By practically every measure, the Bears’ 28-13 win over the Lions was a signature victory. It was the first time the Bears won back-to-back games under Matt Eberflus. It was their first win against a division-leading team under Matt Eberflus. It was closure after choking away what appeared to be a sure victory against the Lions less than a month ago at Ford Field.
But while the Bears celebrated the win in their locker room after the game, they were sure not to put the performance on a pedestal.
“We ain’t do nothing yet,” said Jaquan Brisker. “It’s a great divisional win, but we ain’t do nothing yet. Defense has to get better. We’re 5-8 right now, so we gotta keep stacking ‘em one day at a time, one game at a time. We still ain’t do nothing yet.”
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“We’re just keeping a little bit of momentum,” said Justin Jones.
To a man, the Bears said this was not a statement win even though everything else pointed to the contrary. They’re not satisfied with one win in December over a playoff-caliber team. They believe they have more work to do before they make a real statement.
“We’re just trying to get to the playoffs,” said Jaylon Johnson. “We know what we need to do to get to the playoffs. We’re just trying to do what we can and keep fighting, like we’ve been doing all season.”
Brisker, Jones and Johnson were key figures in the team’s second-half defensive surge. Brisker led the way with an incredible 17 tackles over the game. Jones notched one and a half sacks late in the fourth quarter to help the team seal the win. Johnson continued his campaign for his first All-Pro honors by snatching his fourth interception of the year.
Of course, Justin Fields’ dynamic game both through the air and on the ground played a huge role in the win. If the Bears have any hope of making a bigger statement later in the season, they’ll need him to be at his best for the rest of the year. But Fields also kept a level head after the win.
“Keep everything the same,” Fields said. “Don’t get too high, don’t get too low. There’s still a lot of spots to improve upon. We probably could’ve put up 40 if we executed better.”
Head coach Matt Eberflus has been steadfast in his 30 games leading the team, so it’s no surprise that he too cautioned against making too much of the win. Eberflus did say that the two-game win streak was proof positive that the team was on the right track, but emphasized that they need to stick on course.
“It’s not all rose-colored glasses just because you won the game,” Eberflus said. “That’s not it. You’ve got to learn from this game and get better.”
It’s hard to believe that the Bears have put themselves in a position to talk playoffs at all after last year’s league-worst 3-14 season and this year’s disastrous 0-4 start, but the Bears have played better. If the Packers lose on Monday night, then the Bears would be just one game back of five teams in line for the seven seed in the NFC with 6-7 records. A playoff berth is still unrealistic for the team, but they’ve legitimately played themselves onto the “In The Hunt” graphic that we see so often.
Whether or not a bigger statement comes this season, the Bears have already sent a memo to the football world that they’re far from being the worst team in the league again.