CHICAGO (AP) — Christian Holmes recovered a muffed punt by Velus Jones deep in Chicago territory to set up a 1-yard run by rookie Brian Robinson for his first touchdown midway through the fourth quarter, and the Washington Commanders stopped a four-game losing streak, hanging on to beat the Bears 12-7 Thursday night.
This one might not have been quite as ugly as the Colts-Broncos yawner a week earlier that had famed play-by-play announcer Al Michaels launching zingers and creating a buzz on social media. There were plenty of bad reads, tipped balls, overthrown passes and sloppy play in general. But there was also no shortage of drama down the stretch.
The Commanders (2-4) took advantage of two turnovers after taking the ball away just once in the first five games in winning for the first time since beating Jacksonville in the opener. Jonathan Allen intercepted Justin Fields deep in Washington territory in the first half. Benjamin St-Juste stopped Darnell Mooney just shy of the end zone in the closing minute of the game, and the Bears (2-4) lost their third in a row.
“God is good, man,” Allen said. “The NFL is not for the faint of heart. Tough game, man. I’m glad we’re able to pull it out at the end.”
Washington caught a huge break when it punted on fourth down at its 37. Jones had trouble tracking the ball, then let it hit off his arms.
Holmes recovered it in a big pile at the 6, and Robinson scored two plays later, making it 12-7 with 7:21 remaining.
Carson Wentz overthrew Curtis Samuel in the back of the end zone on the 2-point conversion attempt, and Joey Slye missed a 48-yard field goal wide left with 1:48 remaining.
Fields then broke off a 39-yard run to the 5. But after blowing two big scoring chances in the first half, the Bears let another slip away.
“We always get told that we’re almost there, we’re almost there,” Fields said. “Me personally, I’m tired of being almost there. I’m tired of being just this close. I feel like I’ve been hearing it for so long now.”
Dante Pettis was unable to hang onto a third-down pass in the end zone with Darrick Forrest all over him. A leaping Darnell Mooney got knocked out of bounds by Benjamin St-Juste inches shy of the goal line as he hauled in a pass.
Fields, whose left shoulder was bothering him, completed 14 of 27 passes for 190 yards and a touchdown after setting career highs in completion rate (71.4 %) and passer rating (118.8) against Minnesota on Sunday. He also ran for 88 yards.
“I think he took a step forward, I really do,” coach Matt Eberflus said. “The toughness. For me, the ability to take the ball and drive it down at the very end, to give us a chance to win it — that’s to me what was the improvement. Were there other moments that we need to clean up and the offense needs to clean up? Sure. But we had the drives down there, and if we punch those in, the game’s a different game.”
Pettis had four catches for 84 yards, including a 40-yard touchdown.
The Bears, wearing orange jerseys and helmets, blew huge scoring chances on back-to-back possessions in the first half.
They had the ball at the Washington 5 late in the first quarter when Fields threw a laser that hit defensive tackle Efe Obada’s helmet and popped into the air. Allen came away with the interception and just the second takeaway for Washington this season.
“I don’t know even know what happened, man,” he said. “I’m just, like I said, I’m able to make a lot of plays because of the guys I’m playing beside. (Daron) Payne, Efe (Obrada), (Montez) Sweat, James Smith-Williams, I play besides some great guys, so they made my job a lot easier.”
The Bears had another big chance early in the second, when Khalil Herbert broke a tackle and crossed the field on a 64-yard run to the 6. But Fields overthrew a wide open Ryan Griffin in the end zone and Herbert got stopped on fourth down at the 1.
Joey Slye gave Washington a 3-0 lead when he kicked a field goal in the closing minute of the first half.