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3 and out: Breaking down the Bears’ 16-14 win over the Cardinals

September 24, 2018

Breaking down the Bears’ 16-14 come-from-behind win over the Cardinals on Sunday in Arizona.

THREE MOMENTS THAT MATTERED

1. Bryce Callahan’s interception was obviously huge, but let’s go back to Khalil Mack forcing a fumble as Sam Bradford attempted to scramble in the fourth quarter. Not only did it give the ball back to the offense, but it kept the Cardinals from at least getting three points on a day when the Bears were unlikely to get into the end zone again.

2. Let’s just stick with Mack, who should be considered the early favorite to win NFL Defensive Player of the Year. With the Bears scuffling offensively throughout the first half, Mack beat a double team to sack Bradford and knock the Cardinals out of field goal range just before halftime and keep the deficit at 14-3.

3. The Bears were extremely fortunate to escape Arizona with a win considering how poorly Mitch Trubisky played. His first-quarter fumble, which helped the Cardinals build a 14-0 lead, was terrible. Bears coach Matt Nagy is staying positive, but the Bears can’t be considered a contender until Trubisky displays better footwork and pocket presence.

THREE THINGS THAT WORKED

1. Defensive adjustments. The Bears clearly blew coverage assignments twice in the first quarter with both plays going for touchdowns to give Arizona a quick 14-0 lead. The Cardinals didn’t do anything from that point forward, and the defense was dominant for the final three quarters.

2. Getting Jordan Howard involved. His final rushing line wasn’t impressive (24 carries, 61 yards, 1 TD), but the Bears needed to rely on their running back with Trubisky struggling. Howard earned some tough yards with the Cardinals daring the Bears to put the game in Trubisky’s hands.

3. Taking away the run. The best chance the Cardinals had to beat the Bears, besides the Bears beating themselves, was to get running back David Johnson going. The Bears limited him to 31 yards rushing and 61 total yards. Through three weeks, the run defense has been terrific.

THREE THINGS THAT DIDN’T

1. Trubisky’s accuracy. On just one drive in the second quarter Trubisky missed a deep throw to Taylor Gabriel, and then threw behind Allen Robinson just a short time later. Both should have been easy touchdowns. He also never gave Robinson a chance to make a play on a fade route on the drive’s final offensive play. There were a few nices throws sprinkled in, but not nearly enough to feel good about Trubisky’s day.

2. Nagy’s creativity. The Bears’ first-year coach is developing a habit of getting too cute. The ill-fated fade route to Robinson with four wide recivers on the other side of the formation is one example. A shovel pass to Robinson on 4th-and-1 is another. It worked, but it was an unneccesary risk when you have Howard. Also, burning a timeout before kicking the go-ahead field goal in the fourth quarter made zero sense.

3. Setting the tone early. Against one of the worst offenses in the NFL, the Bears were supposed to make life miserable on Bradford. Instead, the Cardinals needed just five plays on the game’s opening drive to take the lead and found themselves up 14-0 before the first quarter ended. The Bears came out flat and a better team would have put them away.

WHAT’S NEXT?

The Bears return home in Week 4 to face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who are off to a 2-0 start and play the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday night.

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