Dec 24, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) and Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields (1) meet at midfield after their game at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports
The Chicago Bears take a 21-0 first-half lead! Merry Christmas indeed!
I thought the Bears were headed straight for the 31-13 blowout convincing win I confidently predicted earlier in the week. Alas, it was once again a one-score game late in the fourth quarter. This time the Bears were up to the task, albeit against the woesome Cardinals. On to the holiday grades we go.
17o yards through the air will not excite anyone. But 97 more on the ground felt like Justin Fields at his best. Fields showed good field presence numerous times, sliding to avoid a hit while also staying in bounds to keep the clock moving. Fields used his legs to threaten the defense in the red zone beautifully, before finding ageless Marcedes Lewis wide open for a touchdown.
The fourth-quarter interception intended for Khalil Herbert in the end zone that would have iced the game took Fields grade down, but it was still a productive day overall for QB1 who showed once again that he can make plays that few other quarterbacks can.
That looked much more like the Khalil Herbert who led the NFL in yards per carry last season. Herbert’s burst is not quite all the way back, but it is a lot closer to what Herbert looked like before he got hurt October 5 versus Washington. That day Herbert ran for 7.6 ypc, on Sunday it was 5.6 and a season-high 112 yards.
The Bears ran the ball 39 times for 250 yards taking advantage of a Cardinals defense that has not stopped the run all season long.
WR/ TE: B
Ryan Poles did not draft Cole Kmet, but he did sign Kmet to an extension proving that Poles knows a good thing when he sees it and is willing to reward hard-working, talented players from the Ryan Pace era. Yes, Kmet probably took a little less money to remain a Bear since he grew up in Arlington Heights and is hell bent on winning a Super Bowl with his home town team.
Kmet carried the day for this group before leaving with a knee injury that hopefully is not too serious after catching four passes for a single-game career-high 107 yards. Kmet has the seventh most yards for a tight end this season 678, also a single season career-high.
DJ Moore battled through an ankle injury to catch three balls, including a key late first down that ended any thoughts of another collapse. Marcedes Lewis showed there is something left in the tank finding the end zone for his fourth catch of the season.
250 yards on the ground does the trick. Fields was sacked only one time and more importantly had time most of the day. Cody Whitehair was beaten badly once by my count and there was a phantom holding penalty on Lucas Patrick that cost Fields a 32-yard run. Overall, it was a workmanlike day for this group that played steady without Teven Jenkins.
Montez Sweat was not credited with a sack ending a streak of four straight games. Sweat’s presence was still felt as the Bears held Arizona’s rushing attack to 93 yards. Justin Jones flashed early getting Kyler Murray to the ground. Jones is a free agent at the end of the year and has been a solid contributor both on the field and in the locker room. His 4.5 sacks are not too shabby, either.
Andrew Billings shed a couple of blockers to make an impressive tackle. T.J. Edwards hit with force. Rookie Gervon Dexter Sr. was credited with a quarterback hit.
Kyler Gordon had one of the Bears two sacks. Gordon continues to impress knifing his way through offensive linemen that are double his size. Jaquan Brisker looked like he may have injured his shoulder, but came back and played with force. Tyrique Stevenson laid another big hit. At times, I thought I was watching an old-school tape of the Bears secondary where hitting receivers to make them think twice about catching the football was the main goal.
Special Teams: A
Trenton Gill had a day to remember booming one punt 76 yards and averaging an impressive 52 yards per punt. Gill placed two inside the 20.
Cairo Santos was perfect again nailing two field goals including one from 49 and all three of his extra points. Trent Taylor and Velus Jones Jr. took care of the football.
Give Matt Eberflus credit, after every tough, nauseating, disgusting, disturbing, brutal loss this season the Bears have bounced back the following week with a win. The Denver debacle was followed by the Washington blowout win. After the Detroit disaster came the Minnesota road survival. The Cleveland season ender last week, brought keep-slim-playoff-hopes-alive Arizona. The Bears are still competing and Eberflus deserves credit.
Luke Getsy, on the other hand, had another head-scratching day calling for the wildcat on third and one with Roschon Johnson. Getsy continues to suffer from smartest-guy-in-the-room complex too often. Put the ball in Justin Fields’s capable hands and let him get you a yard.
Get Chicago's Best Sports Content In Your Inbox!
Become a smarter Chicago sports fan with the latest game recaps, analysis and exclusive content from CHGO’s writers and podcasters!
Just drop your email below!
Scroll to next article
Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on PinterestShare on WhatsappShare on LinkedinShare on TelegramShare on Email