Boiled down, the Bears-Broncos game was a question: Can someone explain what the heck just happened?
What we know is that the Bears beat the Broncos 16-14 in Denver on Sunday, though that is still open to interpretation.
We know that the Bears have a kicker, that his name is Eddy Pineiro and that his 53-yard, game-winning field goal with no time left on the clock means he can probably win political office in Chicago without stooping to standard dirty political tricks.
We know that Broncos coach Vic Fangio was a briefly an idiot, then a courageous man of his convictions and finally a guy bent over, hands on knees, in despair.
We know that the Bears’ defense is still pretty darn good but that it appears to be susceptible to the thin air at high altitude.
We know that the Bears’ offense has a ton of work to do, unless you consider Cordarrelle Patterson’s 46-yard run all the offense a team needs.
And we know the Bears are 1-1 today because of a roughing-the-passer call with 24 seconds left on Broncos linebacker Bradley Chubb that looked suspiciously like a football play -- unless the quarterback still having the ball in his hand when a hit arrives is no longer a football play.
It’s hard to make any grand pronouncements from this game, other than Bears won a game they probably shouldn’t have, that quarterback Mitch Trubisky had another disconcerting performance and that maybe, just maybe, the team has a kicker after a circus of an offseason kicking competition. As far as a corner being turned, no.
But the Bears think Sunday’s game comes down to another question: Who cares?
“The one thing that matters is that we hung together,’’ coach Matt Nagy said. “We never, ever doubted each other.’’
Nagy surely was pleased with Trubisky’s 25-yard connection with Allen Robinson on 4th-and-15 with one second left in the game. That set up Pineiro’s game-winner. Nagy will focus on the play as a sign of progress from his quarterback, and it would be hard to blame him. It’s what coaches do. But the Bears barely had an offense all game. Trubisky was 16-of-27 for 120 yards and had a 70.0 passer rating.
“There are things we need to clean up,’’ the quarterback said afterward. If they’re smart, future generations of children will use that line when parents walk into bedrooms that apparently had taken intense enemy shelling.
In good news, Nagy located all the run plays that were missing from the Packers game.
What the Bears can build on is a victory, sort of a big deal after the brutal loss to the Packers in the opener. But, boy, what a strange victory.
The game spent the first 59 minutes of its existence stagnating. Then all hell broke loose. The Broncos scored a touchdown to cut the Bears’ lead to 13-12. Fangio decided to go for a two-point conversion, which seemed like a crazy decision, given that the Bears’ offense had scored a total of one touchdown in its first two games. A delay of game penalty against the Broncos relieved Fangio of his madness, but an offsides call against Bears defender Buster Skrine on what turned out to be a missed extra point gave Uncle Vic another shot for a two-point conversion against the Bears’ hardhearted defense. This time, it worked. Broncos 14-13 with 31 seconds left. What a smart guy Fangio was!
And then came Pineiro’s hero act.
“It was a pretty cool moment,’’ he said.
There was nothing in the Bears’ performance Sunday that suggests they can move the ball consistently. Patterson’s long run in the third quarter set up their only touchdown. And even that score, a one-yard run by rookie running back David Montgomery, needed a video review to show that the tip of the ball got in the end zone. It took the Bears five plays from inside the 5-yard line to get that score. Fifty percent of all births are easier, statistics show.
NFL teams have been telling us for years that success is about stacking victories. So the Bears have a chance to do that in Week 3 against the Redskins. But for Sunday’s weird, thrilling victory to serve as a real foundation, the Bears will need to show some radical improvement on offense. That includes Nagy’s play-calling, as well.
The defense is excellent at making fans feel good and opponents feel like their spleens are bleeding. That’s enough to win a lot of football games. But if the Bears want to get to the playoffs, they’re going to need an offense that does a decent imitation of an offense.
What the heck just happened? The Bears won a football game, a cause for celebration and concern.