By Nate Johnson
It wasn’t a big surprise that the Chicago Bears rode an all-purpose back to a 22-19 road win over the San Diego Chargers on Monday. The surprise was that it was not Matt Forte, but this year’s fourth-round draft pick, Jeremy Langford, who helped the team snap a two-game losing streak with a 15-point second-half surge.
Langford put up 142 total yards, a rushing touchdown, and a two-point conversion dash as part of a patchwork Bears offense that was missing Forte, Eddie Royal, and rookie center Hroniss Grasu. His conversion followed a 25-yard scoring strike from Jay Cutler, to tight end Zach Miller, which gave the team a lead they would not relinquish. The thrilling one-handed catch by Miller was his first touchdown reception since 2011.
“It’s one of those things where instincts kind of take over,” Miller told chicagobears.com. “I really didn’t have time to go with two [hands]. He put some juice on it and I had to go get it with one and thankfully pulled it down and made the play when it was needed.”
“It couldn’t have happened to a better guy,” said Cutler. “He gives everything he has at practice and we ask him to do a lot of dirty work and he does it all without complaining, so when he makes a big catch like that, it’s pretty special.”
After Miller’s touchdown, Philip Rivers had just over three minutes remaining to put together his 22nd pro career fourth-quarter comeback. Rivers quickly moved the ball into Chicago territory with a series of mid-range passes, but a pair of sacks by Lamarr Houston – who until this point had only a single sack on the year – and a solid show of passing defense by Tracy Porter quelled the comeback attempt and gave the ball back to Cutler to go through the last-second formalities.
With his second-quarter touchdown pass to Martellus Bennett, Cutler sits alone with the most touchdown passes thrown as a Bears quarterback. His 138th touchdown pass in a Chicago uniform broke the 55-year-old record formerly held by Sid Luckman.
On the more ignominious side, Cutler also closed in on Luckman for the most interceptions thrown as a Bear as he was returned for a touchdown by Chargers cornerback Jason Verrett. This was the second turnover by Cutler in Chargers territory, as he also was stripped for a fumble on the team’s second drive of the game in what was a rough first half for the Bears.
“We were killing ourselves,” Cutler said. “At halftime we talked about sustaining drives, not hurting ourselves, eating up yards and being efficient. We were doing some good stuff out there and we had a pretty good beat on what they were doing, so it was just a matter of us finishing drives.”
Cutler wasn’t the only Bear to suffer under the prime-time lights. Kicker Robbie Gould, in an uncharacteristic bout of wildness, missed two field goals in a game for only the third time in his career. Adding in his miss against Minnesota a week ago, he now has missed three in a row, an unexpected slide for the team’s all-time scoring leader.
“It’s no different than when somebody makes a mistake,” said coach John Fox. “It’s part of football. You strive for perfection and a lot of times you don’t get it. It’s how you rebound. Robbie will be fine. He’s a pro, so we’ll be fine.”
But Chicago ultimately showed the guts and gusto needed to fight through for a tough win on the road. “This win was very big,” said tight end Martellus Bennett. “In a game like that, where we pull it out at the end, it was a huge win.”
The Bears hit the road again this week to face the St. Louis Rams (12 p.m. Sunday, CBS). The Rams come into the matchup with a 4-4 record on the season, hoping to bounce back after a 21-18 overtime loss to the Minnesota Vikings this past Sunday.