Bears beat Panthers for consecutive wins, match 2016 total
CHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago Bears managed to string back-to-back victories for the first time since 2015 and matched last season’s win total.
Coach John Fox wasn’t sure what to make of that.
“I don’t know if that’s really a benchmark for us, to be honest,” he said.
Considering the Bears went 3-13 a year ago, matching last year’s win total isn’t exactly a huge accomplishment. Even so, they’ll take the victories that are starting to come their way.
Rookie safety Eddie Jackson became the first player to score multiple defensive TDs of 75 yards or more in a game, leading the Bears to a 17-3 victory over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.
Jackson returned a fumble recovery 75 yards on the game’s opening possession and returned an interception of Cam Newton 76 yards for a score early in the second quarter to give Chicago a 14-0 lead. He became the first Bears player since Fred Evans in 1948 — and the first NFL player since Tennessee’s Zach Brown in 2012 — with two defensive TDs in a game.
Jackson also is the only rookie in NFL history with two 75-yard defensive touchdowns in a season.
The Panthers (4-3) dominated the Bears in just about every statistical category. That didn’t stop Chicago (3-4) from winning its second straight game and handing Carolina its second loss in a row.
Here are some things to know:
BALANCING ACT: Jackson was hardly the lone contributor on Chicago’s defense.
Danny Trevathan had one of Chicago’s five sacks to go with his first career interception, and the Bears came out on top even though Carolina dominated statistically.
The Panthers held huge advantages in yards (293-153), time of possession (38:35-21:25), offensive plays (69-37) and first downs (20-5), because of Chicago’s inability to move the chains.
“I thought the defense today played lights out,” tight end Zach Miller said. “They’re bringing that ‘Monsters of the Midway’ back. They’re making plays, flying around, crowd was into it and feeding off their energy.”
TRUBISKY WATCH: The Bears continue to keep things simple for rookie Mitchell Trubisky.
Though he did throw a 70-yard pass to Tarik Cohen, the No. 2 overall pick was 4 of 7 for 107 yards. Trubisky is 24 for 48 with 348 yards since he took over for Mike Glennon, and knows he has to perform better. Playing with a depleted wide receiver corps isn’t making things any easier for him.
His only completion to one on Sunday was Tanner Gentry’s 8-yarder. Trubisky has completed three passes to wide receivers the past two weeks.
“We’re just finding ways to win games,” Trubisky said. “We had more pass plays called. I was just pulling them down, being conservative and taking sacks. I was just trying to play smart, protect the football and get out of here with a win.”
HANG ON: Newton threw for 211 yards and ran for a team-high 50. But he now has more interceptions (10) than touchdowns (nine) after getting picked off twice against Chicago.
“We were very methodical,” coach Ron Rivera said. “We moved the ball, then we got into certain situations and they bulled their necks and did some good things defensively, and offensively they did what they needed to do.”
GAINING NO GROUND: Newton’s scrambles aside, the Panthers continue to get little from their run game. Jonathan Stewart and Christian McCaffery combined for 58 yards on 21 carries behind a banged-up line.
“The injuries aside, we still have to get the job done,” Newton said. “And offensively we didn’t. We didn’t get an opportunity to get in the red zone and that’s unacceptable. And we will and have to get better.”
PICK DROUGHT: While the Bears have picked off two passes in each of the past two games, the Panthers have one all season. It was by Luke Kuechly in a season-opening win at San Francisco.
“The old cliché, they come in bunches and they will,” defensive end Julius Peppers said. “Other than that, we are playing pretty damn good defense.”