3 Takeaways from Bears' Week 16 Win
Even though the Chicago Bears have been eliminated from playoff contention this season, they're still trying to win games down the stretch. That was evident during their matchup against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday afternoon.
Nick Foles threw a game-winning two-point conversion to Damiere Byrd with 1:01 to go in the fourth quarter, lifting the Bears to a 25-24 victory at snowy Lumen Field. Chicago improved to 5-10, ending a skid in which it had lost eight of its previous nine games.
Instead of kicking an extra point and potentially playing to force overtime, the Bears successfully converted their try for two to take a late lead. Their defense then held off the Seahawks over the final minute, forcing a turnover on downs on four plays.
Here are three takeaways from Chicago's Week 16 win.
Veterans Play Big Roles in Game-Winning Drive
For teams eliminated from the playoff contention, the late games of the season are frequently used to evaluate younger players for the future. However, it can also be an opportunity for experienced veterans to show they can still contribute, and that's what happened on the Bears' final drive on Sunday.
Foles made his first start of the year with both Justin Fields (ankle) and Andy Dalton (hand/groin) currently dealing with injuries. The 32-year-old former Super Bowl MVP took some time to shake off the rust, but he ended up leading a game-winning drive.
With 1:01 to go, Foles threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jimmy Graham, a 12-year NFL veteran. That's when Chicago opted to go for the go-ahead two-point conversion, which was successful when the 28-year-old Byrd made an incredible catch in the end zone on a high pass from Foles amid a trio of defenders.
"We locked eyes and he ended up throwing it and I just knew I had to go up and get it," Byrd said, per Tim Booth of the Associated Press.
While Foles, Graham and Byrd may not have long-term futures with the Bears, they came together to create an incredible finish and lead the team to an exciting win. And while it may not mean much for Chicago, it was still among the most exciting moments of its season.
The Defense Mostly Struggled to Limit Big Plays
At the end of the third quarter, the Bears trailed 24-14, before they came from behind by scoring 10 points in the fourth to secure the victory. But early in the game, Chicago was having some trouble stopping Seattle's offense, particularly with big plays.
The Seahawks took a 7-0 lead six minutes into the game, as Russell Wilson threw a 41-yard touchdown pass to DK Metcalf. That was one of six plays of 20-plus yards that were given up by the Bears defense Sunday, which was a key reason why they still trailed late.
Chicago stopped Seattle on each of its final two drives, though, which came at the most important time of the game. So while the big plays were a problem early, the Bears made the proper adjustments to play well enough to win.
Still, that's an area in which Chicago could improve, as it would have been in a better position in the fourth quarter if it hadn't given up long plays early. Seattle scored 24 points even though it possessed the ball for only 21:35, which shows how effective its big-play ability was.
Nagy's Future Could Still Be Uncertain Despite Victory
Prior to Sunday's game, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported that Matt Nagy's status as the Bears head coach was "very much in doubt" and that he's facing an "uphill battle to keep his job." Rapoport even noted that Nagy could have been fired after the matchup against Seattle if Chicago had lost.
The Bears won, and Nagy didn't get let go. However, this one victory may not be enough for him to stick around in Chicago beyond this season. And maybe he'll still get fired before the team's final game is played.
Although the Bears won in impressive fashion, they're a 10-loss team that quickly fell out of contention after a 3-2 start. It's the first time since Nagy became head coach prior to the 2018 season that Chicago will finish with a losing record, although it went 8-8 in both 2019 and 2020.
The Seahawks are having a tough season themselves, as they're now also 5-10 after Sunday's game. So it wasn't a high-quality win for the Bears, even if it was a thrilling one.
It sure seems like Nagy could still be let go, whether that's at some point during the next two weeks or after the season is over. But after Rapoport's report, this continues to be a situation to monitor.