Chicago Bears: Turkey Day: Santos kicks last-second field goal in win over Lions


by - Senior Writer -
Santos had the game-winning kick on Thanksgiving (David Reginek - USAT)
Santos had the game-winning kick on Thanksgiving (David Reginek - USAT)

DETROIT – Happy Thanksgiving to everyone and their families. With most of us spending time with our families during the holiday season, the Chicago Bears (4-7) had some business to take care of as they took on the Detroit Lions (0-10-1) for some holiday football. In a matchup of losing streaks, something had to give as the Bears entered the contest riding a five-game skid while Detroit has been winless in their last 14 games.

While the Bears were without Allen Robinson and Justin Fields, among others, they did have Andy Dalton, his first start since week two, coming off an impressive second-half showing against the Ravens on Sunday. Dalton proved that rust wasn't an issue completing 24-39 passes for 317 yards and one touchdown. It was his first 300 yard game of the season and 30th as a starting QB.

Not knowing who the Lions starter would be until early Thursday morning, Jared Goff was healthy enough to give it a go after missing last week's game. Goff got off to a great start completing his first 12 passes of the game and going 21-25 on the day. Chicago did a great job limiting those completions as he was held to just 171 yards in a 16-14 Bears win to end their skid.

Despite a winless record, the Lions have continued to show plenty of fight, which was evident on their first possession of the game. After forcing a Chicago punt, Detroit wasted no time driving down the field on seven plays covering 69 yards. DeAndre Swift was the catalyst to open the drive before Goff hooked up with Josh Reynolds for 16 yards moving the ball into Bears territory. The two of them were not finished as Goff found Reynolds on third and long for 39 yards giving the Lions a 7-0 lead.

The offense continued to be an issue for the Bears early as they couldn't get much going offensively. Fortunately for them, the defense did a great job holding the Lions in check, which gave the offense plenty of chances. The first of those chances came late in the first quarter and into the second when the Bears used a 10-play 74-yard drive to score their first points of the game.

David Montgomery struggled to get much of anything throughout the first half, but Chicago kept feeding him the ball to help set up the passing game. That worked in their favor, with Dalton finding Darnell Mooney for 33 yards moving the ball to the Lions 31. Mooney had a monster game again, picking up his third 100-yard receiving game this season and second straight as he led the way with 123 yards on five receptions. Another big pass to Jimmy Graham moved the ball inside the 10, but the Bears had to settle for the Cairo Santos field goal and still trialed 7-3.

The second quarter appeared to be what the Bears needed as not only was their defense playing well, but the offense stepped up in a big way. Following another punt, Dalton led the Bears down the field with his arm needing just two plays to go 69 yards. The first was a 52-yard bomb to Mooney moving the ball inside the 20. One play later, Dalton went over the middle to Graham as the 17-yard strike gave Chicago a 10-7 lead.

With the Bears offense starting to get in gear, it was time for the defense to make a play as Roquan Smith sacked Goff forcing a fumble which Tashaun Gipson recovered. Initially ruled a sack, the Bears challenged the call, and Goff indeed fumbled, giving Chicago the ball back with a short field. A nice gain to Cole Kmet set the offense up nicely, but a third-down interception in the endzone by the Lions killed the Bears drive and kept things at a one-score game. Chicago wouldn't go away empty-handed as Santos connected on a 43-yard field goal before the end of the half giving the Bears a 13-7 halftime lead.

While the first half, especially the second quarter, was filled with excitement, most of the second half was filled with subpar play as neither team wanted to win. Santos had an opportunity to put the Bears up by two scores earlier in the half but saw his 53-yard field goal try fall short as the Lions dodged a bullet.

The Lions could not capitalize on that missed field goal try, but after consecutive punts from both sides, it was Detroit coming through when it mattered most. For the Lions to win the game, they would have to do it without their best weapon D'Andre Swift who was lost late in the first half with an injury. That may have affected the running game, but Goff did his part with his arm finding Kalif Raymond for 17 yards before hitting TJ Hockenson for another nice gain.

Godwin Igwebuike filled in for Swift and put together a few nice runs, but it was the arm of Goff that was going to have to get the job done. After hitting Amon St. Brown for 11 yards, Goff went back to his TE Hockenson on the corner route as he hauled in the 17-yard reception for the go-ahead touchdown 14-13. With each team punting it away on their next possessions, the Bears got the ball back and had a chance to finish things off once and for all.

Despite more than eight minutes to go in the game, Dalton and the offense wanted to make sure they chewed up as much clock as possible to give the Lions little to no time to work with. A couple of nice runs from Montgomery and Khalil Herbert kept the Lions defense guess with Damiere Byrd picking up a 13 yard first down. Byrd hasn't seen a ton of time this season, but he got a rare start and played well with Robinson out.

A first-down run from Montgomery was followed by a Kmet first down reception as the Bears were within field goal range. Before you knew it, the Bears were inside the Lions 10 yard line with less than two minutes to go. With the game within their reach, Dalton went into the victory formation, kneeling three times to set up a potential game-winning field goal try.

Looking to put the game away, Santos capped off an 18 play drive that spanned the final 8:30 of the game as his 28-yard attempt split the uprights ending the Bears losing streak and giving them a 16-14 win. The win was long overdue for this team, but it still may not be enough to save Nagy's job after being reported that he would be fired following this game. While it has not happened yet, the Bears can enjoy the holiday season a little more knowing they came away with a victory.

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