CHICAGO — There were times when the Patriots looked magnificent on Sunday. There were other moments at Soldier Field when their play was maddening.
There were many turnovers and many untimely penalties. There were injuries, and there was some redemption as well.
On offense, Rob Gronkowski was at home in Foxboro dealing with ankle and back injuries. To make matters worse, rookie running back Sony Michel left the game because of a knee injury in the second quarter. On defense, the unit struggled to contain Mitchell Trubisky, the Bears athletic quarterback.
The wild ride that this Sunday afternoon game turned out to be was encapsulated by the final play.
With two seconds remaining, Trubisky heaved a Hail Mary pass down the field, which was caught by Bears receiver Kevin White only inches from the end zone. Safety Duron Harmon had his feet planted and stopped White at the 1-yard line as the clock ticked zero.
“They say it’s a game of inches,” Patriots running back James White said. “That’s what it came down to.”
For every bad play the Patriots committed, it seemed like they countered with a highlight to regain control. It wasn’t pretty but it was enough as the Patriots escaped Chicago with a 38-31 win to improve to 5-2.
“Just a resilient group. We’re not a group that’s going to hang our head if mistakes are made,” Harmon said. “We’re not going to live in the past. We’re going to try to continue to move forward.”
The Pats were able to move the ball well as Tom Brady finished 25-for-36 for 277 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. White caught eight passes for 57 yards and two touchdowns. Josh Gordon made four catches for 100 yards.
Mistakes, however, cost the Pats as the Bears scored 21 points off three turnovers.
While in control with a 7-3 lead, things began to fall apart in the first quarter. Following a Bears field goal, Cordarrelle Patterson fumbled the ensuing kickoff return when the ball was stripped by Nick Kwiatkoski. The fumble was recovered by DeAndre Houston-Carter to give the Bears the ball at the 24-yard line.
Chicago carried that momentum all the way to the end zone to take a 10-7 lead following a Trubisky 8-yard touchdown run.
On the next Patriots drive, Michel fumbled as he suffered a knee injury at 15:00 of the second quarter. Bears defensive lineman Bilal Nichols recovered to Chicago the ball at the 36-yard line. The Bears turned that into a 17-7 lead. Trubisky hit Trey Burton for 17 yards on fourth-and-4 to keep the drive alive. The Pats defense committed two penalties and dropped two potential interceptions to keep Chicago on the field. At 11:07 of the second quarter, Jordan Howard ran in for a 2-yard touchdown.
“They present a lot of problems and definitely put ourselves in the hole,” Bill Belichick said. “Kind of an unusual game with a lot of big plays.
After losing the momentum, Patterson helped bring it back. At 10:48 of the second quarter, he redeemed himself with a 95-yard kickoff return touchdown and the Patriots were down, 17-14.
“We didn’t want to keep getting talked about,” Patterson said, “so we went out there and did what we do.”
The Patriots took a 21-17 lead on their next series as Brady hit White with a 5-yard touchdown pass and a 21-17 halftime advantage.
The Bears opened up the second half with a Tarik Cohen touchdown to take a 24-21 lead. Stephen Gostkowski tied the game, 24-24, at 7:52 of the third.
That’s when the Patriots special-teams unit stepped up again. At 5:53 of the third quarter, Dont’a Hightower blocked Pat O’Donnell’s punt. Kyle Van Noy picked up the football and ran 29 yards for the second special-teams touchdown of the game.
“Honestly, I didn’t really know what to do,” Hightower said. “I’ve never blocked a punt before. I just knew if I could get there before he punted it, I could hit him.”
The defense stepped up with interceptions from J.C. Jackson and Jonathan Jones. Following the second turnover, Brady hit White with a 2-yard touchdown pass with 8:44 remaining.
Trailing 38-24, the Bears made another charge when a Brady pass bounced off James Develin’s hands and right to Bears cornerback Kyle Fuller. Trubisky ended that drive with a touchdown to Trey Burton to cut the Bears’ deficit to 38-31.
Chicago had one more chance at the end, with the Hail Mary pass, but came up inches short thanks to Harmon’s tackle.
“We just keep fighting,” Jackson said. “You’re going to have adversity during the game. You have to move on to the next play.”
Published at Mon, 22 Oct 2018 04:24:21 +0000