CHICAGO — Fortunately for a Bears offense that appears to have a long way to go and a lot of growing pains to endure, it has a defense that can compensate for a lot of its shortcomings – and score touchdowns as well.
Most impressive in Monday night’s 24-17 victory over the Seahawks in the home opener was the Bears’ front seven, which completely dominated the Seahawks’ traditionally weak offensive line throughout the first three quarters. Even when they didn’t sack Wilson, the Bears’ pass rushers, primarily OLB Khalil Mack, pressured him into hurrying his throws. With 1:07 left before halftime, the Seahawks had just 42 yards of total offense, and Wilson had already been sacked five times.
“We want to build something here that’s going to be remembered,” said DL Akiem Hicks, who anchored a run defense that allowed just 74 yards on 22 attempts (3.4-yard average). “We have to be nasty, ferocious, all those words I’ve been throwing at you since OTAs.”
But don’t sleep on the Bears’ secondary, either. Wilson did and it cost him. CB Prince Amukamara anticipated Wilson’s quick outside toss to RB Rashaad Penny, cut in front of the rookie and went 49 yards for a touchdown with 6:37 left. Amukamara’s first interception since 2015 gave the Bears a 24-10 lead just after the Seahawks had trimmed their lead to 17-10.
What went through Amukamara’s mind on his big play?
“Everything becomes silent,” he said, “and all you see is the end zone and it just happened so fast. But then (it was) ‘Don’t get caught by the quarterback.’ He’s one of the most athletic ones, but I was able to cut back. I played running back in high school so I was able to show that.”
The first pick-6 of Amukamara’s eight-year NFL career clinched the win and leveled the Bears record at 1-1, while dropping the visitors to 0-2.
The second half Monday night began much the same way as the first half, with the Bears’ offense struggling to make any headway, but the defense completely shutting down the Seahawks. Bears second-year QB Mitch Trubisky took a 12-yard sack after an illegal formation penalty got the team off to a bad start to open the third quarter. But the defense forced Seattle to go three plays and a punt yet again – the fourth time in five possessions.
The Bears’ defense made it 5-for-6 the next time Seattle got the ball, as the visitors managed just two yards on their obligatory three plays.
Finally the Bears’ offense shifted out of neutral, grinding out a 66-yard TD drive on 11 dink-and-dunk plays, mixing short passes and runs before Trubisky rolled left and fired a strike to rookie WR Anthony Miller for a 10-yard TD and a 17-3 lead with 14:15 remaining. At that point, the Seahawks had just 80 yards of total offense.
“That’s just a glimpse,” said veteran ILB Danny Trevathan, who had two of the Bears’ six sacks including a sack-strip late in the fourth quarter that stymied a Seahawks comeback attempt. “We’re just getting started, and we’re feeling good, so we’re going to keep it rolling.”
The Bears other sacks went to OLBs Mack and Aaron Lynch, NT Eddie Goldman and S Eddie Jackson.
Even when Trubisky was intercepted on consecutive possessions in the second quarter, the defense didn’t allow the Seahawks to take advantage or cut into their 7-0 lead. After the first interception, at the Seattle 24, on a ball that was underthrown to Allen Robinson deep down the sideline, the Bears’ ‘D’ forced the Seahawks to go three-and-out.
Midway through the second quarter, a Trubisky pass was tipped near the line of scrimmage, and Shaquill Griffin made a diving catch for his second interception of the quarter. On the Seahawks’ first play, Wilson was swarmed by a host of Bears and finally brought down by Jackson for his first career sack. Two plays later, Mack swatted the ball out of Wilson’s cocked right arm for a 10-yard sack, forcing another Seattle punt after three plays.
When Seahawks rookie P Michael Dickson shanked an 11-yard boot out of bounds, the Bears took advantage – kind of. Trubisky scrambled to buy time and then lofted a 17-yard pass to Cohen, who made a nice adjustment to the overhead lob. But the Bears settled for Cody Parkey’s 25-yard field goal, which was matched 67 seconds later by Sebastian Janikowski’s 56-yard boot as time expired in the first half with the Bears leading 10-3.
A defensive focus all week was to finish after the Week One collapse in Green Bay.
“It was a motivator throughout the week,” Trevathan said. “But we knew that this was important because it’s the next game, and it’s our first home game, we wanted to make a statement.”