On Thanksgiving In Detroit, Bears Show They Could Be Something 'Special'

November 22, 2018 - 5:03 pm
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DETROIT, Mich. (670 The Score) -- Soaking in the moment of yet another victory for his Bears, coach Matt Nagy had an appreciation for how he and this team have come together.

The Bears had just defeated the Lions, 23-16, at Ford Field on Thursday, improving to 8-3 and stretching their NFC North lead to two games. They've won five straight games, swept the string of three division games in 12 days and have something special in the works.

For the rookie head coach Nagy, there's added meaning to Thanksgiving.

"I'm thankful for a lot of things," Nagy said after the game. "Being a part of this team, this organization and this city is awesome."

Playing before a national audience for the second time in five days, the Bears made yet another statement that they're a legitimate contender. 

The Bears rallied behind backup quarterback Chase Daniel -- the 10-year NFL veteran making his third career start -- and won thanks to safety Eddie Jackson's pick-six of Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford with six minutes remaining. They sealed the victory on cornerback Kyle Fuller's interception in the end zone with 1:11 remaining, then danced in celebration like they so often do.

One play before, veteran cornerback Prince Amukamara reminded linebacker Danny Trevathan what he once said in a speech to his teammates: This is where great defenses become legendary. When the game was on the line, the Bears defense delivered once again.

"When they start getting big plays and stuff like that, the best thing not to do is to point or yell at each other," Amukamara said. "It's to unify, come together and say, 'We got this.' That's what happened."

Chase Daniel savors day in leading Bears to victory

Unity is clearly with this Bears team, which has followed the lead of the 40-year-old Nagy since his arrival in January. It's revealed in moments up a touchdown, defending the end zone, game on the line. It was also revealed Wednesday, when starting quarterback Mitchell Trubisky (right shoulder injury) joined Daniel and third-string quarterback Tyler Bray to prepare Daniel for his start.

Once the Bears touch down in Chicago on Thursday night, Daniel and his wife, Hillary, will host Trubisky and Bray for Thanksgiving dinner at their house. The turkey is sure to taste sweet.

Daniel was 27-of-37 for 230 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. He protected the football, stayed within the system he knows so well and led the Bears to victory. Thursday marked a rare chance for Daniel in his decade-long career, and he will savor it.

"It means a lot," Daniel said. "It means a lot. You don't know when these opportunities will come. You just have to make the most of them."

In the past dozen days, the Bears beat the Lions twice, with a victory against the Vikings sandwiched in between. Included in that stretch was the Bears overcoming the quickest turnaround between games in NFL history -- the Sunday primetime game followed by the early game on Thanksgiving Day -- by winning both games. In the final victory, they relied on a backup quarterback who had only been through walk-through practices in a short week.

The Bears' offense is still a work in progress -- namely in establishing the running game -- but has the potential for so much more with consistency and full continuity. So long as this defense keeps taking away the football, the Bears will be a force in December and perhaps into January. But sometimes, when the team is tired, sore and tested, it takes heart to prevail. That's what the Bears showed at Ford Field.

Nagy spoke to his team two weeks ago, leading up to that first game against the Lions at Soldier Field, and challenged them to overcome this stretch one game at a time.

"They took it as a challenge, and they finished it off today," Nagy said.

"There could've been excuses. There could've been a lot of excuses and feel sorry for themselves and they didn't do that."

How far can the Bears go? These challenging last two weeks revealed that Chicago has something potentially special in the works. What follows the final five games of the regular season will map out that destination.

First, the Bears will get a much-needed break from football in these next four days, which Nagy has called a mini-bye. They can enjoy Thanksgiving dinner with full plates and high hopes.

Confident, close-knit and clicking, the Bears have plenty of blessings to count.

"I'm starting to learn as a head coach what this team is, who we are," Nagy said. "And it's special."

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