As Cairo Santos sent a 28-yard field goal through the uprights as the seconds wound down Thursday afternoon, he saved the Chicago Bears from a bad week turning into an even bigger embarrassment.
The Bears didn’t need to give the Detroit Lions their first win of the season on Thanksgiving at Ford Field.
Not after Bears rookie Justin Fields injured his ribs and was forced to sit out the week. Not after a report emerged that Bears ownership told coach Matt Nagy they were going to fire him after the Thanksgiving game. Not after Nagy was left by his bosses to refute the report to the media himself.
Santos’ field goal in the final seconds lifted the Bears to a 16-14 victory over the Lions to snap a five-game losing streak and end a nightmare of a week.
Bears quarterback Andy Dalton, filling in for the injured Fields, completed 24 of 39 passes for 317 yards, a touchdown and an interception to lead the Bears to the victory.
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The winning drive included a nice play on third-and-5 in which Dalton shrugged off pressure and found Damiere Byrd for a 13-yard pass to get to midfield. He also hit Byrd on third-and-4 from the 11-yard line — a third down that was shortened by 5 yards when the Lions were penalized for calling back-to-back timeouts.
Jared Goff’s 17-yard touchdown pass to T.J. Hockenson gave the Lions a 14-13 lead with 1:46 to play in the third quarter.
The Lions got the drive going when Goff threw a 17-yard pass to Kalif Raymond and Bears inside linebacker Christian Jones was called for a 15-yard unnecessary roughness for throwing Raymond down at the end of the play. That got the Lions in Bears territory.
Goff completed 21 of 25 passes for 171 yards and two touchdowns against a Bears defense that lost inside linebacker Roquan Smith to a hamstring injury.
After the Bears led 13-7 at halftime, they didn’t score in the third quarter.
Santos missed a 53-yard field-goal attempt on a drive that was stalled in part because of Cody Whitehair’s holding penalty on third-and-6 at the Lions 25-yard line.
Here’s how the Week 12 game unfolded.
At Halas Hall this week ...
After the Bears’ fifth straight loss Sunday against the Ravens, their short week to get ready for the Lions was disrupted by a report that the Bears planned to fire coach Matt Nagy after the Thanksgiving game. Bears Chairman George McCaskey told players and coaches that report was not true, according to the Athletic, but it still put a wrinkle in the team’s preparations.
- Matt Nagy met with Bears ownership before Tuesday’s 2nd walk-through, sources say, and later canceled the rest of the day’s meetings
- ‘That is not accurate’: How a report stating Bears coach Matt Nagy will be fired after Thursday’s game set off a strange day at Halas Hall
- Column: As a report of Matt Nagy’s imminent firing swirls, the Bears leave their coach to fend for himself. Whether it’s after Thursday’s game or before Week 17, the end seems near.
- ‘This is a roller-coaster league’: Amid a report of Matt Nagy’s possible firing, Bears players try to tune out the noise
- Cary-Grove principal apologizes to Lake Forest High School following ‘fire Nagy’ chants at playoff football game
- The Bears have never fired a coach midseason. Here’s a look at how past coaches have fared — and when they left the franchise.
Justin Fields update
NFL Network reported Thursday that an MRI on rookie QB Justin Fields’ ribs showed he had “tiny fractures” in a few of his ribs.
It’s not a major injury, but worse than the outlet’s original report that initial tests showed his ribs were just bruised.
“We’re really fortunate that it’s nothing long-term; it’s definitely not an IR thing,” said Bears general manager Ryan Pace on his pregame show on WBBM-AM 780. “It’s more of a day-to-day thing. We’ll get through this game. The good thing about it is you’ll have some extra time after this game to re-evaluate, not just Justin but some other guys, get them healthy, and get them ready to roll.”
Bears coach Matt Nagy said earlier this week he didn’t know whether the injury was from a single play or multiple hits. Fields left Sunday’s loss to the Ravens early in the third quarter after he was taken down on a 6-yard run.
Thursday is the first game he has missed since he took over as Bears starter for then-injured Andy Dalton in Week 3.
Week 12 inactives announced
Bears wide receiver Allen Robinson will not play in Thursday’s game against the Lions as he continues his recovery from a hamstring injury.
Robinson was listed as doubtful to play after he didn’t practice all week.
The Bears previously announced quarterback Justin Fields (ribs), running back Damien Williams (calf) and defensive lineman Akiem Hicks (ankle) would not play because of their injuries.
Also inactive for the Bears are cornerback Teez Tabor, tight end Jesper Horsted and defensive lineman Mario Edwards Jr.
Bears safety Eddie Jackson will make his return from a hamstring injury after he missed the last two games.
For the Lions, wide receiver Trinity Benson, quarterback David Blough, outside linebacker Trey Flowers, and offensive linemen Matt Nelson and Halapoulivaati Vaitai are inactive.
Halftime: Bears 13, Lions 7
Andy Dalton threw for 220 yards and a touchdown and Cairo Santos made two field goals to help the Bears to a 13-7 halftime lead against the Lions at Ford Field.
Dalton completed 16 of 26 passes and led a two-play, 69-yard touchdown drive. Dalton completed a 52-yard pass to Darnell Mooney and a 17-yard touchdown pass to Jimmy Graham for a 10-7 lead late in the second quarter.
Amani Oruwariye picked off Dalton’s pass intended for Damiere Byrd in the end zone later in the second quarter, but the Lions went nowhere on their drive and gave the Bears the ball back with 1:09 to play in the half.
Santos made a 43-yard field goal to end the half.
A Bears defense that got off to a bad start got a takeaway late in the second quarter.
As outside linebacker Robert Quinn took down quarterback Jared Goff, Trevis Gipson punched the ball out and recovered it. Officials originally called Goff down, but Matt Nagy challenged the call and it was overturned.
The Bears started cornerback Artie Burns in place of second-year corner Kindle Vildor, who struggled Sunday against the Ravens, including on their game-winning drive.
The Lions almost immediately picked on Burns. On their first drive, wide receiver Josh Reynolds beat Burns to catch a 39-yard touchdown pass from Jared Goff for a 7-0 lead with 9:33 to play in the first quarter.
The Bears got to the 10-yard line on a drive in which Dalton had a 33-yard pass to Mooney and a 17-yard pass to Graham, who made a nice, low grab. But Dalton threw back-to-back incompletions into the end zone on second and third down, the latter nearly an interception by Oruwariye before tight end Jesse James batted it down.
Santos then made a 28-yard field goal to cut the Lions’ lead to 7-3 with 13:24 to play in the second quarter.
Bears inside linebacker Roquan Smith left the game on the Lions’ first drive of the second quarter, briefly went in the injury tent and then remained on the sideline with his helmet off. The Bears announced he was out with a hamstring injury.
Outside linebacker Sam Kamara has been ruled out with a concussion.
Lions running back D’Andre Swift also went down in the second quarter with a shoulder injury and is out for the rest of the game.