Bears find their identity in dominating win over Redskins

Chicago Bears

The Chicago Bears were struggling through two weeks but looked every bit like the NFC North champs from a year ago on Monday in Washington

Anytime you can add your name to Chicago Bears lore alongside that of Gale Sayers, it was a pretty good night.

Wide receiver Taylor Gabriel had just such a night in Chicago’s 31-15 win over the Washington Redskins on Monday. Gabriel caught three touchdown passes from quarterback Mitchell Trubisky in the second quarter alone, becoming the first Bears player with three scores in a quarter since the legendary Sayers in 1965.

It was the type of performance that came just in time for the struggling Bears. The defending NFC North champs suffered a lackluster 10-3 loss to Green Bay in the opening week of the season and only beat the Denver Broncos last week with the help of a controversial roughing the passer penalty on Broncos lineman Bradley Chubb.

Panic was starting to set in the Windy City, and the play of Trubisky was a big reason why. The Bears third-year quarterback came into Week 3 second-last in the NFL in passer rating. He was completing only 58 percent of his passes and had yet to throw for a touchdown.

On Monday night, though, Trubisky found his comfort zone. His first two touchdowns to Gabriel were on well-designed goalline plays from three and one yards out, respectively. Gabriel’s third touchdown was a sensational catch, as Trubisky scrambled to his right and threw to his receiver down the right sideline. Although initially ruled incomplete, replay showed that Gabriel managed to control the ball and get two feet down for a 36-yard touchdown.

Gabriel is only the third player with three receiving touchdowns in the first half on Monday Night Football, joining Jerry Rice in 1995 and Dwayne Allen in 2016. He later left the game with a concussion, but not before catching six passes for 75 yards. The sixth-year receiver had caught just three touchdowns the previous two seasons combined before Monday.

Gabriel’s third touchdown put the Bears up on the Redskins 28-0 near the end of the half. The Redskins hopes of mounting a comeback were dashed by the suffocating defense played by Chicago that was reminiscent of the type of play they had last season.

The Bears sacked Redskins quarterback Case Keenum four times and got eight hits on him. Khalil Mack, held to one sack through the first two games, had two on Monday. The defense forced five turnovers, picking off Keenum three times and recovering two fumbles on strip-sacks. Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix opened the scoring with an interception return for a touchdown and added another later in the game, while cornerback Kyle Fuller also intercepted Keenum. The Bears defense had only forced one turnover in the first two weeks.

Trubisky finished the game 25/31 for 231 yards and three touchdowns, the first time he’s thrown that many in a game since Week 10 of last season. The Bears improved to 2-1 on the season, with a matchup against NFC North rivals the Minnesota Vikings next Sunday. The Redskins, meanwhile, fell to 0-3 in what’s quickly becoming a lost year in the nation’s capital.

Next: NFL Power Rankings: Saints rise, Chargers slide

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