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!

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

Upgrade Your Fandom

Join the Ultimate CHGO Sports Community!

Red Zone Report: Bears make big plays that matter, lead to victory over Texans

Will DeWitt Avatar
September 27, 2022

Welcome to my weekly Chicago Bears Redzone Report where I take a deep dive into every red zone possession on both sides of the ball.

A team’s success or failure inside the red zone has a strong correlation to its overall performance. In many ways, it’s do or die inside the 20.

I want to take some time every week to analyze these critical possessions.

This week, there were seven total red zone trips. Three from the Bears’ offense and four on defense.

Let’s see how they fared …

Bears offense

Trip 1 (Score: Bears lead 3-0)

Quarter: 1 | Time Remaining: 6:45

How They Got There: The drive began with the 41-yard run by Equanimeous St. Brown, which got the Bears over midfield. Unfortunately, David Montgomery got injured two plays later. This is where Khalil Herbert stepped in and started to take over. After gaining 11 yards on a second down run, Herbert set the Bears up with their first red zone trip of the game.

The Result: Herbert ran it in from 11 yards out. This play is a combination of great blocking by everyone involved and hard running by the back. Herbert’s patience and vision are on full display as he kept his eyes up to read the blocks in front of him. A zig and a zag later, he bulldozed his way in for the score.

Analysis: One play from outside the 10 and you punch it in on the ground? It doesn’t get much sweeter than that.

Trip 2 (Score: Texans lead 17-13)

Quarter: 3 | Time Remaining: 9:52

How They Got There: Trailing midway through the third quarter, the Bears started the drive at the Texans’ 25. It only took one handoff to Herbert to flip the field. Go figure. Herbert hit a hole, made a few defenders miss and sprinted 52 yards down the field before going down. Justin Fields followed that play with a 20-yard completion to St. Brown who took the ball all the way down to the three yard line.

The Result: It took three-straight runs with Herbert, but the Bears were able to get into the end zone for the go-ahead score.

Analysis: When you’re able to move the ball on the ground and get a huge chunk as they did on this drive, it makes things a whole lot easier. Credit to Fields for hitting St. Brown over the middle of the field. Fields wasn’t on his A-game in this one, but this throw was a big one as it got the Bears inside the five and in prime position to take the lead.

Credit to Luke Getsy for learning a lesson from the Packers’ loss and lining up in the I-formation on this crucial down instead of shotgun. The Bears were able to push the pile, and Herbert demonstrated great body control and awareness as he twisted around to fall back towards the end zone all while continuing to drive his feet.

Trip 3 (Score: Tied 20-20)

Quarter: 4 | Time Remaining: 1:05

How They Got There: Roquan Smith came away with a clutch interception with just over a minute to play in a tie game to give the Bears’ offense the ball in the red zone.

The Result: Cairo Santos hit the game-winning field goal.

Analysis: This is why I wanted to do these reports, because context matters. If you’re just checking the stats, you’ll see the Bears not “converting” on this red zone trip. But in all actuality, they did exactly what they needed to in order to win the game. They secured the football, let the clock wind down and put the game on the foot of Santos.

There was no reason to do anything different.

Offensive Summary: 3 Red Zone Trips, 2 Touchdowns (66% conversion)

Bears Defense

Trip 1 (Score: Bears lead 10-0)

Quarter: 1 | Time Remaining: 5:31

How They Got There: On third-and-7 at their own 28, the Texans gained 52 yards when Davis Mills connected with Chris Moore, taking advantage of a coverage breakdown in the Bears’ secondary. Kyler Gordon thought he had help over the top and allowed the receiver to get behind him in open space for an easy pitch-and-catch.

The Result: Mills hit Jordan Akins in the end zone for a touchdown.

Analysis: Giving up a big play on third down that puts your opponent in scoring position is tough on any defense. The Bears did almost get off the field on the first play ran inside the 20 when Eddie Jackson forced a fumble, but the Texans were the ones who recovered. Houston kept it on the ground two more times, which got them down inside the five.

