The Chicago Bears got the win they needed Sunday, not the performance they needed.
After struggling to a sloppy 13-10 halftime lead, the Bears pulled away from woeful Jacksonville and quarterback Mike Glennon for a 41-17 victory to set themselves up for Green Bay next week with a playoff berth attainable.
"They've responded and they put us now in a situation where it could've went a lot different direction and it hasn't," Bears coach Matt Nagy said of his players. "Now, we control things."
If the Bears show up and play at Soldier Field the way they played in the first half against the Jaguars, they'll need to back-door their way into the playoffs.
The Bears can become the third team with a six-game losing streak ever to make the playoffs simply by beating the Packers at Soldier Field, or if the Rams beat the Cardinals. It will no doubt be a quick postseason if they get in and play like they did in the first half against the Jaguars.
Mitchell Trubisky's poor decision and interception in the end zone just before halftime capped off a miserable first half for the Bears. However, Roquan Smith quickly got the ball back with the first of two interceptions he made of Glennon, and Cairo Santos' 40-yard field goal made it a 13-10 Chicago lead at the half.
"I thought we could've been a little bit better in the second quarter," Trubisky said. "Just with our communication, being faster in and out of the huddle and getting substitutions in the game a little bit better.
"I thought we cleaned it up in the second half."
Jacksonville was finished then, and set about clinching the top pick in the 2021 NFL draft. The end for the Jaguars came in what traditionally is a bad quarter for the Bears offense, the third, as Trubisky began making better decisions.
"I just settled down a little bit, not trying to force things and it just allowed us to execute and have a big third quarter," Trubisky said.
Trubisky finished 24 of 35 for 265 yards and the offense woke up in the third quarter by scoring touchdowns on their first three possessions after Santos' go-ahead field goal.
"That third quarter for us, being able to come out and get 21-0 in the third and have 11 first downs and our defense to hold them to no first downs and eight total yards, that was obviously the turning point in the game," Nagy said.
Trubisky scrambled in for a 6-yard TD on second down, then Montgomery pounded in up the middle for a 6-yard TD and 27-10 lead. Finally Trubisky threw 22 yards to Jimmy Graham for the third of those TDs.
"We weren’t finishing the way we wanted to finish," Trubisky said. "We weren’t executing on all cylinders like we can, so we (said) let’s play 11 as one, let’s go out there and be us, let’s have some fun in the third quarter in the second half. There wasn’t really too much said. Everyone knew what they had to do.
"But we just went out and did it and it made for a fun third quarter and a lot of it started up front, just the O-line creating holes for the running backs, giving me time to make decisions and get the ball to our playmakers and then on top of that our defense was lights out in the third quarter with some three-and-outs."
They made it four straight possessions with TDs in the fourth quarter on Artavis Pierce's first career score, a 3-yard run, and then went to Nick Foles at quarterback to mop up.
"We were just in go mode," running back David Montgomery said. "We've just got to go. We've got to attack. We've got to put our foot on the gas. We came out slow. In the first half we played real slow and it hasn't been how we've been playing for the past couple of weeks.
"So we went into the locker room and we focused on accountability from the standpoint of it all, holding each other accountable. You could see when we came out in the second half we started attacking."
All of this couldn't wipe out a first half when Jacksonville's defense found a way to stuff the Bears running game like no one had since Minnesota did it Nov. 16, and also hurt the Bears defense on the ground.
The problems seeped over into the passing game, as Trubisky was forced to throw from the pocket and struggled at it. But Smith's interception helped turn it.
"That was big, that T," Smith said. "Then with the offense kicking a field goal, having the momentum going into halftime, then getting the ball coming out of halftime. So those guys just coming out and keeping their pedal to the floor. It all paid off, so it was good team win."
The defense looked as sluggish as the offense early. Glennon threw for a first-half TD and later had another against the Bears reserves. He finished 24 of 37 for 211 yards with two picks and the two TDs.
Montgomery finished with 95 yards on 23 carries after being ineffective early and was able to go over 1,000 yards on the year. Allen Robinson hit the 100-catch mark for the first time in his career by hauling in 10 passes for 103 yards against his old team.
Graham caught both of Trubisky's TD passes and finished with four catches for 69 yards.
'We’re guaranteed one more game, nothing else," Nagy said. "If we do well in that one game, then we’ll have an opportunity for more. But we can’t worry about that. We just worry about us.”
There's a lot to worry about.