CHICAGO – What mattered far more than anything else Sunday at Soldier Field is the Chicago Bears got a 24-14 win over the Detroit Lions.
Most of the postmortems will focus on Justin Fields and overreactions to what he did well and what he struggled with – there was plenty of both – along with play-calling, who called them, how much the win really means and a host of other concerns.
But the Bears had to have a win to save their season, even if the reprieve proves to be temporary.
They got it, but the price was steep.
Defensive tackle Akiem Hicks went down with a groin injury on the first play of the game and is likely looking at more lost games as groins are notoriously difficult to heal.
Running back David Montgomery went down late in the game, writhing on the ground in pain and holding his left knee.
Khalil Mack, who missed much of practice last week with a bum foot, was hurt late in the second quarter with an as yet unspecified injury, and while he did come back and play in the second half and record a sack of Jared Goff he took more snaps off than he handled.
It is also important to note if you’re reporting objectively, the Lions are a really bad football team.
Even with that, a game the Bears should have put away after going up 21-0 on their first possession of the third quarter was still in doubt with 4:15 to play and with the Lions at the Bears’ 8-yard line, down 24-14.
On fourth-and-1, the Bears got a stop to turn the Lions away and pump some oxygen back into the stadium.
Detroit was its own worst enemy, getting points only once on five trips inside the red zone. Actually, all five trips were inside the 10-yard line and two of those drives ended in fumbles.
But, again, the Bears needed a win and they got it.
They also needed a head coach rather than two offensive coordinators, and they got that, too.
It took a few tries, but head coach Matt Nagy finally acknowledged that it was offensive coordinator Bill Lazor calling plays Sunday.
“Bill did a great job,” Nagy said. “I think that in the same point in time it’s important that we understand that I felt good out there as a head coach.
“But we all get together, we talk through how we’re going to call the game, and we do that when I’m calling plays, too. Us, as a staff, we get together, so I think that’s important for everybody to know.
“Then, in the end, I have a great opportunity to say, ‘Yes, I like this,’ or, ‘No, I don’t,’ as the head coach, in charge of all that. That’s real.”
If it feels like the boss is saying when he’s calling plays if things go bad it’s not all on him, and when he’s not and things go well he shares the credit.
At least that’s how it sounds to me.
But, hey, Nagy’s main focus in a much longer explanation focused mainly on him being the head coach. That’s clearly a good thing.
If he’s still being a bit stubborn about his play calling we can worry about that later.
There’s no question Nagy went all in on this one.
Winning the opening toss he took the ball rather than deferring – with his offense and his defense.
That the Bears scored on the opening drive and then held the Lions to start the second half before mounting their third TD drive for that 21-0 lead was a blessing, but had it gone differently he certainly would have been roasted.
As for Fields, he played very well in comparison to last week’s disaster. It was great to see him bounce back as he did, but had it been his first NFL start we’d just be saying, ‘OK, something to build on.’
But Rome wasn’t built in a day. Considering all that was at stake, the Bears did what they had to do.
Let’s give them their gold star and get off their backs for a few days because next week in Las Vegas the stakes get a lot higher, and the test gets a lot more real.