It looked for a while as if Bears coach Matt Nagy might have gotten a little too cute for his own good against the Packers.
Leading 14-6, just past the midway point of the third quarter and faced with a fourth-and-2 at the Green Bay 49-yard line, Nagy sent out the punt team. But the snap went directly to personal protector Benny Cunningham, who was stuffed for a one-yard loss. It took the Packers 2:10 to tie the game on Jamaal Williams’ 10-yard run and a two-point conversion pass from Aaron Rodgers to Davante Adams.
Swing and a miss, but Nagy owned it.
“I’ve told you, at times, we’re going to be aggressive,” he said. “We really haven’t had that all year long, those situations. And those are the ones, you’re going to come up here and crush me, in a loss, and that’s OK, I understand that.”
Nagy wasn’t finished.
On their next possession, the Bears had third-and-1 at the Packers’ 23-yard line early in the fourth quarter and lined up RB Tarik Cohen as the Wildcat quarterback with QB Mitch Trubisky split wide. Cohen fumbled a potential handoff to Jordan Howard, and the Packers’ Dean Lowry recovered, snuffing out an excellent scoring chance. Again Nagy didn’t back down.
“That’s what we’re going to do,” he said. “That’s not going to change. I accept that, I understand that, and that’s who we are.”
As usual, Tarik Cohen was worth the price of admission, though not everything he did was positive.
After lining up as the Wildcat quarterback but losing a fumble on an option play where he could have handed to Jordan Howard or kept the ball, Cohen redeemed himself. His 44-yard punt return with 9:12 left in the game set up Cody Parkey’s 24-yard field goal, which gave the Bears a 24-14 lead.
“Of course he’s frustrated with the fumble, but he’s got a great mentality,” coach Matt Nagy said. “He’ll be the fist to tell you, ‘Let’s go to the next play.’ That’s what I love about him.”
Cohen had a team-high five catches for 31 yards, including a 12-yard TD and ran five times for 21 yards. He leads the Bears with 68 receptions and seven touchdowns (five receiving, two rushing). He leads the NFL with 413 punt-return yards and is third with a 13.3-yard average.
“He does what he does all the time,” Nagy said. “He’s a guy that can make a lot of plays from the backfield, and he’s a great route-runner.”
Khalil Mack had a season-high 2.5 sacks and has 12.5 for the season, the most for a Bears player since 1993, when Richard Dent also had 12.5 in 1993. The only player in Bears history with more sacks than Mack in a single season is Dent, who also had 12.5 sacks in 1987, set the team record with 17.5 in 1984, and added 17 in ‘85. … TE Trey Burton’s TD catch was his sixth of the season but his first in six weeks. He finished with four catches for 36 yards. … OLB Leonard Floyd had two sacks, doubling his season total to four. It was the fourth two-sack game of his three-year career.
Sitting it out:
Bears OLB Aaron Lynch suffered an elbow injury late in the third quarter and did not return. WR Allen Robinson (hip), S Eddie Jackson (shin) and DE Bilal Nichols, all of whom were questionable on Friday’s injury report, all were active, as expected, but Jackson left late with an ankle injury. Nichols was limited in Friday’s practice, and Jackson was held out, but both were considered maintenance-type moves. Robinson was a full participant on Friday.
The Bears’ inactives vs. the Packers were WRs Kevin White and Javon Wims, FB Michael Burton, OLB Kylie Fitts, QB Tyler Bray, OL Rashaad Coward and DL Nick Williams. White, the seventh overall pick in 2015, was a healthy scratch for the fifth time in six weeks and remains with just three catches for 70 yards, the last of which occurred in Week Eight.
Among the inactives for the Packers were two starters, DT Kenny Clark (elbow) and OT Bryan Bulaga (knee), along with QB Tim Boyle, CB Natrell Jamerson, OG Nico Siragusa, OL Adam Pankey and LB Kendall Donnerson. No. 1 RB Aaron Jones left in the first quarter with a knee injury after carrying four times for eight yards and did not return.