at least where the arm angle's going to go to. When you're violent, you're strong, you're aggressive like he is, you get those. He was just dominant last night."

(2) Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky and the Bears offense had their best game of the young season, producing three touchdowns—all on passes to Taylor Gabriel.

Trubisky had the breakout performance many were hoping for, completing 25 of 31 passes for 231 yards and a 116.5 passer rating. Two of his incompletions easily could have been caught, and the only notable mistake he committed came on an underthrown pass intended for Allen Robinson II that was intercepted by Josh Norman.

"I really like how he went into this week and he handled the week of practice," Nagy said. "It transferred over to the game. In the game, he was just 'steady Eddie' the whole way. I mean, he was very smooth. He never got rattled, even after the red-zone pick. He came off and knew that he can't do that. But he didn't let it affect his game, and that's where I think he's growing."

Although Trubisky continued to throw mostly short passes, his most impressive pass of the game resulted in a 36-yard touchdown to Gabriel. Trubisky sidestepped pressure in the pocket, stepped up and heaved the ball to Gabriel, who made a sensational catch while deftly getting both of his feet inbounds.

According to NextGen Stats, the pass had a completion probability of 10.4 percent, the least probable completion of the NFL season through three weeks.

"To throw an off-balance throw with that accuracy down the field like that was one of those plays we've been looking for," Nagy said. "It was nice to get that. Those are the type of plays right there that really get you going. If there are 10 plays in the NFL that you put on there by a quarterback, that's 100 percent one of those top 10 plays by a quarterback."

(3) Bears kicker Eddy Piñeiro displayed mental and physical toughness by battling through a knee injury to make 5-of-6 kicks.

Piñeiro has overcome a lot of adversity to reach the NFL; he and his father slept in a car the night before an open tryout at the University of Alabama because they couldn't afford a hotel room. So it's obviously going to take a whole lot to keep Piñeiro out of a game.

The young kicker was listed as questionable on the injury report after hurting his knee in the weight room Saturday. And even though he was limping noticeably, he made 1-of-2 field-goal attempts and 4-of-4 extra-point tries in Monday night's win.

"In that position it can be mental, especially when you're not hurt very much," Nagy said. "And kickers, unless they have something nagging that's going on, they're not getting banged up every game like these other guys are where they have body ailments that they have to take care of throughout the week. So when something like that comes up and you're in a little bit of pain, you've got to fight through it."

Punter Pat O'Donnell handled kickoff duties against the Redskins in place of Piñeiro, which should help his sore knee heal.

"Where we prevent it from getting worse is kickoffs," Nagy said. "I think that's where you get that violent action coming through, where you're doing those. That's where you can kind of prevent that a little bit."

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