Commanders won despite failing to throw for 99 yards. Big performance from their bend but not break defense that held the Bears to 1-4 red zone efficiency.
Commanders vs. Bears score, takeaways: Washington ends four-game skid, beats Chicago thanks to goal-line stand
Washington's defense saved the night for the Commanders
Carson Wentz and the Washington Commanders got back into the win column on Thursday night, as they defeated the Chicago Bears 12-7 in a thrilling ending. The Bears had a chance to score the game-winning touchdown on fourth-and-goal with just seconds remaining, but Darnell Mooney could not haul in a Justin Fields pass at the goal line.
Carson Wentz completed 12 of 22 passes for 99 yards with zero touchdowns and zero interceptions. Justin Fields completed 14 of 27 passes for 190 yards, one touchdown and one interception, and also rushed for 88 yards. Rookie running back Brian Robinson recorded his first career start for Washington, and he rushed 17 times for 60 yards and the game-winning score.
This was a tale of two halves in some ways. With how Washington and Chicago played out the first two quarters, it looked like we may not see a touchdown for the second consecutive Thursday night game. The only points scored in the first half came via a Commanders field goal -- the product of a nine-play, 57-yard drive which included 32 penalty yards. However, things finally somewhat opened up in the second half.
Early in the third quarter, Fields hit Dante Pettis on a deep, 40-yard pass for the first touchdown of the game. Wentz then went to work with a sense of urgency, going 65 yards on 13 plays. However, Scott Turner's offense stalled in the red zone, and the Commanders had to settle for their second field goal of the game. Washington's offense wasn't getting much done, so the special teams had to step up in a pivotal juncture.
On Washington's next possession, Wentz and Co. went three-and-out. Punter Tress Way booted the ball deep, and Bears rookie returner Velus Jones muffed the punt just yards from his own end zone. It was recovered by Washington, and Robinson punched in his first career score two plays later to take a 12-7 lead.
Down five points with just 1:49 remaining in the fourth quarter, Fields and the Bears offense took over. After a 13-yard rush by David Montgomery, Fields scrambled for 39 yards to get to the Washington 5-yard line. Chicago had four plays to try to punch it in, but was unable to.
Let's take a look at what went down in Chicago on Thursday night.
Why the Commanders won
If you were to just look at the box score, it doesn't seem like Washington won this game. That's because the Commanders came up big in big moments. The special teams recovered a muffed punt in the fourth quarter that led to Washington's only touchdown of the game, and then the defense shined at important times.
The Bears scored just seven points on Thursday night. It should have been more, but this Commanders defense held strong with its backs to the wall, and with the game on the line. Chicago had four chances to gain 5 yards and win the game in the fourth quarter, but it was unable to. Darrick Forrest broke up a pass in the end zone on third-and-goal, and then Benjamin St-Juste called game on fourth-and-goal with his defensive stop. We'll talk about that a little bit later.
Why the Bears lost
The Bears recorded 392 yards of total offense compared to the Commanders' 214 yards, but still scored five fewer points. You know what it came down to? The offensive play-calling, and then falling apart in the red zone.
The Bears did go 2-for-2 in the red area against the Minnesota Vikings last week, but they went 0-for-3 in the red zone against the New York Giants two games ago -- and it cost them the game. The Bears took their red zone struggles to a new level on Thursday night, as they went 0-for-3 FROM INSIDE WASHINGTON'S 5-YARD LINE. That's right, the Bears had the ball inside the Commanders' 5-yard line three separate times Thursday night, and came away with ZERO points.
Fields threw an interception on the first trip inside the 5; the Bears were stopped on fourth down at the 1-yard line in the second quarter and then Chicago failed to punch in what could have been the game-winning score in the final stanza. In all seriousness, the Bears would be 4-2 instead of 2-4 if they knew what to do in the red zone.
There's conversations to be had about the Bears offense in general and how they handle Fields as a quarterback, but this game came down to red zone performance.
This game came down to the final play. On fourth-and-goal, St-Juste made this stop on Mooney. It looked like the Bears wideout was across the goal line for a moment, but he hadn't established possession. As Mooney came down, he reeled in the pass, but landed out of bounds and was not over the goal line. It's been said that football is a game of inches.
Play of the game
The Bears would have never had a chance to win the game on fourth-and-goal if it weren't for this play. With 1:06 remaining in the game, Fields scrambled for 39 yards to get Chicago to Washington 5-yard line. This was a pretty incredible sequence that ended up not mattering since the Bears failed in the red zone.
