Bears open up Club Dub after snapping skid, but they know tougher tests loom
Chicago’s hottest club — or maybe it was oh-so 2018 — opened Sunday after being closed for 42 days.
Chicago’s hottest club — or maybe it was oh-so 2018 — reopened Sunday after being closed for 42 days.
Bass thumped through the ground-floor concrete at Soldier Field. Safety Eddie Jackson and running back Tarik Cohen performed their own dance-off in the middle of the locker room. Coach Matt Nagy sat back and watched the scene at Club Dub after the Bears’ 20-13 victory against the Lions ended their four-game skid.
‘‘You almost forget sometimes,’’ Nagy said. ‘‘Four games is a long time.’’
The result came with asterisks: Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford was ruled out Sunday morning because of reported broken bones in his back. The Lions’ starting running back left with a concussion in the first half. Their defense is the second-worst in the league.
Such circumstances hadn’t sparked the Bears before, however. They’re 4-4 in games in which they had been favored, losing to a backup quarterback and running back (the Saints) and to another defense ranked 31st at the time (the Chargers).
Perhaps the outcome would have different had Stafford played. But the Bears won’t apologize for their first victory since Week 4.
Some on social media wanted the Bears to close Club Dub altogether in acknowledgment of their skid — and the fact that this season lacked the joy of last season.
‘‘I think that’s hilarious,’’ cornerback Prince Amukamara said. ‘‘I think it’s kind of ignorant. . . . The reason why we do it is because we know how hard it is to win in this league. . . . The fact that we did it rejuvenated us.’’
Asked why he kept the club open, Nagy simply said: ‘‘That’s who we are.’’
The Bears have talked for a month about how a victory might be the pressure-release valve they needed. Now that it’s here, they’ll need to be much better against the Rams in prime time next week.
‘‘They’re like, ‘Bring it on,’ ’’ Nagy said. ‘‘They like it, and it’s a part of who we are.’’
What the victory means in the long term, however, is far less clear. The playoffs still appear to be a pipe dream for a team that just climbed out of last place in the NFC North.
‘‘We’ve been trying to turn it around,’’ receiver Allen Robinson said. ‘‘We can build off this win, but we can’t sit back and do too much with it. We have a game in a week.’’
For most of the first half, the Bears looked like the same team that tripped all over itself in the first 30 minutes against the Eagles. They went three-and-out on three of their first four series, drawing boos from a crowd seemingly used to such ineptitude this season.
The defense allowed 72 yards on backup quarterback Jeff Driskel’s first drive but forced the Lions to settle for a 22-yard field goal by Matt Prater. He added a 54-yarder with 4:40 left in the second quarter before the Bears’ offense woke up.
A drive that featured Nagy going for it on fourth-and-one from the Bears’ 29 — ‘‘We needed a spark,’’ he said — ended in tight end Ben Braunecker catching an 18-yard touchdown pass — the first scoring reception of his career — from quarterback Mitch Trubisky with 25 seconds left in the half.
To start the third quarter, Trubisky put together maybe the Bears’ best drive of the season — a five-play, 76-yard march capped by Cohen catching a swing pass and running untouched for a nine-yard touchdown.
Linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski’s interception on the Lions’ next drive set up receiver Taylor Gabriel’s 24-yard touchdown catch on third down.
On the three consecutive touchdown drives, Trubisky went 10-for-12 for 132 yards. He was pedestrian the rest of the game, going 6-for-11 for 41 yards and being sacked five times.
The Lions made the game close in the final six minutes. Driskel (27-for-46, 269 yards) launched a 47-yard pass into the end zone that receiver Kenny Golladay caught only after cornerback Kyle Fuller slipped.
‘‘Am I saying his name right? Drexel? Driskel,’’ Amukamara said. ‘‘Yeah. Jeff, right? He’s a baller.’’
The Bears immediately went three-and-out to give the Lions the ball back with 3:31 left. But Golladay, a St. Rita and Northern Illinois alum, was flagged for offensive pass interference on a converted fourth-and-one to push the Lions back with 2:18 left, and Driskel threw incomplete to him on the next play.
The Bears went three-and-out again, though, giving the Lions the ball at their 10 with 1:41 left. They drove 62 yards in the next 1:15, setting up first down at the Bears’ 28. An incomplete pass, a three-yard completion and a spike later, Driskel threw incomplete into the end zone as time expired.
The Bears were off to celebrate.
‘‘There’s still a lot of things that we need to get better at; we understand that,’’ Nagy said. ‘‘But you step back in those moments and you say, ‘This is why we do what we do.’ ’’