The Arizona Cardinals welcomed the Chicago Bears to State Farm Stadium on Sunday. Steve Wilks’ group entered the game looking for their first victory of 2018. Arizona jumped out to an early lead in front of the home crowd with a pair of passing touchdowns. The defense struggled at times with stopping the Chicago ground game but held the Bears offense for most of the game. In the end it was costly mistakes lost the game for Arizona.
A Fast Start
Through two weeks the Cardinals offense struggled to do anything other than keep the defense on the field for far too long without much to show for. On Sunday the Cardinals got off to a quick start. Sam Bradford took just under three minutes and to drive the Cardinals down field before finding tight end Ricky Seals-Jones on a 35 yard pass for a score. The tight end found himself with acres of space.
The Cardinals defense gave up a couple of big runs as Chicago focused on the run game with Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen but held and forced a punt. A Cardinals punt was followed by a fumble by Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky. Robert Nkemdiche forced the turnover with Corey Peters making the recovery. It took one play for Bradford to find another wide open receiver for a 21 yd touchdown pass. This time it was running back David Johnson who beat linebacker Danny Trevathan.
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Three drives for the Cardinals to start the game and 14 points gave them the lead to end the first quarter. Chicago scraped back into the game in the second quarter with a field goal after a 11 play drive. The Cardinals defense collected their second takeaway on a Trubisky interception by Tre’ Boston. A leaping Chandler Jones leading to the diving catch by Boston. The turnover gave Arizona the ball at the Chicago 34 yard line. However, a Khalil Mack sack on third down put the Cardinals at the Chicago 39 yard line. Wilks decided to punt the football and the Bears ran out the clock. Arizona headed into the locker room leading by a 14-3 score line.
Chicago’s first drive of the second half went three plays and lost a yard. Bradford gave the Bears back the football on a deep interception by safety Eddie Jackson. The veteran quarterback was looking for J.J. Nelson on the play. Chicago took the turnover and moved into Arizona territory. At the Cardinals’ 18 yard line Trubisky rolled right and made a risky throw toward the middle of the field. Tre’ Boston dove and broke up the pass. Replays showed Boston breaking on the football and in position to make an interception before tripping over the foot of receiver Allen Robinson. Chicago used followed a Tarik Cohen 17 yard run with Jordan Howard up the middle for a yard and a score. Midway through the third quarter the Cardinals were in trouble and clinging to a 14-10 lead.
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The Bradford interception started a streak of consecutive drives ending with a turnover. Four consecutive Arizona drives ended in a turnover. Bradford followed the Chicago touchdown with a second interception, this time by Sherrick McManis. Chicago added a field goal to pull within a point. Arizona needed a long drive to rest the defense and extend the lead. The Cardinals drove into Bears territory with the help of a 32 yard pass from Bradford to Christian Kirk. Arizona was in field goal range and looked to be threatening. As he’s done through the first two games of 2018, Khalil Mack made a play when it mattered most. Mack chased down Bradford and punished the quarterback after a short gain. The hit knocked the ball lose and Chicago recovered.
Chicago methodically marched down the field and drained almost seven minutes from the clock. The Cardinals defense held the Bears to a field goal but now trailed 16-14. The Bears were helped by an unnecessary roughness call on Tre’ Boston for a late hit after an incompletion on second down. Without the penalty the Bears would have faced a 3rd and 12 from their own 41 yard line. However, the field goal put pressure back on to the shoulders of the Arizona offense.
The Rosen One
Wilks and offensive coordinator Mike McCoy decided to make the switch to rookie quarterback Josh Rosen. The decision was met with a roar from the home crowd in State Farm Stadium. Rosen began his first regular season NFL action at the Arizona 25 yard line and 190 seconds left in the game. The rookie drove Arizona into Chicago territory before being faced with a fourth down. The Cardinals needed five yards to keep the drive going and get a chance to bring in Phil Dawson for the go-ahead field goal. Rosen dropped back and lofted a pass toward the right sideline toward Kirk breaking on an out route. Chicago cornerback Bryce Callahan undercut the late throw and made the interception.
The Cardinals defense again stiffened and forced a Chicago punt with under a minute remaining. Rosen moved the offense near midfield to set up a last gasp with five seconds remaining. Chicago called a time out after lining up with just three rushers. Bears head coach Matt Nagy and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio chose to send a blitz to disrupt the timing of an attempting last heave. The Cardinals sent their receivers deep but Rosen was unable to get a pass off as the pressure closed in and McManis collected the sack. Arizona fell by a score of 16-14 in heartbreaking fashion.
Up Next for Arizona
Bradford finished with 157 yards, completing 13 of 19 passes for two scores and two interceptions. He also lost a fumble. Rosen completed four out of seven passes for 36 yards and an interception. Running back David Johnson finished with 12 carries for 31 yards and added 30 yards receiving on four receptions. Christian Kirk led all pass catchers for the game with seven catches totaling 90 yards. Arizona fell to 0-3 on the season while Chicago advanced to 2-1. The Cardinals sit at the bottom of the NFC West and await a visit from the Seahawks next Sunday. Chicago returns home to host Tampa Bay.