CHARLOTTE – If you’re tuning in on Sundays to watch the Bears and hoping for a work of art, you’re probably not going to get it in 2020.
Their contests so far have been low scoring, grind-it-out affairs where the will of their defense and the finish of their offense tends to dictate a victory or defeat. It’s produced some, frankly, ugly games but so far it’s worked out pretty good for Matt Nagy’s team.
The came into their contest against the Panthers on Sunday with four wins in their first five games. Fourth quarter offense saved the day for the Bears in two of the wins while the defense helped to finish off a pair of victories.
Naturally, Sunday played out like most of the season, where beauty was absent but success was not.
The Bears ground their way to a 23-16 win over Carolina Sunday afternoon at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte. They improve to 5-1 on the season and firmly planted into one of the three Wild Card spots in the NFC as they approach the end of the first half of the season.
Nagy’s team gets a little more time to savor and learn from this effort as they don’t play till next Monday night against the Rams in Los Angeles.
What’s odd is that the beginning of this contest was as pretty as it could get for the Bears. They nearly got a safety on a sack by Bilal Nichols then got an interception from Tashaun Gipson to give their offense a short field.
Lake Barrington native Cole Kmet caught his first touchdown pass of his NFL career as the Bears got off to a clean start.
After that, it was “nip-and-tuck” for both squads the rest of the half, with the Panthers driving inside the Bears’ three-yard line before stalling on their next drive. Joey Slye finished it off with a short field goal, but the Bears would get it back when Cairo Santos hit one of his own from 31-yards out after their offensive drive stalled at the Panthers’ 13.
Carolina would get down the field again in the second quarter, getting to the Bears’ two-yard line before the defense stiffened. The Panthers were forced to settle with another Slye field goal, which the Bears’ responded to before the half as Santos nailed a 55-yarder before the half to make it 13-6.
The third quarter featured more of this back-and-forth, with the teams even trading turnovers on back-to-back plays at one point. Yet the Bears’ offense finally reached the endzone in the quarter for the first time all year, with Nick Foles sneaking it in from a yard out to make it 20-6.
It was the Bears first points in the third quarter since a David Montgomery touchdown run against the Vikings in Week 17 of 2019.
Once again, the teams traded field goals in the fourth quarter as the deficit stayed at seven, and the Panthers got one last drive late to try and tie the game. On 4th-and-2, Teddy Bridgewater threw to an open DJ Moore, but he was turned around while going for the ball and it slipped out of his hands going to the ground.
After the Panthers got the ball back, DeAndre Houston-Carson finally put the game away with an interception to get the Bears a fifth win of the season.