CHICAGO – The 2019 NFL MVP was ill Sunday and did not play. With no Lamar Jackson, the Baltimore Ravens trotted out an undrafted quarterback named Tyler Huntley, who had never started a game and had just 16 NFL pass attempts to his name.
The Bears defense should’ve been licking its chops, and it was for most of the game.
The defense held Huntley, who played college ball at Utah, in check and held the Ravens out of the end zone for 59 minutes and 38 seconds. It was the final drive that completely flipped the script in the Ravens’ win, 16-13, on Sunday at Soldier Field.
Bears receiver Marquise Goodwin scored on a 49-yard touchdown pass from Andy Dalton with 1:48 remaining in the game, giving the Bears a lead, 13-9. The defense had to like its chances after holding Baltimore to three field goals in the game.
Then everything fell apart.
Cornerback Kindle Vildor was flagged for defensive pass interference. Ravens receiver Devin Duvernay gained 21 yards to push the Ravens into Bears’ territory. The defense completely lost track of receiver Sammy Watkins on a 29-yard pass from Huntley.
There was an obvious breakdown on the Watkins catch, which brought the Ravens to the 3-yard line.
“You’re at a point right there where you’ve got guys in there that have got to be able to communicate,” Bears coach Matt Nagy said.
It all set up an easy touchdown run from running back Devonta Freeman.
“Well it’s sickening,” Bears outside linebacker Robert Quinn said. “I’ll just put it that way. It’s a punch to the guy. We had the lead. The Ravens had the ball, it was on the defense to close it out and we didn’t do that.”
The Bears held the Ravens under 300 yards for the day, albeit only slightly at 299. They hit Huntley nine times, including six sacks. Quinn recorded 3.5 sacks, bringing his season total to 10 sacks in 10 games. Inside linebacker Roquan Smith recorded a career-high 17 tackles.
And it all was for naught. The second-year pro quarterback who had never started a game stunned a defense that played well all game long, despite missing Khalil Mack, Eddie Jackson and Akiem Hicks.
“If I was feeling the pressure, we probably wouldn’t even have won this game,” Huntley said. “You’ve just got to go with the flow about winning the game. We knew we had to go down there and score.”
Huntley found out he was starting as he was walking to the bus at the team hotel. He looked down and saw a text from Jackson telling him to go out and do his thing.
The Bears lost their fifth consecutive game, and their second during which the defense surrendered a lead in the final minutes. Quinn said there was no panic in the huddle, but there were obviously some major breakdowns on that final drive – which went 72 yards on five plays and needed only 1:19 of game time.
“When a play call is called, everybody has a one 11th,” Quinn said. “Do your one 11th. If you didn’t do your one 11th, you get called out. Don’t be sensitive. Get yourself fixed and get it right.”