CHICAGO – If you were hoping to use some of your old “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” lines or 1985 team references, you might be a little bit disappointed.
Just as he is finding people to run his unique plays, Matt Nagy is making sure to spread the nicknames around, too.
The newest is a play on the holiday season, fitting for a chilly night at Soldier Field. It was debuted in the third quarter Sunday against the Rams, with the focus being on the same player that executed one of these gimmicks plays the week before.
Yet Nagy had another trick up his sleeve on this play, he also had a new name.
“Santa’s Sleigh,” said Nagy when asked for the name on this particular down near the Los Angeles goal line with the Bears holding onto a two-point lead – and this player had a new star emerge with similar characters.
With Akiem Hicks, who scored a touchdown on the “Freezer Left” play in last week’s game against the Giants ala William Perry, lined up behind Trubisky, many thought he’d get the handoff again on third down. This was especially true when three other defensive lineman – Jonathan Bullard, Roy Robertson-Harris, and Bilal Nichols – lined up near the line for the formation.
Instead it was Bradley Sowell, who declared himself eligible before the play, who went into the endzone and caught a pass from Trubisky for his first career touchdown and the only one the Bears scored on the evening.
“Santa’s Sleigh. Ho, Ho, Ho, Merry Christmas. Presents down the chimney,” said Trubisky of the play.
When asked about the protection on the play with so many lineman in, the quarterback responded: “We got some big boys in there.”
Credit the Bears for pulling off the play, considering it was practiced for the first time on Friday. It was particularly interesting for Sowell, who naturally didn’t have much experience when it comes to catching passes.
“With Nagy you never know,” said Sowell. “You just show up every week and you may be in there, ready to roll. Have to be on alert with him.”
That was the case in the third quarter, when Sowell got the call for the play near the goal line
“When you see those plays, you say ‘Hey, a lot of stuff has to happen to actually work in the game and everything. So you don’t try to get too excited,” said Sowell. “Once we got on the goal line, I’m like ‘Wow, here we go.’ When he called it, I’m like ‘let’s go execute it.'”
Indeed he did, breaking through the line, then reaching up to snag the touchdown pass. It was the only one the Bears scored all day, and it was quite an experience for the lineman.
“When you actually catch the touchdown, you blank out,” said Sowell. “I have no clue what happened after that. I just got my little dance on.”
It was the only touchdown of the day for the Bears in a 15-6 defensive struggle that proved to be the Bears’ best win of 2018. Yet it’s another play with a clever name with an unsung hero that steals the headlines for a creative Nagy team.
“Yeah, it was an awesome play. When we first installed it, we were going to put it in the incubator. We install a play, maybe we’ll practice it,” said Trubisky. “Literally we’ll put that play in. If we get down there, we need to call this, this is going to work. Santa’s Sleigh, came a little early.”
But just in time for another critical victory, no matter what the name may be.