After taking a 28-3 lead into halftime, the visiting Chicago Bears withstood a late Redskins‘ comeback bid to post a 31-15 victory on “Monday Night Football.” The Bears are now 2-1 through three weeks, while the Redskins fall to 0-3 and 0-2 at FedExField.
Chicago’s defense set the tone early, as Ha Ha Clinton-Dix 37-yard pick six for touchdown with 9:42 left in first quarter jumpstarted the scoring. With his defense on a roll, Bears quarterback Mitchell Tribusky also enjoyed a stellar first half, going 20 of 23 for 150 yards and three scores in the game’s first 30 minutes that included three touchdown passes to receiver Taylor Gabriel.
Gabriel, a six-year veteran who had just 11 career touchdowns entering Monday night’s game, became the first Bears players since Hall of Fame running back Gale Sayers to score three touchdowns in one quarter.
Khalil Mack, the Bears’ All-Pro linebacker, also put his mark on the game, recording two sack and two forced fumbles in the first half. His second sack/forced fumble set up Gabriel’s second touchdown catch that gave the Bears a 21-0 second quarter lead.
Washington quarterback Case Keenum endured a dreadful first half, throwing three interceptions that led to 14 Bears points. He bounced back in the second half, however, as his touchdown passes to Terry McLaurin and Paul Richardson cut the deficit to 13 points. McLaurin, a rookie out of Ohio State, has scored touchdowns in each of his first three NFL games.
The Bears’ defense ended the Redskins’ comeback bid with 7:02 minutes left, when linebacker Danny Trevathan stuffed Keenum’s sneak attempt on fourth and one at Chicago’s 16-yard-line. His hit caused a fumble that was recovered by safety Eddie Jackson. Chicago tacked on a field goal to put the game on ice with 1:50 left.
Despite the loss, the Redskins still hold a 26-24-3 all-time lead in the series. Monday was the first time the two teams had ever faced on “Monday Night Football.”
Let’s take a deeper dive into how the Bears ran away with things on “Monday Night Football:”
Why the Bears won
Have you seen their defense? If you didn’t watch Monday’s game, just imagine Khalil Mack wreaking havoc on an opposing team’s quarterback like he normally does — and then imagine pretty much everyone else on his side of the ball kicking the Redskins all over the field. Trubisky, who’s been under fire for some poor performances this season, seemed as if he were itching to give Washington a comeback opportunity at points late in the game, but it didn’t matter. His mostly efficient night, boosted by Taylor Gabriel (three scores) and Allen Robinson out wide, was backed even more by a 60 minutes to remember from the “D.” Three picks. Three sacks. Two fumble recoveries. One touchdown. If not for some coverage lapses against Terry McLaurin and Paul Richardson, it may very well have been the closest thing to a perfect outing for that unit, which was terrorizing in 2018 but pretty much confirmed its dominance remains intact on Monday night.
Why the Redskins lost
Because as tempting as it may have been to believe Case Keenum was going to outdo Trubisky in a tragic rally befitting of the Bears, Keenum was absolutely demolished by Chicago — figuratively and literally. Rushed to get rid of the ball behind Washington’s porous and Trent Williams-less O-line, he was lucky to complete 30 passes — and finish with no more than five turnovers. Meanwhile, Jay Gruden couldn’t find a way to scheme Adrian Peterson into open holes, and Josh Norman showed the world on prime time that his run as a shutdown corner might officially be over, if it hadn’t already ended long ago. From poor coaching to ugly execution, it was all bad, all around.
Chicago was already dancing all over FedEx Field by the time Keenum took the field with the Redskins down 14-0 in the second quarter following Trubisky’s second TD throw to Gabriel. But things really swung in the Bears’ favor when Mack came around the edge and did what he does best on the first and only official play of Washington’s ensuing drive, strip-sacking Keenum to give the Bears the ball at the Redskins’ 11-yard line. Two snaps later, Chicago was up 21-0 with a lead too big to blow and Washington demoralized, with the home crowd chanting for first-rounder Dwayne Haskins to take over at QB.
Play of the game
This play wasn’t necessarily sexy, but it might never be forgotten. With Washington forging a potential comeback attempt halfway through the fourth quarter, the Redskins trailing by just 13 points with more than seven minutes to play and D.C. in the red zone on a fourth-and-one, the ‘Skins dialed up a QB sneak for Keenum. Not a bad call, right? Except Keenum was either told — or thought on his own — to leap over the pile as if at the goal line and extend the ball away from his body. This, of course, gave the Bears an easy opportunity for a fifth turnover, and they didn’t waste it, putting a fittingly embarrassing cherry on top of Washington’s night.
“We’ve got to stick together. That’s all we can do. We’re in this together. Teams win and lose every week. We happened to lose our first three.”
Those words from Gruden may be true, but they also read like a head coach trying to do the best he can to sell his continued employment. When asked whether he’s considering a change at QB to give Haskins a chance under center, however, Gruden was rather adamant before expressing confidence that Keenum can be more efficient in his system with more practice: “Not really, no. I can’t be changing people every five minutes here.”
The Bears (2-1) will get a much tougher test on Sunday, Sept. 29, when they host the rival Minnesota Vikings (2-1) at 4:25 p.m. The Redskins (0-3), meanwhile, will hit the road to take on their own rivals, the Daniel Jones-led New York Giants (1-2), that same day at 1 p.m.
Re-live all Monday night’s action by checking out on in-game coverage below: