Carson Wentz and the Washington Commanders got back into the win column on Thursday night, as they defeated the Chicago Bears 12-7 in a thrilling ending. The Bears had a chance to score the game-winning touchdown on fourth-and-goal with just seconds remaining, but Darnell Mooney could not haul in a Justin Fields pass at the goal line.
Carson Wentz completed 12 of 22 passes for 99 yards with zero touchdowns and zero interceptions. Justin Fields completed 14 of 27 passes for 190 yards, one touchdown and one interception, and also rushed for 88 yards. Rookie running back Brian Robinson recorded his first career start for Washington, and he rushed 17 times for 60 yards and the game-winning score.
This was a tale of two halves in some ways. With how Washington and Chicago played out the first two quarters, it looked like we may not see a touchdown for the second consecutive Thursday night game. The only points scored in the first half came via a Commanders field goal — the product of a nine-play, 57-yard drive which included 32 penalty yards. However, things finally somewhat opened up in the second half.
Early in the third quarter, Fields hit Dante Pettis on a deep, 40-yard pass for the first touchdown of the game. Wentz then went to work with a sense of urgency, going 65 yards on 13 plays. However, Scott Turner’s offense stalled in the red zone, and the Commanders had to settle for their second field goal of the game. Washington’s offense wasn’t getting much done, so the special teams had to step up in a pivotal juncture.
On Washington’s next possession, Wentz and Co. went three-and-out. Punter Tress Way booted the ball deep, and Bears rookie returner Velus Jones muffed the punt just yards from his own end zone. It was recovered by Washington, and Robinson punched in his first career score two plays later to take a 12-7 lead.
Down five points with just 1:49 remaining in the fourth quarter, Fields and the Bears offense took over. After a 13-yard rush by David Montgomery, Fields scrambled for 39 yards to get to the Washington 5-yard line. Chicago had four plays to try to punch it in, but was unable to.
Let’s take a look at what went down in Chicago on Thursday night.
Why the Commanders won
If you were to just look at the box score, it doesn’t seem like Washington won this game. That’s because the Commanders came up big in big moments. The special teams recovered a muffed punt in the fourth quarter that led to Washington’s only touchdown of the game, and then the defense shined at important times.
The Bears scored just seven points on Thursday night. It should have been more, but this Commanders defense held strong with its backs to the wall, and with the game on the line. Chicago had four chances to gain 5 yards and win the game in the fourth quarter, but it was unable to. Darrick Forrest broke up a pass in the end zone on third-and-goal, and then Benjamin St-Juste called game on fourth-and-goal with his defensive stop. We’ll talk about that a little bit later.
Why the Bears lost
The Bears recorded 392 yards of total offense compared to the Commanders’ 214 yards, but still scored five fewer points. You know what it came down to? The offensive play-calling, and then falling apart in the red zone.
The Bears did go 2-for-2 in the red area against the Minnesota Vikings last week, but they went 0-for-3 in the red zone against the New York Giants two games ago — and it cost them the game. The Bears took their red zone struggles to a new level on Thursday night, as they went 0-for-3 FROM INSIDE WASHINGTON’S 5-YARD LINE. That’s right, the Bears had the ball inside the Commanders’ 5-yard line three separate times Thursday night, and came away with ZERO points.
Fields threw an interception on the first trip inside the 5; the Bears were stopped on fourth down at the 1-yard line in the second quarter and then Chicago failed to punch in what could have been the game-winning score in the final stanza. In all seriousness, the Bears would be 4-2 instead of 2-4 if they knew what to do in the red zone.
There’s conversations to be had about the Bears offense in general and how they handle Fields as a quarterback, but this game came down to red zone performance.
This game came down to the final play. On fourth-and-goal, St-Juste made this stop on Mooney. It looked like the Bears wideout was across the goal line for a moment, but he hadn’t established possession. As Mooney came down, he reeled in the pass, but landed out of bounds and was not over the goal line. It’s been said that football is a game of inches.
Play of the game
The Bears would have never had a chance to win the game on fourth-and-goal if it weren’t for this play. With 1:06 remaining in the game, Fields scrambled for 39 yards to get Chicago to Washington 5-yard line. This was a pretty incredible sequence that ended up not mattering since the Bears failed in the red zone.
The Commanders return to Washington next week, where they will play host to Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers next Sunday. The Packers host the New York Jets this weekend. As for the Bears, they will remain in the prime-time spotlight next week. They travel to Foxborough to take on the New England Patriots on “Monday Night Football.” Bill Belichick takes on his former team in the Cleveland Browns this Sunday.