The Commanders return to Washington next week, where they will play host to Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers next Sunday. The Packers host the New York Jets this weekend. As for the Bears, they will remain in the prime-time spotlight next week. They travel to Foxborough to take on the New England Patriots on "Monday Night Football." Bill Belichick takes on his former team in the Cleveland Browns this Sunday.
Washington escapes with a 17-7 win to improve to 2-4 on the season. The Bears fall to 2-4.
Official is saying Goodwin was not across the goal line when he caught the ball. Replay looks like that was the right call. He secured the ball inches from the goal line.
Fields rips a 39-yard run as the Bears are now five yards away from winning the game. Fields showcased his great speed there despite getting hit all night.
Commanders shank the field goal attempt, so Bears have a chance here with 1:49 left.
Washington will likely try to get the ball in McLauren's hands on third down, whether it's a quick pass or a jet sweep, but something low risk.
Bears down to their last timeout at the two-minute warning, so if the Commanders can get 9 more yards, the game is effectively over. I'd expect the Commanders to keep it on the ground and force Washington to use another timeout here on second down.
Robinson rips off a 15-yard run and is up to 57 yards on 15 carries. Looks like he's going to add a big boost to the Commanders' offense.
Bears tried to go for it on 4th-and-11, but a delay of game made it 4th and 16. Fields' pass goes in and out of the hands of Smith-Marsette, but wouldn't have been enough for a first down even if it had been completed.
Bears in Commanders territory with under 4 minutes left. Chicago is staying with the running game behind Montgomery.
Fields has taken a beating tonight and he walking with a limp on this last play. Penalty keeps Bears alive, but Fields is clearly compromised.
Brain Robinson's first career TD. Notice the sick block by Wentz to help Robinson find pay dirt.
Wentz misfires on the two-point try, so score remains 12-7 Commanders with 7:21 left. Commands on top despite being out-gained 304-192 and being just 2 of 10 on third down so far.
Commanders re-gain the lead on Robinson's 1-yard TD run. Washington capitalized on Velus Jones' muffed punt several plays earlier.
In case you missed it, here's a look at the lone TD tonight, which was scored earlier in the second half.
Fields takes a sack on third down. Sweat sacks Fields the manhandled Jones. Bears desperately need an upgrade on the O-line. Would have run there on third-and-1, given how well they've been running tonight and how much the line has struggled to protect Fields.
Washington tacks on a FG after stalling in the red zone. They've gotten decent contribution from Robinson, who has 37 yards on 11 carries tonight.
Really quick quarter. Commanders knocking on the door, down 7-3 entering the fourth.
Commanders now threatening to re-gain the lead. Commanders have just been getting chunk yards, nothing big but consistently moving the ball.
Gorgeous TD pass from Fields to Dante Pettis but Fields paid for it but taking a big hit.
Commanders punt on their first drive of the second half. Good job by Bears defense staying at home and sacking Wentz on third-and-2.
Bears had 131 rushing yards in the first half, but 64 of those were on one carry. That said, the Bears should lean more on the running game given the punishment Fields took in the first half.
Score: Commanders 3, Bears 0
First downs: Bears 10-6
Total yards: Bears 202-88
Third downs: Both teams 1-6
TOP: Bears 17:46
Wentz: 5 of 14, 57 yards, 2 sacks
Fields: 7 of 14, 89 yards, 1 INT, 3 sacks
Herbert: 4 carries, 65 yards
Roquan Smith: 5 tackles, 1 sack
Fields was temporarily down after taking a big hit by Jamin Davis. But he's staying in the game for the Bears' Hail Mary attempt.
Nice scramble for Fields as Chicago tries to get on the board before halftime. They're on their own 40 with two timeouts with 11 seconds left until intermission.
Johnson bounced back from the DPI call by breaking up Wentz's pass for McLaurin in the end zone. Joe Slye scores the half's first points on a 38-yard field goal.
Washington has been the beneficiary of some questionable calls on this drive. Johnson flagged for holding McLaurin, as the Commands are now across midfield. Wentz and Curtis Samuel unable to connect on a deep pass that would have been the game's first score.
Washington's trying to get Scary Terry involved. Just ran him on a jet sweep a series after throwing a quick pass to him that gained a first down on the previous drive.
Washington has been outgained by 123 yards so far. Outgained by the BEARS