Having secured an interception — and the Bears’ win against the Lions with one minute to play on Thanksgiving last year — Kyle Fuller handed the ball to fellow cornerback Prince Amukamara.
Amukamara held the ball in his right hand like a microphone and pointed to the nearest camera. Ten teammates shuffled behind him as he pretended to sing, and safety Deon Bush kneeled down and waved his hands in the air.
“Last year, that’s where the Motown dance was born,” Amukamara said this week. “It was birthed.”
Thanksgiving last year was the pinnacle of the dominant, dancing days of the Bears’ defense. Four days earlier, in another nationally televised game, the Bears celebrated by both pretending to conduct an orchestra and pantomiming the rowing of a boat.
In Detroit, Amukamara sang Motown. Safety Eddie Jackson led the team in an end zone up-down drill after returning a Matthew Stafford interception 41 yards for a touchdown with six minutes left in a tie game.
“Just a great takeaway,” Jackson this week when asked what he remembered about the interception. “It was a tough fight. The defense came through with the touchdown. And then we got a closeout by Kyle.”
Linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski said the game showed the team’s “character of going out and making plays.” Never one to embellish, Fuller managed a smile when asked what last season’s Thanksgiving win, which improved the Bears to 8-3, meant.
“A win’s a win,” he said. “You have fun doing it. That was one of those games.”
The Bears haven’t had many since.
When they return to Ford Field on Thursday, that game will feel so long ago. The Bears have a two percent chance to make the playoffs, according to Football Outsiders. It’s up from one percent before Sunday’s 19-14 win against the Giants.
“This position we’re in, even though we don’t like it at all, we believe we’re still in the hunt,” Amukamara said. “It’s never over until it’s over. I would say our backs are against the wall. You can never be mad at the fans — they’re just passionate. You hear the boos, you hear them.
“But I think we’re in a great place because we’re together. I kinda like the position we’re in.”
The Bears are 5-6 because their offense still hasn’t proven functional from week-to-week. Their defense allows the fourth-fewest points and yards in the league but hasn’t been nearly as dangerous as it was last season.
The Bears led the NFL with 36 takeaways and 27 interceptions last year. This season, only six teams have fewer interceptions than their seven. The Bears are tied for 10th with 15 takeaways.
Defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano offered a statistic Tuesday: since the start of the 2018 season, the Bears are 7-1 in games in which an outside linebacker records a strip-sack.
The only loss came in last year’s season opener in Green Bay, and the most recent win came Sunday against the Giants. The Bears remain amazed that the Giants left a single blocker assigned to Khalil Mack as often as they did, given that the star edge rusher has faced double- and triple-teams most of the season.
“I was fired up,” Pagano said. “So was he.”
Mack has 6½ sacks — but only two since the beginning of October — and leads the league with five forced fumbles.
The Bears could use another one to get back to .500 on Thursday.
That would give them reason to sing again.
“We saw it again obviously, last week,” Pagano said. “And it was huge.”