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By Less Than a Yard, Commanders Hang on for 12-7 Win Over Bears

By less than a yard, the Commanders held on to claim a 12-7 Thursday night win over the Chicago Bears in Washington.

Trailing, 12-7, with 35 seconds to play, QB Justin Fields drove the Bears down to the Commanders’ 4-yard line. But on fourth-and-goal, a pass to WR Darnell Mooney was bobbled and then hauled in inches from the goal line, leaving Chicago agonizingly close to victory and both teams at 2-4 after six games.

 

Chicago Fumbles It Away

Whether it was in an offense-starved first half or a slightly faster-paced second half, the Bears spent much of the contest looking like the better team, but they fumbled away the advantages it had and gave the Commanders extra chances. In the fourth quarter, that became literal when Bears punt returner Velus Jones Jr. flubbed a punt and  the Commanders recovered it at the Chicago 6-yard line. Two plays later, rookie running back Brian Robinson Jr., in just his second game since returning to the team, scored his first career touchdown that gave the Commanders the final margin.

Chicago might not have been in that situation had it converted on either of a pair of opportunities in the first half. On the team’s second and third possessions, the Bears drove within 5 yards of the end zone. But on the first of those two, a Fields pass hit a lineman and was intercepted by Washington’s Jonathan Allen. And on the second, the Bears were stuffed by the Commanders’ front on a fourth-down run from the 1-yard line.

Despite the miscues, Chicago still nearly took the win in the final moments on that drive authored by Fields.

Ron Rivera Not Happy After Win

Getting his team’s second win of the season wasn’t enough to please Commanders coach Ron Rivera, who provided more fireworks in his post-game press conference than the two offenses provided all night.

Rivera angrily reacted to a report by ESPN that it was owner Daniel Snyder who hand-picked QB Carson Wentz and directed the team to trade for him in the offseason.

“Everybody keeps wanting to say I didn’t want anything to do with Carson,” Rivera told reporters. “Well, (expletive). I’m the (expletive) guy that pulled out the sheets of paper, that looked at the analytics, that watched the tape and freaking — when we were in Indianapolis. And that’s what pisses me off. Because the young man doesn’t deserve to have that all the time. I’m sorry, I’m done.”

Earlier in the week, it was Rivera who had said the problem on his team was the quarterback. He later backtracked on those comments.

Wentz, by the way, improved his record on Thursday nights to 7-0 and his career mark against the Bears to 4-0.

Get There Late? You Didn’t Miss Much

On Thursday night in Week 5, the Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos spent four quarters and overtime fighting offensive futility. In a game that featured no touchdowns, the Colts earned a 12-9 victory. Yet that contest was an offense-packed barn-burner compared to what occurred a week later.

Through the first half, the Bears and Commanders not only failed to reach the end zone, but they nearly fought to a scoreless tie. That fate was avoided when Washington’s Joey Slye hit a 38-yard field goal, but it took until only 46 seconds remained before the break for points to appear on the scoreboard.

Seven of the 11 first-half possessions ended in punts, as the defenses dominated the game. Washington managed just 88 yards, and while Chicago more than doubled that with 202 yards, it had only those two failed drives near Washington’s goal line to show for it.

The second half offered modest improvement, as the teams combined to break 300 yards while punting just three times. But were it not for the fumbled punt return and one other big play, a second straight Thursday would have come and gone without a touchdown.

One Massive, Streak-Snapping Throw

While the vast majority of drives came and went without a highlight, there was one play that got fans out of the seats. In the third quarter, on the team’s first possession of the half, Fields launched a 40-yard touchdown pass to Dante Pettis on the left edge of the end zone.

That play snapped a streak of more than six TNF quarters without a touchdown, a stretch that spanned 45 possessions and dated back to the final minutes of Week 4’s contest.

Commanders’ Pass Rush Had a Field(s) Day

Chicago’s offensive line, one of the worst at protecting its quarterback last season, hadn’t shown much improvement through five weeks of the 2022 NFL season. Fields came into the game having been sacked 18 times, tied for fourth-most in the NFL, and he spent plenty of time on the ground or running for his life against the Commanders.

Washington got to him five times in the game, and the Commanders had 12 hits on the second-year quarterback. There were injury concerns after some of those hits, as Fields was slow to get up on multiple occasions and could be seen grimacing, particularly after taking a helmet hit to the chest just before the end of the first half. Even on his touchdown pass to Pettis, Fields was on the receiving end of a hit, laying on the ground as Pettis got his feet in.

Five different Commanders finished with a sack, including Montez Sweat, who terrorized the Chicago blockers and picked up four hits on Fields in the game, one more than teammate Efe Obada.

The sack total could have been much higher for Sweat and the Commanders had Fields not displayed his considerable running ability to escape danger. He ran for his life throughout the contest, and managed to turn some of those plays into positive gains and even first downs. He finished with a team-high 88 yards rushing on 12 carries, including this beauty to give Chicago a final chance at the win.

 

 

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