Bears’ defense finally put the hammer down
After the defense allowed game-winning scores in the final minute against the Ravens and Steelers, Robert Quinn and Roquan Smith stepped up with big plays to thwart Russell Wilson & Co. and beat the Seahawks last week.
When Nick Foles engineered a six-play, 80-yard touchdown drive to give the Bears a 25-24 lead over the Seahawks with 1:01 to go Sunday, it stunned the home crowd at Lumen Field. But, believe it or not, the Bears had been there before.
Not only was it the third time this season that they’ve pulled off a desperation rally to take the lead in the last two minutes, but they’ve done it with a different quarterback each time.
Justin Fields, in the signature moment of his rookie season, drove the Bears 75 yards on seven plays to give the Bears a 27-26 lead over the Steelers with 1:46 left at Heinz Field on Nov. 8. And Andy Dalton threw a 49-yard touchdown pass to Marquise Goodwin to cap a 10-play, 75-yard drive that gave the Bears a 13-9 lead over the Ravens with 1:41 left on Nov. 21.
There was one big difference against the Seahawks, though. The defense made the offensive heroics stand up, allowing the Bears to celebrate a road victory instead of just applauding a futile fourth-quarter rally. The Ravens drove 72 yards on five plays for a touchdown with 22 seconds left to win 16-13. The Steelers drove 52 yards on seven plays to set up Chris Boswell’s 40-yard field goal with 26 seconds left for a 29-27 victory.
If Tyler Huntley could rally the Ravens to a game-winning touchdown in 1:19 after Goodwin’s touchdown catch, the Seahawks’ Russell Wilson was certainly capable of doing the same with 61 seconds left last week.
But the Bears’ defense barely allowed Wilson to get started. The Seahawks gained five net yards on seven plays — from their 27-yard line to the 32 — before Wilson’s fourth-and-five pass to Tyler Lockett was incomplete to clinch the Bears’ victory.
‘‘It was awesome,” defensive coordinator Sean Desai said. “That’s a big point of emphasis, to make sure we play great in the fourth quarter — and we did that.”
On second-and-six, Bears defensive end Angelo Blackson drew a holding penalty on Seahawks center Ethan Pocic. On third-and-16, inside linebacker Roquan Smith tackled Lockett a half-yard short of a first down. That loomed even bigger when tight end Gerald Everett was called for a false start, setting up the fourth-and-five incompletion.
The Bears’ defense came into the game ranked 26th in fourth-quarter points allowed (110). But they shut out the Seahawks (who came in 28th in fourth-quarter scoring) in the fourth.
The Seahawks were driving for a likely clinching score midway through the fourth quarter, with a first down at the Bears’ 14 with a 24-17 lead. But on third-and-four from the Bears’ 8, outside linebacker Robert Quinn sacked Wilson for a 13-yard loss, and Jason Myers missed a 39-yard field goal with 7:18 to play.
“There was a little bit of adversity for our guys,” Desai said. “At a time like that, we all know you need your big-time players to step up and make big plays. Our big-time players did that. Robert got a huge sack, which was tremendous.
“Really proud of those guys — how they stayed in the game the whole time. They didn’t get frustrated, stayed with the plan and settled themselves down to execute when we needed the best execution.”