Chicago Bears HC Nagy just wants to win
MINNEAPOLIS – There were a bunch of different ways Bears coach Matt Nagy could have played Sunday’s game against the Vikings.
For instance, he could have pulled his starters as a health precaution when it became obvious the Rams weren’t going to lose to the 49ers, which would have opened up a crack for the Bears to sneak through into the No. 2 seed. They could not have dropped from their No. 3 spot, even with a loss.
But ultimately, Nagy and the Bears just want to win, and they did, 24-10.
“I just love winning,” said Nagy, whose first Bears team has won 12 games, just two less than the franchise won in the three previous years combined. “Let’s just play ball. That’s the fun part; that’s what we’re going to do.”
When the Bears went in at halftime, Nagy was informed that the Rams were leading 28-3, but he didn’t factor that into his thinking.
“I was going off my gut reaction and gut feeling with our guys because it’s not easy,” the first-time head coach said. “You have a lead, you know you’re in (the playoffs) next week, and I wouldn’t feel good to lose a guy in that situation. Those are hard, that’s a valuable experience for me down the road,”
The Bears lost two wide receivers, Anthony Miller in the second quarter and Taylor Gabriel in the third quarter, leaving them without their top three, since Allen Robinson sat out with a rib injury. Robinson is expected back for the playoffs, but it’s too soon to tell with the other two.
Miller may have aggravated a recurring shoulder separation and Gabriel’s injury was to his ribs.
“I feel good about them,” Nagy said. “I can’t be sure just because we have to look at them a little further, but I feel confident that they will be OK.”
Picking up momentum
Don’t look now, but Bears RB Jordan Howard appears to be picking up an impressive head of steam.
Howard powered for 109 yards on 21 carries (5.2-yard average) and a pair of touchdowns to help send the Bears into the playoffs on a four-game win streak and with nine victories in their last 10 games.
It was Howard’s second 100-yard day of the season, and both have come in the past four weeks.
“You have to be able to run the ball, especially when you’re in the environment we’re in here (at noisy U.S. Bank Stadium) with the fans being so loud,” Nagy said. “They had 33 out of 50 sacks this year at home, on the turf with the crowd noise. If you can’t run the football, you’re in trouble being one-dimensional. We did not want to be one-dimensional.”
Howard’s 42-yard scamper, the Bears’ longest run of the season, set up his six-yard TD run that fashioned a 7-0 lead just 4:22 in. His second TD of the day was a one-yard run that gave the Bears a 13-0.
Long road back
A day after being activated from injured reserve with a foot injury suffered in Week Eight, Kyle Long played every snap until less than four minutes remained in the first half. He was replaced the rest of the way by Bryan Witzmann, who had started the previous seven games in Long’s absence.
Long, a three-time Pro Bowl pick, suffered a foot injury in Week Eight and returned to practice two weeks ago.
“I felt good physically,” Long said. “It’s been a long time since I’ve had game reps. I wouldn’t say it’s like riding a bike, but it’s somewhere near that. Probably more like riding a skateboard, some balancing and stuff like that involved. Foot feels good, and I knew I was going to be on a pitch count, so I just tried to make the most of my opportunities and help the team.”
Sitting it out
WR Allen Robinson (ribs), S Eddie Jackson (sprained ankle) and OLB Aaron Lynch (sprained elbow) were among today’s Bears inactives. None of the three practiced all week, and Lynch did not travel with the team on Saturday.
Lynch and Jackson have not practiced since being injured in Week 15. Robinson was injured last week, when he caught six passes for 85 yards. The Bears’ other inactives are FB Michael Burton, OL Rashaad Coward, TE Daniel Brown and DL Nick Williams.
WR Kevin White was active for the first time since Nov. 22 and the second time since Oct. 28, and he caught one pass for 22 yards.
The Vikings’ inactives were QB Kyle Sloter, WR Chad Beebe (hamstring), starting CB Xavier Rhodes (groin), FB C.J. Ham, CB Marcus Sherels (foot), starting MLB Eric Kendricks (hamstring) and DE Tashawn Bower.