Bears' Crazy Win Marked By Team Resolve

The Bears accepted Matt Nagy's challenge and found a way to win in Denver.

Chris Emma
September 15, 2019 - 9:35 pm

DENVER (670 The Score) -- Inside a visiting locker room that became the Bears' "Club Dub," the music, the dancing and the jubilation of victory stopped briefly with the word of head coach Matt Nagy.

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For all the twists and turns of the Bears' wild 16-14 victory over the Broncos, Sunday at Empower Field came down to a collective resolve and a scenario they wanted all along.

"You need one second and the ball," Nagy said to his team. "If you got one second and the ball, you got a chance to win."

Related: Haugh: Bears survive, need more from Mitchell Trubisky

After the Bears' dispiriting season-opening loss to the Packers, Nagy challenged his players to respond. He demanded the energy and focus in practice and made sure his players buried their first game. And Nagy did more than just speak this point into existence.

Nagy gathered the Bears this week and showed them how the Saints prevailed in their 30-28 victory over the Texans last Monday night. New Orleans fell behind with 37 seconds left but came back as quarterback Drew Brees set them up for a game-winning field goal. In New Orleans, it was Will Lutz who connected on a 58-yard field goal and the Saints for the win.

Sure enough, the Bears' victory played out similarly. The Chicago defense exhausted by the altitude and heat of Denver, the Broncos score a touchdown with 31 seconds left and then converted a two-point conversion for a 14-13 lead, one play after they had missed the game-tying extra point but got a second chance when Bears defensive back Buster Skrine jumped offsides duped by the Broncos' long snapper.

Suddenly, the Bears were 31 seconds from a disastrous loss. That was when Nagy reminded his offense of what Brees and the Saints did Monday night. Nagy's quarterback, 24-year-old Mitchell Trubisky, grew up studying Brees and what has made him a future Hall of Fame player. It's in large part how Brees has led his team when the game is on the line. Trubisky and the Bears believed they could do it, too.

Trubisky led the Bears 40 yards in 30 seconds, the biggest play coming on a 25-yard strike to receiver Allen Robinson on fourth-and-15 in the waning seconds. Nagy had alerted the side judge to be ready for his timeout and -- after time had expired and the officials conferred -- was granted that stoppage with one second on the clock 

Bears kicker Eddy Pineiro -- who fought from May into the beginning of Week 1 for his job -- then stepped up with confidence and hit a 53-yard field goal for the win. Well after the Bears celebrated on the field and then more in the locker room, Pineiro thought of Lutz's heroics and appreciated what he and the Bears had pulled off.

"It means everything," Pineiro said. "I've been working my butt off. All the stuff I've been through, the Augusta silence, kickers getting cut left and right, all the crazy things going on. It was a pretty cool moment to have this opportunity.

"Hopefully now I can keep coming through for Chicago."

The Bears won despite gaining only 273 yards on offense and scoring just one touchdown. Trubisky was 16-of-27 for 120 yards as the Bears showcased a renewed commitment to running the football despite some early struggles on the ground. Rookie running back David Montgomery's 1-yard touchdown run in the third quarter marked the only time the Bears have reached the end zone through two games.

There's plenty the Bears must clean up entering this new week, but that's all for Monday. On Sunday evening, Nagy looked around the locker room and smiled back at his players.

"This is what a team win looks like," guard Kyle Long said.

Playing at 5,280 feet, the Bears and Broncos had their game decided by mere inches and seconds.

Montgomery broke the plane of the goal line with just the tip of the football. Nagy decided in split seconds not to challenge the spot of a Broncos fourth-down conversion with 2:25 remaining, believing he might need that timeout. Broncos receiver Emmanuel Sanders hauled in the touchdown with 31 seconds left in the corner of the end zone. 

The Broncos were late getting their initial two-point conversion off to take the lead, penalized by a delay of game. Skrine jumped early just as the ball was being snapped, with kicker Brandon McManus missing the Broncos' game-tying extra-point attempt. 

Trubisky realized in a split decision he had to throw the ball to Robinson, who gave himself up with one second remaining as Nagy kept the game alive with that timeout he still had saved. Patrick Scales' snap, Pat O'Donnell's hold and Pineiro's kick were all pristine. That's how the game was won.

"It feels amazing," said cornerback Kyle Fuller, whose fourth-quarter interception in the red zone proved to be key. "It's what you work for. It's going to be that hard in this league. That's what it's all about."

When the Bears came together in the wake of their opening loss -- a dominant defense and a disappointing offense still united -- Nagy knew his team would be OK. They put in the work in practice, watched how Brees and the Saints pulled off their last-second win and envisioned it for themselves. But Nagy never could've imagined how quite how crazily that resolve would be tested in Denver.

The Bears were resilient as Nagy had hoped, winning it with one second and the ball.

"They did it," Nagy said. "They believed it."

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.