On the scoring play, the Texans lined up in a three-tight-end set. This put Kindle Vildor in man coverage against a tight end with a five-inch and nearly 50-pound advantage over the corner. Needless to say, this was a mismatch. Mills put the ball up where Akins could use that size advantage for an easy touchdown.

At least the Bears didn’t allow the Texans to simply walk in for six after allowing the big play. They forced Houston to earn it.

Trip 2 (Score: Bears lead 10-7)

Quarter: 1 | Time Remaining: 1:31

How They Got There: Fields missed the mark on his through to Cole Kmet and the Texans came away with the interception. With their starting field position coming in Bears’ territory, Mills hit two passes for 36 yards to start the drive. These chunk plays put the Texans at the Bears’ five with a prime opportunity to take the lead.

The Result: Eddie Jackson came away with the interception in the end zone after Kindle Vildor knocked the ball up in the air with a clutch pass breakup.

Analysis: The Bears’ defense really stepped up in a big way. On the first play in the red zone, Roquan Smith made a tackle for loss. This forced the Texans to put the ball in the air, and the Bears made them pay.

Vildor stepped up here after allowing a touchdown on the previous possession. He was also targeted two more times on this drive and allowed completions. But when it mattered most, he made a big play against the Texans’ best receiver, Brandin Cooks.

Let’s not sugarcoat it, after Fields threw the interception and the Texans quickly got into scoring position, all momentum was tilting the Texans’ way. If they got a touchdown on this possession, it would have been an entirely different ballgame, and who knows what the outcome would have been?

Trip 3 (Score: 10-7)

Quarter: 2 | Time Remaining: 9:03

How They Got There: The Bears gave up a 31-yard punt return after the offense went three-and-out deep in their own territory. Like the Texans’ previous possession, they started on the right side of the 50, and it didn’t take long to get into the red zone as they gained 24 yards on their first play on the drive on a handoff to Dameon Pierce.

The Result: Pierce scored on a one-yard touchdown run.

Analysis: It’s tough to watch your opponent bully their way downfield on the ground, and that’s exactly what the Texans did on this drive as they did not attempt a single pass attempt. It only took four runs by Pierce before he found paydirt.

For a run defense that has been suspect, it wasn’t a big surprise to see the Texans move the ball so easily on the ground. However, that’s not the game the Bears wanted to play. As we saw in the previous trip, if you put the ball in Mills’ hands, good things will happen. The Bears failed to make the Texans beat them through the air, and it cost them points … and the lead.

Trip 4 (Bears lead 20-17)

Quarter: 3 | Time Remaining: 2:47

How They Got There: By far, this was the hardest the Texans had to work to make it back into the red zone. It took ten plays and a fake punt to get there. The Bears’ defense wasn’t allowing the big plays they did earlier in the game. They did, however, fail to get off the field on two third downs (and a fourth down) including the 15-yard completion to Phillip Dorsett along the sideline that put the Texans just outside the 10.

The Result: The Bears held true, kept the Texans out of the end zone and forced them to settle for the field goal.

Analysis: This defensive stop played a large role in the Bears winning this game. Despite facing a second-and-4, the Bears’ run defense stiffened up and did not allow the Texans to move the chains. The best play was the tackle for loss from Roquan Smith on third-and-1. This play was pivotal because the Texans very well could’ve gone for it on fourth down if they only needed a yard or so.

Instead, they kicked the field goal to tie the game. A go-ahead touchdown here would have made it a four-point game, meaning the Bears would have needed a touchdown to win instead of the last-second field goal.

This was a big stop for the Bears’ defense, and it came after allowing two-straight touchdowns in the red zone. It must be the mental and physical stamina.

Defensive Summary: 4 Red Zone Trips, 2 Touchdowns Surrendered (50% conversion)

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!

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

Scroll to next article

Don't like ads?
Don't like ads?
Don't like ads?