A quarter-by-quarter look at the Washington Redskins' 24-21 win over the Chicago Bears Sunday.
Big play: Facing 2nd-and-12 from the Bears 18-yard-line, the Redskins attacked. Continuing an already established theme on this drive, Quarterback Kirk Cousins found tight end Jordan Reed over the middle. Reed caught the pass, but wasn't content with just that. He churned his legs, carrying defenders all the way to the goal line. The initial call was touchdown, but replay put the ball on the one-yard-line. Alfred Morris' first TD on the season came on the next play. Reed's effort and the eventual TD showed quickly the Redskins were not still thinking about Monday's loss to Dallas.
Turning point: The opening drive started with two first downs, but a third required converting a 3rd-an-12 from Washington's own 42-yard-line. Cousins did just that. With a pass. To Rashad Ross. The primary kick returning caught the pass for his first reception since Week 6. The Redskins ended up milking 8:30 off the clock on the tone-setting 80-yard drive.
The takeaway: Breaking Burgundy senior writer Chris Russell made the case for Washington sticking with the running game despite season-long troubles. The coaching staff clearly agreed. Morris regained his role as the lead back and effectively picked up yards. The Redskins also stuck with first down runs, doing so on their first three first downs. Sticking with the run gave the offense needed balance as Cousins went 8 of 9 for 108 yards. Washington held the ball for 11:07 with the second drive carrying over into the second quarter.
Score: Redskins 7 Bears 0
Big play: The Redskins were 70 seconds away from entering halftime with a two-score lead. That's not the way things ended up. Chicago drove 58 yards and most of all, found the end zone as Alshon Jeffery caught a 20-yard touchdown from Jay Cutler.
Turning point: Right after Cousins' 3-yard TD run off a perfect fake handoff put Washington up 14-0, Trent Murphy delivers a strip sack and fumble recovery. Momentum now all on the Redskins' side with ball a midfield. Yet the Redskins repeated the ongoing pattern of not converting turnovers into points as they went three-and-out. The offense stagnated for the remainder of the half instead of delivering knockout punch.
The takeaway: The two early scoring drives were long and largely mistake free. The subsequent possessions included penalties and sacks. No team seeks 3rd-and-long scenarios, but this offense certainly cannot put itself into bad spots especially with an offensive line that often struggles in pass protection.
Score: Redskins 14 Bears 7
Big play: Here they go again. Score on the opening drive off the half, check. Cousins and Reed hooking up repeatedly, check. After a 32-yard connection earlier in the possession, Cousins deftly found Reed in traffic for a 5-yard touchdown one play after Washington inexplicably took a delay of game penalty coming out of a timeout. Washington countered Chicago's late first-half touchdown with one of its own early in the second. Will that be enough?
Turning point: Answering the previous question...no. The Bears matched the Redskins' 10-play touchdown drive with one of their own capped by Cutler's scoring toss to tight end Zach Miller. No, that wasn't the turning point. Two plays later, Cousins made a poor decision or didn't see Chicago cornerback Kyle Fuller. Whatever the case, Fuller read the pass and jumped in front of Pierre Garcon for the interception, giving the Bears possession at Washington's 21. Matt Forte's rushing TD tied the game three plays later.
Score: Redskins 21 Bears 21
Big play: Dustin Hopkins' 47-yard field goal 48 seconds into the final period would put Washington up 24-21. He made it. Robbie Gould's 50-yard attempt with 1:45 remaining would tie the game. He missed. The game wasn't technically over, but the Bears had only one timeout left and Matt Jones took care of the rest with 11 yards on three carries.
Turning point: The quarter was punt-filled, but the Redskins avoided doing so earlier than desired on its penultimate drive when Cousins and Jones hooked up for an 18-yard catch. Now, that's how the basic play-by-play recap shows the play. The reality was far more insane. So much talk this season about Cousins' decision-making. This one was arguably his worst as he threw high and across the field and into traffic. The pass was then tipped and fell to Jones, who fell to the ground untouched. This last part is key because the rookie, apparently thinking the play was over, put the ball on the ground before the play was ruled dead. Fortunately, Jones fell on the ball. The Bears ended up using two timeouts on the drive before the Redskins punted.
The takeaway: Let's make this simple. A win is a win is a win. That's especially true after Monday's bizarre finish against Dallas and with first place in the NFC East at stake and considering the Redskins were winless on the road this season. Washington remains atop the division along with Philadelphia, winners over Buffalo, with the New York Giants playing Monday night. Sure, the Bears aren't headed to the playoffs and that's the case with just about everybody the Washington beat this season. So what. Don't put the Redskins in the discussion with the Panthers, Cardinals or Seahawks, but they did what was needed in this matchup. The defense sacked Jay Cutler three times with one leading to a fumble. The offense, while still not able to put teams away, made plays. Cousins finished 24 of 31 for 300 yards with one touchdown pass and one run. All combined, the Redskin got the job done. That's all that matters.
Score: Redskins 24 Bears 21
Next week: Redskins hosts the Buffalo Bills in the final home game of the season.
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