Linebacker Pernell McPhee has become Bears’ leader, voice

SHARE Linebacker Pernell McPhee has become Bears’ leader, voice
SHARE Linebacker Pernell McPhee has become Bears’ leader, voice

To quote “The Blues Brothers,” Bears outside linebacker Pernell McPhee is on a mission from God, and he wants to know who is coming with him.

“I’m on mission; that’s the my emotion,” McPhee said.

His goal?

“Playoffs. Win. Turn it around.”

That may sound like emotions talking after Robbie Gould kicked a 49-yard field goal in the final seconds for the Bears’ 22-20 victory against the Raiders on Sunday.

But McPhee has quickly become the Bears’ voice. He’s turned into the leader the Bears never had during Marc Trestman’s two-year run.

During a meeting Saturday at the team hotel, McPhee told all players to lock arms as he made an impassioned speech.

“He said, ‘If you’re not going play with the guy beside you, unlock your arms,’ ” defensive lineman Jarvis Jenkins said. “That really hit home with a lot of us.

“He made a comment like, ‘I bet everybody doesn’t know everybody’s name. That’s what’s wrong with us. We got to change that.’

“Everybody played for each other today.”

The defense was particularly impressive. The Raiders had only 243 net yards of offense, and quarterback Derek Carr had 196 yards passing after having 314 and 351 in his previous two games. Star rookie receiver Amari Cooper had a highlight-reel, 26-yard touchdown catch, but finished with 49 yards receiving after totaling 243 in the last two weeks.

The Bears forced three three-and-outs and almost had a fourth were it not for cornerback Tracy Porter’s penalty for illegal use of hands. The Raiders scored 13 points on possessions following the Bears’ three turnovers.

McPhee, of course, was a difference-maker. He tackled running back Latavius Murray for no gain on the Raiders’ first offensive play and later intercepted a bobbled pass by Murray late in the second quarter. It was McPhee’s first career interception.

McPhee’s best play was stopping running back Roy Helu Jr. for a one-yard loss on third-and-2 on the Bears’ 22 with 2:50 remaining. McPhee powered through tight end Clive Walford for the tackle, which held the Raiders to a field goal.

“It was just me watching film and seeing that play coming,” McPhee said. “I knew the exact play they were going to run.”

To Bears players, McPhee is playing up to his own words, which makes him easy to follow.

“If you’re a leader and you’re talking about making big plays when it happens, you got to do it,” said Jenkins, who had a sack. “That’s what he did.”

The signing of McPhee looks better for general manager Ryan Pace with every game. McPhee has proven to be an every-down starter after being a rotational player for the Ravens, but also a brash, come-get-some source of inspiration.

McPhee’s “dog” mindset has become the Bears’ mindset.

“He brings the fire. He brings the wood,” said outside linebacker Sam Acho, who had a fumble recovery. “And we feed off of it.”

Coach John Fox said McPhee has brought “a certain mindset that was needed.” Veteran safety Antrel Rolle said McPhee’s speech was “a very heartfelt message that we needed to hear.”

Porter said it reminded him of his time with the Saints during their Super Bowl run in 2009.

“What we just did, that’s the message,” said McPhee, who was credited with a team-best eight tackles. “When we lock arms, we’re going to win.

“We’ve got to make sure those arms stay locked the rest of the season, and we can do damage.”

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