Early X-mas Present: Bears win against Cardinals
Jamie Sabau - USA Today Sports

Early X-mas Present: Bears win against Cardinals


by - Senior Writer -

CHICAGO - Now that is more like it, as the fans of the Chicago Bears (6-9) were treated to an early Christmas present at Soldier Field on Sunday. Anytime you can double your win total from one year to the next, it is a crucial building block for a rebuilding team, which is what the Bears accomplished on Sunday.

Facing off against another rebuilding team in the Arizona Cardinals (3-12), there were some that wanted the Bears to lose as it would help inch them closer to the No. 1 overall pick, which the Carolina Panthers hold. Instead, Justin Fields continued to show growth as a player as he was the best QB on the field Sunday, picking up 267 total yards (97 on the ground and 170 through the air) with a pair of scores as the Bears made quick work of the Cardinals 27-16.

The score doesn't indicate how lopsided this game was, as the Bears scored 21 first-half points before cooling down in the second half. This was also the rare occurrence where the Bears led from start to finish, scoring a first-quarter touchdown and never looking back. With both teams punting it away on their first possession, the Bears came out strong on their second possession and drove right down the field.

"We definitely got to work on sustaining that firepower,” Fields said after the win. “We came out with 21 points, boom, so we got to keep doing it. I felt like we could’ve put up at least 35, 40 points, so we got to just stay on top of us and really not get complacent. You never know what’s going to happen as we’ve found out in the past.”

A 53-yard hookup to Cole Kmet was the big play to get the offense going, as he led the way with 107 yards receiving. A couple of nice runs from Khalil Herbert, who finished with 112 yards, moved the ball inside the five before Fields finished things off from three yards out for the 7-0 lead. Things only got better for Chicago as they forced another Arizona punt before the offense got the ball back and went 90 yards on 11 plays to close out the first quarter and begin the second.

Herbert started the drive with a big first-down run before the Kmet-Fields duo hooked up for another huge gain to move the ball close to midfield. Not only was the arm of Fields making a difference, but his legs, as a 24-yard scamper, moved the ball inside the red zone, where Herbert finished things off to make things 14-0. Another quick three-and-out by the Bears defense gave the ball back to the offense, and it was more of the same for the offense as they continued to gut the Arizona defense.

With the ground attack starting things off and moving the chains, another 25-plus yard hookup from Fields to Kmet moved the ball inside Arizona territory and had the Bears offense on the move. Roschon Johnson and Fields followed that up with a pair of short-yardage gains, only to have Fields find Mercedes Lewis for the one-yard reception to make things 21-0.

The offense stalled out from there, but with such a massive lead, Chicago felt comfortable holding the Cardinals off. It may have taken Arizona nearly two quarters, but their offense finally solved the Bears defense as they had more yards on their scoring drive than the rest of the first half combined. Kyler Murray used both his arm and legs to make things happen early on as the Bears defense started getting caught on their heels.

A big first down run by James Conner set the offense up just outside the 20 before Conner hauled in a 16 yard reception from Murray for the Cardinals first score of the game as they pulled within 21-7 at the half. Murray had better numbers than Fields passing-wise, with 232 yards and a pair of scores. 67 yards went to Conner, but when you trail by 21 points early, you're not giving your team much of a chance.

Looking to flip the game's momentum, Arizona wasted little time as the Greg Dorth 43-yard kick return to start the second half gave the Cardinals excellent field position. Another big hookup to Conner moved the ball into Bears territory before the Matt Prater 55-yard field goal pulled Arizona within 21-10. With neither team doing anything on their next possessions, the Bears offense needed a boost after stalling out for the past quarter and a half.

Leave it to Herbert to play a significant role in that as he touched the ball on all four plays to start the drive with Fields picking up another first down run with his legs. Fields would then find Robert Tonyan for another first down to help set things up for Cairo Santos, who banged home a 49-yard field goal to put the Bears up 24-10. Sunday was a special day for Santos as he inked a brand new four-year deal on Saturday.

The theme of the afternoon was another excellent performance by the Bears defense as another three and out gave the ball back to the offense with a chance to ice the game. With Herbert and Johnson getting things going on the ground, the Bears offense was off to a great start as they continued to move the ball right through the Cardinals defense. A massive 39-yard scamper moved the ball inside the 20 as the Bears were just 14 yards away from icing the game. Unfortunately, the Chicago offense stalled as Fields' pass to Herbert was picked off, resulting in a touchback.

As the Bears have seen all too often, that costly turnover had an even more significant impact on the defense as the Cardinals put together the best drive of the game. Conner remained the catalyst, as his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield kept the chains moving for the Cardinals. That was just the beginning, as Murray found Dortch for 38 yards to pull the Cardinals within five with a two-point try coming. That conversation went unsuccessful as that was as close as the Cardinals would get, with Santos taking on a late field goal to cap off the scoring 27-16.

“All I know is one win went up in the win column today,” Fields said. “And that's all I care about.”

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