Another game, another day full of big plays by Bears RB Tarik Cohen
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Running back Tarik Cohen didn’t listen to coach Matt Nagy. But here’s guessing Nagy is OK with it after Cohen played an instrumental role in the Bears’ NFC North-clinching 24-17 victory Sunday against the Packers at Soldier Field.
In this case, Cohen turned a check-down throw from quarterback Mitch Trubisky into a headfirst, full-extension dive into the end zone for a 12-yard touchdown with 30 seconds left in the second quarter.
“That’s something coach Nagy tells us not to do,” Cohen said with a smile that featured a new gold-and-diamond grille.
“Don’t extend the ball for the pylon unless it’s a game-on-the-line situation. But when you’re in the game, you just feel it.
‘‘I made a play like that in college before, so I’m comfortable extending to the sideline.
“But Mitch made a great throw. I followed the ball. It was placed on my outside. I turned that way, and it led me straight to the pylon.”
It was all part of another day of oohs and aahs and highlight-reel plays for Cohen. He also had his longest punt return of the season, a 44-yarder down to the Packers’ 15 in the fourth quarter. It set up Cody Parkey’s 24-yard field goal.
“I wish I would have scored on it — so bad,” Cohen said. “But I felt it was very important. The punt-return guys have been blocking for me so hard. So finally for me to get a long return for them, it’s great, and it gave the team a lot of momentum.”
It also made up for Cohen’s gaffe on the second play of the fourth quarter. On third-and-one from the Packers’ 25, Cohen was the wildcat quarterback on a play that ended with him losing a fumble. He was indecisive on his handoff to running back Jordan Howard (19 carries, 60 yards, nine-yard touchdown) and lost the ball.
“[Cohen’s] a guy that can make a lot of plays from the backfield,” Nagy said. “He’s a great route runner. He’s energetic.
‘‘Of course, he’s frustrated at the situation with the fumble. But he’s got a great mentality. He’ll be the first to tell you: ‘Let’s go to the next play.’ That’s what I love about him.”
Among other attributes.
Cohen has emerged as a dynamic threat in Nagy’s offense. He had five receptions for 31 yards and five carries for 21 yards. He leads the Bears with 68 catches and 710 receiving yards.
“You never know what No. 29 is going to do,” Trubisky said. “That’s the awesome thing. Returning punts, catching the ball out of the backfield, running the ball, he’s just so hard to defend.”