Bears D Practices What It Preached

September 18, 2018 - 12:30 am
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CHICAGO (670 The Score) -- There has been a constant dialogue among the Bears defense about closing out victories and making the game-changing plays that have eluded them in years past. 

In fact, the Bears were talking about just that during the fourth quarter Monday night as they led 17-10 over the Seahawks at Solider Field. Knowing they were one play from putting the game away, second-year safety Eddie Jackson approached veteran cornerback Prince Amukamara and told him: You're going to get a pick-six. They had even planned a baseball-themed celebration, swinging for a walk-off home run.

Sure enough, Amukamara picked off a Russell Wilson pass on the ensuing defensive possession. He weaved by Wilson, ran 49 yards to the end zone and was greeted by a number of teammates, including Jackson, who was left hanging on the celebration.

"I forgot," Amukamara told Jackson. "I got too excited."

Amukamara's play proved to be a difference-maker in the Bears' 24-17 victory before an energized crowd. The victory brought Chicago to the .500 mark for the first time since 2014 and gave Matt Nagy his first win as head coach. For a team that blew a 20-0 lead eight nights prior at Lambeau Field, closing out a victory was meaningful.

For the Bears defense, this victory reminded of how it can evolve from good to great or even dominant this season. 

The Bears held the prolific Wilson and the Seahawks offense to 276 yards and 4.3 yards per play, marks in which they took pride. They sacked Wilson six times, often blitzing around pass rusher Khalil Mack and creating problems for a poor offensive line. And the game was sealed with a pair of fourth-quarter turnovers forced as the byproduct of experience and aggression.

The 29-year-old Amukamara recorded his first interception since Week 3 of 2015 because he was prepared for it. A game-week quiz presented by his coaches diagrammed that particular formation and where Wilson could go -- in this case, a quick five-yard curl to rookie running back Rashaad Penny. Amukamara read it to perfection, sprinting full speed at the pass and taking it the distance.

"It's uplifting," Amukamara said. "It's a momentum changer.

"For me, it felt surreal."

The defense delivered another takeaway on its next possession on the field when Danny Trevathan strip-sacked Wilson and Leonard Floyd fell on the football. 

One of the key leaders on the defense, Trevathan has been constantly preaching to his teammates how the games they have lost so many times in the past can be won. Trevathan has a Super Bowl ring from Denver as a reminder of what his words mean.

"We're not complacent," Trevathan said. "We're still hungry."

Mack's presence with this Bears defense was once again felt by an opponent, this time being Wilson. Mack finished with five tackles, a tackle for a loss, a sack and a forced fumble -- ho hum -- and his presence helped create opportuniites for his teammates. Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio continued to attack the Seahawks on Mack's edge of the defense, whether that was with a defensive end like Akiem Hicks or a nickelback like Bryce Callahan.

In the second quarter, Mack created disruption that led to a sack by Jackson, made a tackle for no gain and forced a fumble on a sack -- all within three consecutive plays.

"People when they come here, they need to fear the Bears," Amukamara said. "We're trying to instill that and bring it back."

Playing in primetime before a national audience, the Bears had the right stage for taking a step toward a return to prominence. They relished the Monday night opportunity, not only because of the attention it offers but for bouncing back from the disappointing season opener.

The Bears left that visiting locker room at Lambeau Field gutted by the result. The incredible feats of that first half in Green Bay were washed away by Aaron Rodgers and the latest performance in his Hall of Fame career. The Bears let it sting for 48 hours and then did something about it.

Talking about it was just part of the solution. In practice, each player made it an emphasis to swarm at the football until the whistle sounded, then they took that mindset to the game. They spent the week studying how to nab an interception, to force a fumble, to win a game, then they took the approach to Soldier Field.

The Bears practiced what they preached.

"We kept emphasizing 'finish, finish,'" Jackson said. "That's been the topic of the week. That's the topic of the season. We need to continue to finish, because we know what we're capable of."

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for 670TheScore.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.​​