The Chicago Bears may be celebrating like they won the Super Bowl, but it’s because victory has eluded them for 14 games prior to taking down the Washington Commanders on Thursday night.
Chicago had not won a football game since Oct. 24, 2022 coming into this one – a team record – but quarterback Justin Fields led the offense to an explosive first half that ultimately ended with a 40-20 win.
Fields would not have been able to get it done without his top receiver D.J. Moore, who ended with 230 yards and three touchdowns, including the dagger late in the fourth quarter – a 56-yard score on a risky Commanders jump on a short route.
However, Bears fans weren’t so sure the game was locked up despite a 27-3 lead going into halftime. Last week against the Denver Broncos, the Bears blew a 21-7 lead at the half for their fourth loss of the season in an absolute heartbreaker.
Sam Howell and the Commanders’ offense had just 84 yards of total offense in the first half of this game, but they made some corrections in the second half that got this one closer.
It was started with a touchdown pass to tight end Logan Thomas, who was Howell’s top target of the night with nine catches and 77 yards, to start the second half on the right foot. That made it 27-10 and it was up to Washington’s defense to keep Fields at bay.
The Commanders turned the heat up on the Bears even more when Curtis Samuel found the end zone after a 12-play, 75-yard drive to make it a 30-20 game. Chicago was forced to punt on a three-and-out on the next drive, giving the Commanders the life they needed in the fourth quarter.
However, Commanders kicker Joey Slye took the air out of FedEx Field when he missed a 46-yard field goal that would’ve brought the Commanders within a touchdown.
Seeing their opportunity, Fields found Moore for that 56-yard strike, and the taste of victory was on the tip of the tongues of a Bears team that has been desperate for one.
Moore’s first half was something to behold, as the Bears got out to another hot start. He caught a 58-yard bomb down the left sideline to Washington’s 16-yard line on just the third play of the game, and moments later, Fields threw an absolute dot to Moore in the back left of the end zone for a quick six points.
On the team’s next drive, Moore ran a simple curl route where Fields put it right on his chest for a completion. It looked like the Commanders corner that was covering Moore was going to take him down the second he caught the ball.
However, the tackle was poor and Moore made Washington pay. He slipped the tackle and hit the jets down the right sideline for a 39-yard completion instead of the seven yards he was expected to get.
That fired up the Bears who continued moving the ball down the field into Washington territory. On 3rd-and-6 on Washington’s 11, Fields trusted Moore once more, lofting a fade pass to the back of the end zone.
All but 52 yards from Fields were attributed to No. 2, as the Ohio State product finished 15 of 29 for 282 yards with four touchdown passes.
The Bears’ defense was also good at getting to Howell, who was the most-sacked quarterback in the league entering the game with 24 sacks. Chicago made sure that total rose, adding five more sacks on Howell.
Howell finished the game 37 for 51 for 388 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Samuel had six catches for 65 yards, while running back Antonio Gibson also had 64 yards through the air. The run game, which has been working for Washington, was stopped in its tracks with Brian Robinson Jr. collecting just 10 yards on six carries.
With one under the belt for the 2023 season, the Bears will look to start a winning streak when they return to Soldier Field to face the Minnesota Vikings in a NFC North matchup next Sunday.
The Commanders will hit the road to face off against the Atlanta Falcons next Sunday.