It was as grueling of a victory as the Bears have had in awhile, but they survived the conditions and a frenetic finish to beat the Broncos 16-14 on Sunday.
They pulled it off despite falling behind on a two-point conversion with 31 seconds left and won on Eddy Pineiro’s 53-yard field goal as time ran out.
Here are a few notes based on playing time allotment:
How is Smith doing this?
Bears inside linebacker Roquan Smith looks like an absolute pro and came into the season in elite shape. He played every defensive snap against the Broncos and has now been on the field for 145 of 146 plays.
Playing every down against the Broncos was a stunning feat. Denver ran 82 plays, including 24 runs. Even the mighty Khalil Mack needed an occasional break, and players were lying on the floor in the locker room from exhaustion after the game.
Smith led the Bears with 13 tackles Sunday, followed by Danny Trevathan (12) and Eddie Jackson (10).
Trevathan and safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix also played every defensive snap Sunday, and the Bears kept their offensive line fully intact for the second consecutive game.
Taking it slowly with Burton
It was a big boost for the Bears to get injured tight end Trey Burton back Sunday, but coach Matt Nagy was careful. He played Burton 26 snaps, less than half the game.
For context, Burton averaged 54 plays per game last season. After seeming to rush him back to a full workload in training camp, the Bears look like they’re going about it more gradually this time around.
Here’s how the tight end snaps were allocated in Denver: Burton 26, Adam Shaheen 21, Ben Braunecker 15, Bradley Sowell 4, Ted Larsen 2. Larsen, a backup guard, got those plays as an extra blocker.
Shift in the running game
Nagy flipped his running attack after a paltry output against the Packers in Week 1. Rookie David Montgomery went from six carries to 18, and his playing time rose from 38 percent of the snaps to 44 percent.
He made good on those chances with 62 yards and a touchdown, and the Bears racked up 153 yards rushing for the fifth-highest total of the Nagy era.
Here’s how the carries were distributed: Montgomery 18, Tarik Cohen 4, Mike Davis 3, Cordarrelle Patterson 2, Taylor Gabriel 1, Mitch Trubisky 1
Davis played just 25 percent of the snaps after logging 56 percent in Week 1.
Aside from the three defensive players, the offensive line and Trubisky playing every down, there were a few other impressive shows of endurance.
Kyle Fuller, who had the energy to grab an impressive red-zone interception late in the game, played 99 percent of the snaps. Fellow cornerback Prince Amukamara played 98 percent, missing only a brief period when it appeared he had a cramp. On the back end, Jackson played 96 percent.
Allen Robinson gutted it out for 90 percent of the offensive plays, and Gabriel played 87 percent.