The Bears’ dramatic 22-19 comeback victory against the Chargers on Monday in San Diego was thrilling NFL football. Kept everybody in Chicago alert.
Well done, Bears.
But what did it mean?
There was some good stuff in there and, yes, some bad stuff. Spotlighted among the bad stuff was quarterback Jay Cutler’s lost fumble after he was sacked in the first quarter and his clear miscommunication on a pass in the flat to wide receiver Alshon Jeffery that cornerback Jason Verrett intercepted and returned 68 yards for the Chargers’ second touchdown of the game.
That was early in the second quarter, and the odds of the Bears winning after that, down 13-0, were about none.
We love comebacks. But comebacks made necessary by your own bad play? That’s different.
Nor should we forget that the Chargers had lost so many players to injury, it was a wonder they could field a team. The previous week, in their 29-26 loss to the Baltimore Ravens, they had 12 players injured, only four of whom returned.
Already decimated at receiver, the Chargers quickly lost wideout Malcom Floyd to a shoulder injury and ended up ‘‘featuring’’ an exhausted, ancient Antonio Gates at tight end, along with a wideout named Dontrelle Inman, an overmatched fellow who fumbled away one catch and dropped another critical one from quarterback Philip Rivers.
Verrett, the cornerback who scored on the early interception, soon left the game with a groin injury. He was followed by the other cornerback, Patrick Robinson (neck). All told, the Chargers finished the game without 11 of their projected opening-day starters.
Look, you win when you can in the NFL. A victory is a victory. Injuries happen. No mercy. And, yes, the Bears played without star tailback Matt Forte.
So, nice win. But we have to wonder where it leads, beyond putting a comeback notch on Cutler’s belt (he threw for an outstanding 345 yards and two touchdowns to go with the pickoff) and getting the Bears to an underwhelming 3-5 record.
Now the good stuff.
Dynamic pass rusher Lamarr Houston is back, and his two sacks of Rivers on the Chargers’ final drive helped seal the game. Houston did his sack dance and survived without tearing another knee to shreds, the way he did last season. Phew.
Rookie running back Jeremy Langford filled in well for Forte with 142 total yards, including a beautiful layout reception of a 31-yard pass from Cutler.
‘‘I thought he had a great night,’’ Bears coach John Fox said.
How quickly you can be forgotten, Matt.
Jeffery had his third 100-yard-plus receiving effort in just four games, with 10 catches for 151 yards. Game-breaker dude, he is.
And then there’s Cutler himself, a mysterious fellow who might or might not be in the process of remaking himself as a late-career leader and field general. He threw some terrific passes, none more thrilling than the fourth-quarter rocket down the middle that tight end Zach Miller caught with one gloved hand for the game-winning touchdown.
Have you ever seen Cutler more animated than when he hugged Miller half to death? ‘‘Cutler face’’ be gone.
With just a slight turn of fate, the Bears easily could be 5-3 and in the mix with the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings in the NFC North. But the Chargers — who have lost games by five, four, three, three and three points — could easily be 5-4 instead of possibly the worst team in the NFL at 2-7.
So it goes.
The Bears travel to St. Louis next to play the 4-4 Rams. A winnable game, for sure.
If the Bears roar.