It is unlikely to change the course of Matt Nagy’s tenure in Chicago, but his decision to go for a two-point conversion finally gave Chicago a much needed win.
Nick Foles found out on Friday before the game that he would be starting.
“I did my job,” said Foles. “I knew my teammates needed me because of the situation. It’s been really unique this year in Chicago. There’s no vindication. I just did my job. It doesn’t matter if you’re the first string, second string or third string. You have to know who you are as a human being, and what’s you’re identity. I was the third string quarterback tonight. I’m grateful for my teammates for being there for me tonight.”
Foles finished the game 24-35 for 250 yards, a touchdown to Jimmy Graham, and more importantly, no interceptions. Khalil Herbert and David Montgomery added scoring runs.
On the defensive side, rookie Thomas Grant, Jr. continued his impressive play. He got burned on a early touchdown pass to DK Metcalf, but then settled down and held his own against his offensive counterparts.
Nagy talked about the strategy during the final, game-winning drive. “You have the clock working for you, and against you at the same time. Because you know once you get down there, you are in four-down territory. You also know you have some time outs left. But you also have to be careful of scoring too quickly, because now you’re going to give Russell (Wilson) and that offense time to kick a field goal and win.
We all knew before that drive we were going for two.-Matt Nagy
Nagy explained the rationale for taking the chance on the two-point conversion. “In the weather conditions, on the road against Russell Wilson, in that moment we felt pretty good about the play call. It was pretty evident from the players, coaches, all of us that we felt really good in that situation. It was one of those games when you’re behind the entire game, and you can end it like that. I felt like that we would have definitely done that.”
Nagy affirmed that even if a playoff spot was on the line, they would have made the same choice to go for two. “On that two point play, they showed man.” At that point was where Nagy got technical, but he basically explained that the Seahawks focused their coverage on Mooney, leaving Byrd open, and he “broke off his route, and Nick saw that.” Foles described it as “backyard football” where Byrd improvised and got open.
That two-point conversion doesn’t happen unless Foles connects with TE Jimmy Graham. “Who’s covering Jimmy?” explained Foles. When he noticed that Graham was in single coverage with a much shorter defensive back. “I’m just going to throw a nice little ‘two-ball’ and let him close the cushion and do his thing.”
Not entirely lost in the moment was Robert Quinn’s sack of Wilson to tie Hall of Famer Richard Dent for the team’s single season record. “I’m just doing my job” said Quinn, with same nonchalant demeanor he has displayed all season.
More from Nagy: “The execution of the players being able to rebound back from some negative stuff was good, and our defense being able to stop them at the end and not let them cross midfield.”
Several players from the practice squad were called up to fill vacancies on the active roster due to players sidelined by Covid protocols. One of those was North Carolina rookie Dazz Newsome, who was given punt return duty, after Damiere Byrd completely whiffed on his first punt last week against the Vikings. Newsome made the most of his opportunity, returning his first punt 28 yards to the Seattle 15, leading to Chicago’s first score.
Nagy continues to echo his “completely empty your cup” philosophy. “I believe in hard work, I believe in doing this the right way, and I believe in fighting. I believe in fighting when things aren’t good or when things aren’t easy. As we know, going into these final two games, not being able to make the playoffs, we have an obligation to do that, plain and simple.”
Next up for the Bears, a real chance to win again, as the (4-11) New York Giants come to Soldier Field.