Don’t count the 2019 Chicago Bears out just yet.
Once sitting at 4-6 and on the outside looking in, the Monsters of the Midway are now riding a three-game winning streak and are right back into the thick of the playoff hunt at 7-6. Although they’ll likely still need to win-out in an ultra-competitive NFC Wild Card race, these last three games just got a lot more interesting.
Thursday night’s victory over the Dallas Cowboys was unquestionably their most impressive, all-around team effort of the season thus far. The offense was firing on all cylinders with 31 points matching a season-high.
Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky was playing with a level of confidence not yet seen this season, rediscovering his running ability (63 rushing yards and a score) and making throws with conviction. The third-year signal-caller finished the game with just under 250 yards passing and four total touchdowns.
While Trubisky was the biggest storyline from this contest, a crucial factor to their success — something that may go overlooked — was the injury-riddled defense’s brilliant performance.
Coming into this one, Chicago would be without three starters, as CB Prince Amukamara, DL Akiem Hicks and LB Danny Trevathan were all sidelined. As if things couldn’t get worse, Bears’ leading tackler, second-year phenom linebacker Roquan Smith exited the match early in the first quarter with a pectoral injury.
Suddenly, the odds were noticeably stacked against this group. The Cowboys had come into this game boasting what was statistically the best offense in all of football, churning out a league-high 432.8 yards per game. Their 25.8 points scored per game was also eighth-best.
However, this didn’t deter the Navy and Orange from putting together a dominant showing. After allowing four first downs on the opening drive, this unit allowed just two additional first downs up until fourth-quarter garbage time. They held Dallas to just 211 yards of offense and seven total points through three quarters.
The Bears are no strangers to having to overcome adversity, already seeing guys like Nick Williams and Nick Kwiatkoski fill in admirably for Chuck Pagano’s unit when Hicks and Trevathan went down. This time, it was Kevin Pierre-Louis, whose number was called.
The 28-year-old NFL journeyman made a statement with six total tackles, a tackle-for-loss, two passes defended, and a quarterback hit. If you hadn’t already known Smith left this game early, you probably wouldn’t even have noticed a difference. He was that good. Because of this, the Bears’ defense didn’t miss a beat.
Pierre-Louis, whom the Bears signed this past offseason to a one-year deal, has always been a player touted for his athletic ability. While you could argue that he’s underachieved throughout his career to this point, perhaps he’s found a nice home here in the Windy City as a key depth piece for the Bears’ linebacking corps.
A former fourth-round pick of the Seattle Seahawks back in 2014, Pierre-Louis was a four-star recruit coming out of high school, ranked as top-10 outside linebacker in his class. He was an absolute stud in his final collegiate season at Boston College, earning first-team All-ACC honors by gathering 108 tackles, 10.5 tackles-for-loss, and six sacks.
Pierre-Louis has bounced around franchises in his six-year career, most-recently seeing one-year stints with the Kansas City Chiefs and New York Jets before finally arriving in Chicago. It’s yet to be seen whether he can sustain the level of play he showed Thursday night, but he’ll have plenty of opportunities to prove himself with Smith likely out for the rest of 2019.
“We’re just a resilient team,” linebacker Leonard Floyd told Chicago SunTimes after the game. “A team full of fighters, and we’re going to go out and fight every game to win. It’s the group of guys we’ve got in the building. Everybody has a next-man-up mentality. And guys are doing a good job of coming in and playing hard.”
A daunting three-game stretch against the Packers, Chiefs and Vikings awaits the Bears to cap off their 2019 campaign, none of which seem like an impossible win with how this team has been playing. With momentum on their side and the heart and soul of their defense in Hicks set to return next week, fans can rest assured that if this team is going down, they’re going down swinging.
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