Washington Commanders survive Chicago Bears' late charge in victory

Washington Commanders survive Chicago Bears’ late charge in victory

CHICAGO – The Washington Commanders improved to 2-4 after beating the Chicago Bears (2-4) 12-7 on a windy Thursday night in Chicago.

Commanders won’t apologize for the aesthetics. They didn’t need to look good, they just needed to win. And that’s all they did.

Whether or not that win over the Bears steers their season in the right direction remains to be seen. There is still a lot of work to do after this victory. They’re committing too many penalties — 27 in three games. They don’t score many points – 47 in the last four games.

But, for now, it allows the Commanders (2-4) to breathe after losing four straight games. For a franchise in which each week seems to bring a new set of problems, winning brings a much-needed balm.

Pivot play: Midway through the fourth quarter, Washington punted after yet again failing to convert on third down. But it turned out to be a beneficial decision. Returner Velus Jones Jr. fumbled the punt and rookie Christian Holmes recovered the ball at the 6-yard line. Two points from rookie Brian Robinson later, Washington took a 12-7 lead. Robinson’s first run gained five yards, helped in part by a block from Wentz after the rookie cut to the outside.

QB Breakdown: Wentz’s lack of mobility limits the offense. It’s not just blitzes. He struggles to extend games. Washington also threw him on what looked like a red-zone power sweep, a curious call given how he works these days. Wentz hurt his hand and came in with a bad shoulder, which could have hurt his passing on a windy night. He had two passes dropped by Curtis Samuel, including one that would have put them inside the Bears 10-yard line. But, at the end of the day, he has to play better if this attack is to generate points – and hope.

Promising trend: Defensive end Montez Sweat was the bagless hero for the first four games of the season. There were times when he got close, but needed a little more help from the cover to finish the piece. He’s had that assist in the last two games and has three sacks and eight quarterback hits. Sweat checked a sack and harassed Justin Fields numerous times. If Washington is going to make some noise the rest of the season, they need Sweat to continue to be a force.

Disturbing trend: Third try. In their last four games, Washington has converted just 14 of 54 third downs, a function of an immobile quarterback and an offense seemingly unprepared to handle blitzes. Teams know Washington likes to run crossers, so they often take that option away, but they also know Wentz will struggle against him. pressure. Washington needs to give Wentz more help in these situations.

Underestimated statistics namely: Leading 3-0 at the break, Washington’s 88 yards in the first half were the lowest this season by a team at halftime.

Next game: versus. Packers (1 p.m. ET, Oct. 23)

The Bears are the second team this season to exceed 390 yards on offense and score less than 10 points in a game. Chicago left 14 points on the board in the first half and couldn’t finish the job when Fields had the offense in game-winning position on the Bears’ final drive, which ended just short of the line. aim.

On that play, Fields connected with wide receiver Darnell Mooney, who caught the ball around a Washington defender but missed, and Fields left running back David Montgomery open in the flat. on the other side of the field.

Same problems, different game. And it goes beyond quarterbacking.

Fields had 18 pressures on Thursday, tied for his most in a game of his career. Fields has now been pressured on 46% of his retirements this season. It’s the highest rate of pressure a QB has faced in his first six games since ESPN began tracking pressure in 2009.

QB Breakdown: Fields’ strong second-half performance at Minnesota did not continue Thursday night. The Bears made two trips inside the red zone in the first half, the first of which resulted in Fields’ first interception inside the 20-yard line after throwing a ball into the helmet of the defensive lineman for Commanders Efe Obada, who was picked up by teammate Jonathan Allen. The Bears’ next practice ended with another scoreless trip inside the red zone. Fields had tight end Ryan Griffin wide open in the end zone and sailed a ball past him on second-and-3 at the 3-yard line. Griffin had 4.05 yards of separation on that play, according to Next Gen Stats. Chicago had another trip inside the red zone, set up by the longest run of Fields’ career — an 88-yard run in the fourth quarter — that ended with Darnell Mooney catching and throwing a pass just before the goal line. Those three trips inside the red zone without a score equal the most trips to the red zone without a score in a game since 2000.

Bold prediction: Dante Pettis will return punts against the Patriots. Rookie Velus Jones Jr. has handled all of Chicago’s return duties since making his debut in Week 4. But a fumble on a punt return that allowed Washington to win the ball back at the 6-yard line of Chicago and scoring two plays later — after a missed punt against the Giants with two minutes left crushed any realistic chance of a comeback — will force the Bears to reconsider who they have deep on the punt return.

Silver Lining: The Bears will not play again until October 11. 24, giving them a full 10 days of recovery before facing the New England Patriots in Foxborough. Guards Lucas Patrick (concussion) and Teven Jenkins (shoulder) both briefly left the game in the third quarter, leading to a reshuffle up front that brought Michael Schofield III off the bench before the two returned . Fields will feel the effects of being hit more than 11 times and taking four sacks. He was slow to get up after a few crushing blows to the ribs and appeared to injure his left shoulder in the second half.

Disturbing trend: Chicago’s pass rush has been virtually non-existent. Going into Week 6, the Bears had a 28% pressing rate (19th), a 5% sack rate (22nd) and just eight sacks (tied for 25th). They upped that latter number against Carson Wentz, sacking the Washington quarterback three times — including two on blitzes — but only pressured the Commanders QB on four of his 25 dropouts (16%).

Underestimated statistics namely: Fields has taken at least 2 sacks in every game this season and in 14 consecutive games, which is the longest active streak in the NFL.

Next game: at the Patriots (8:15 p.m. ET, Oct. 24)

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