LANDOVER, Md. — A terrible half is nothing new to Ron Rivera’s Washington Commanders, just in recent weeks. But against the Chicago Bears, a club that hadn’t won a game in nearly a year? And in front of a national primetime audience, to boot?
That was too much for some of the home fans to take Thursday night, apparently, and so it came, appropriately, with a soundtrack of boos. In the fourth quarter, a chant of the team’s old nickname – “Let’s go, Redskins!” – broke out.
Their defense – supposedly a strength under head coach Rivera, a former Chicago linebacker, and coordinator Jack Del Rio – was unable to do a thing to slow, let alone stop, Justin Fields and DJ Moore, and the Commanders fell into a 24-point halftime hole along the way to dropping their third game in a row, 40-20 to the Bears.
This followed a 34-31 overtime loss at the Philadelphia Eagles, seen by some as a positive step forward, and a 37-3 loss against the visiting Buffalo Bills after trailing 16-0 at the break the game before, meaning Washington has gone from 2-0 to 2-3 quite quickly.
Washington has allowed at least 33 points in each of its last four games.
How lopsided was this one at the get-go? In the first quarter alone, Chicago produced three plays longer than any they’d had all season: throws of 58 and 39 yards from Fields to Moore, and a 34-yard run by Khalil Herbert. Washington, in contrast, had two three-and-outs in that period.
Fields also connected with Moore for a 56-yard TD toss in the fourth quarter, sending spectators to the exits.
And how did Washington’s offense do? By the time Sam Howell led the hosts to their initial first down, nearly 2 1/2 minutes into the second quarter, Chicago (1-4) was already ahead 17-0.
At halftime, the tally was 27-3, and the Bears had outgained the Commanders 307-84 in total yards.
As the two-minute warning approached in the second quarter, a message reading “Make some noise” on the scoreboard went mostly unheeded.
Soon after, a chant of “Let’s go, Bears!” could be heard. And as the Commanders headed to the locker room for the half, full-throated boos came from the stands, along with some middle fingers and thumb’s-down gestures.
By game’s end, Fields was 15 for 29 for 282 yards and four TD passes, while Moore had eight catches for 230 yards with three scores. Howell, meanwhile, had two touchdown passes and one interception, while getting sacked five times to raise his total this season to a league-high 29.
Washington finally showed a hint of competence by opening the third quarter with a five-play, 75-yard touchdown drive capped by Howell’s 2-yard throw to tight end Logan Thomas. Howell ran in the 2-point conversion to get within 27-11.
Afterward, the Commanders forced the Bears to punt for the first time all evening. A comeback in the works? Not out of the question, especially given that Chicago blew a 21-point lead in what became a 31-28 loss to the Denver Broncos on Sunday, the 14th defeat in a row under coach Matt Eberflus.
But Washington’s ensuing possession ended on a fumble by Thomas. The next one closed with a 32-yard field goal by Joey Slye to make it 27-14 – and even that drew jeers, likely because fans would have preferred to see the man known as “Riverboat Ron” risk it on fourth-and-2 from Chicago’s 13.
Later, with a chance to cut the deficit to seven with under 5 1/2 minutes left, Slye missed a 46-yard attempt.