Bears’ defense shows up, but wilts under pressure in second half
Subscribe for unlimited digital access.
Try one month for $1!
Subscribe for unlimited digital access. Try one month for $1!
The Bears defense was not accepting excuses Monday night.
The defense carried its share of the load into the third quarter of a 29-14 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles at Soldier Field — holding rookie quarterback Carson Wentz and the Eagles to three first-half field goals and forcing the Eagles to punt on their first two possessions of the third quarter.
But injuries to nickel back Bryce Callahan, safety Adrian Amos, nose tackle Eddie Goldman and linebacker Lamarr Houston took a toll. And an offense that turned the ball over three times in a span of four possessions in the second half — including Jay Cutler’s interception that Eagles linebacker Nigel Bradham returned 20 yards to the 2-yard line — finally broke the Bears’ back.
The Eagles scored two touchdowns in a 21-second span late in the third quarter and another touchdown early in the fourth quarter after Jeremy Langford lost a fumble to take a 29-7 lead.
“We only gave up  yards passing and  total yards, so we played pretty well as a defense, cornerback Tracy Porter said. “Turnovers hurt us, but we didn’t get enough turnovers as a defense. We didn’t get any. We’re not helping the offense by not getting any turnovers.”
The offense put a lot of pressure on the defense with ineffective play in the first half and turnovers in the second half. But, as Porter noted, sometimes one side has to carry the other.
“We’re defenders. It’s our job to stop the opposing offense,” Porter said. “And regardless of where we are on the football field we have to execute and stop them from scoring. We didn’t do a good job of that.
“If you look at the Rams and Seattle [on Sunday], the score was 9-3. It was a defensive game. That’s the type of defensive game that we need to start playing. And if we can hold them to three points, that’s our job. That’s what it takes. If our offensive is struggling, it’s our job to pick them up. If we’re struggling it’s the offense’s job to pick us up. Special teams included.”
Goldman left the field on a cart with an ankle injury. Callahan and Amos were being treated for concussions. Houston left with a knee injury “that seems substantial,” coach John Fox said. Safety Harold Jones-Quartey was injured in the third quarter, four plays before the Eagles scored a touchdown to take a 16-7 lead.
“You feel for your guys — that’s No. 1, because we’re all human,” defensive end Akiem Hicks said. “But we know we have to push forward and make sure that we stay together and keep pushing toward our goal.”
Chris Prosinski replaced Amos. Sherrick McManis replaced Callahan. Will Sutton played for Goldman. “It’s a next-man-up mentality,” Porter said. “If someone goes down, the next guy has to be ready.”
The Bears’ defense hardly was perfect, but contained Wentz in the first half and into the third. Though the Bears’ defense struggled from the start, the defense was a bright spot early — with several young players contributing:
Callahan had a touchdown saving pass break-up when he deflected a Wentz pass for Celek at the goal line.
Second-year cornerback Jacoby Glenn reacted well and stopped Josh Huff for no gain on a jet sweep with a solid open-field tackle.
And rookie cornerback Deiondre Hall forced the Eagles to settle for a field goal late in the first half when he broke up a pass for Celek — a last-split-second swipe with his long left arm that could become his signature play.
“I’m impressed by the first half of both games,” Hicks said. “I’m encouraged and impressed by both. We need to bring that same mentality and execution to the second half of both games.”
In the third qurater, Willie Young sacked Wentz for a seven-yar loss. On third-and-20, Glenn broke up a catchable deep ball to Nelson Agholor down the right sideline with a late play on the ball.
Still, the Bears are 0-2, with a defense that seems far ahead of the offense. Young among others was still upbeat.
“Hey, man, it’s early in the year, baby. We’re going to bounce back. We’re not in panic-mode by any means.
“I know the personnel. Week-in and week-out our match-ups across the board are going to be 50-50 if not in better in our favor. We’ve just got to find that formula to win. And I don’t have any doubt in my mind that we have the guys. We have everything in this locker room that we need. You just got to find that formula, that’s all.”