Dominant first half helps the Bears to a victory over the Redskins

LANDOVER, MD - SEPTEMBER 23: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix #21 of the Chicago Bears celebrates with teammates after scoring a touchdown against the Washington Redskins during the first half at FedExField on September 23, 2019 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

LANDOVER, MD. – If all had gone as fans would have dreamed, the first 30 minutes of Monday night’s game at Fed Ex Field would have come in the first 30 minutes of the season back on September 5th.

It took a while for the Bears to show off their dominant side in 2019, but Week 3 was their time.

With a swarming defense that was forcing turnovers and an offense that finally found some rhythm, Matt Nagy’s team rushed out to a 25-point halftime lead against the struggling Redskins in their best performance of the young season. It was a little sloppy in the second half, but the start was enough to give the Bears the 31-15 win over Washington on Monday Night Football.

The Bears improve to 2-1 on the season as they return home in six days for their second NFC North game of the season against the Minnesota Vikings Sunday at 3:25 PM.

It was an effort fueled by the Bears’ defense, who forced five turnovers on the night and had their first score of the season. Mitchell Trubisky also had a bounceback effort, going 25-of-31 with 231 yards with three touchdowns compared to an interception.

Receiver Taylor Gabriel was his favorite target, catching three second half touchdowns as part of his six-catch, 75 yard evening. He would leave the game in the third quarter with a concussion.

Conjuring up memories of 2018, the Bears opened the scoring with a defensive touchdown as Ha Ha Clinton-Dix picked off an overthrown pass by Case Keenum and returned it 37-yards for the touchdown to make it 7-0. It was one of three turnovers for the Bears’ defense in the first half, and the set up the offense to do some good things in the second quarter.

Mostly that involved the combination of Trubisky and  Gabriel, who connected a number of times to bust open the Bears’ lead. The pair connected on a short touchdown pass and catch from three-yards out to make it 14-0. After a Khalil Mack strip-sack set up a short field for the Bears’ on the Washington 14-yard line, Trubisky found Taylor for another scoring pass to make it 21-0.

In arguably the best offensive play of the season for the team, the pair connected on one more scoring throw before the half. Trubisky escaped pressure in the pocket and threw the ball toward the pylon for Gabriel who made the catch. Initially ruled out of bounds, it was overturned by replay, giving the Bears a 28-0 lead.

Gabriel became 35th player in NFL history with three touchdown receptions in the first half.

Aided by two penalties on the defense, the Redskins broke up the shutout with a Dustin Hopkins field goal to make it 28-3.

It was a sign of things to come for the Bears in the second half, who started well enough with another Clinton-Dix interception on Washington’s first drive. But Eddy Pineiro’s first missed field goal of the season, coming as he deals with an oblique injury, led to the first touchdown drive of the night for the Redskins. They scored on a Keenum to Terry McLaurin pass to make it 28-9 after the two-point try failed.

Trubisky then got picked for the first time on the night later in the third quarter when he underthrew a fade for Allen Robinson inside the ten-yard line. Washington then drove 97-yards and then scored on a short touchdown pass from Keenum to Paul Richardson and they were driving again later in the fourth, reaching the Bears’ 16-yard line. But on fourth-and-inches, Danny Trevathan knocked the ball out of Keenum’s hands as he tried to go over the pile, giving the Bears a much-needed stop.

Pineiro added a field goal in the final two minutes to give the Bears their first points of the second half, but they were only for insurance. A dominant first half on both sides of the football were enough for the victory.

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