The Chicago Bears improved to 2-1 on the season with a 23-20 victory over the Houston Texans on Sunday, September 25, at Soldier Field.
Bears linebacker Roquan Smith had his best game of the season, finishing with 16 tackles and one interception. Bears coach Matt Eberflus said Smith’s defense played a huge factor in the victory.
“I just think he’s getting comfortable in the defense,” said Eberflus.
“I thought the linebackers played downhill. It’s a big difference between going from 3-4 to 4-3. I’ve had a lot of linebackers, because I switched over when I was in Dallas and switched over when I went to Indy.”
Eberflus continued his thoughts about Smith, “They were 3-4 going to a 4-3 and what happens, it’s different. You play off the defensive linemen in front of you a little bit different. And it’s more of a speed position, more of a downhill, attacking position rather than a lateral slide position. I just think he’s starting to really feel that. He’s starting to feel that downhill speed that he can get and it’s coming along. That’s happened the three places I’ve been before.”
According to the Bears, Smith hauled in the team’s second interception of the day on a 3rd & 1, with 1:13 remaining in the fourth quarter. The interception was Smith’s first of the season, and the sixth of his career.
Smith was also atop the Bears’ leaderboard of tackling for a third straight game, finishing with 16. His 16 total tackles match the second-best total of his career, which he has reached one other time, in a 24-20 win over Detroit on November 28, 2019.
In addition to the interception by Smith, kicker Cairo Santos went 3-for-3 in the afternoon, including knocking home a game-winning field goal as time expired.
Santos’ 30-yard game-winning field goal was the first time the Bears have kicked a field goal to score go-ahead points in the last two minutes of regulation since the Bears’ Thanksgiving victory at Detroit during Week 12 of the 2021 season.
The last time the Bears won in regulation by scoring go-ahead points was during the Bears Christmas Day victory over the Seahawks in Week 16 of the 2021 season.
Santos also converted a 50-yard field goal with 1:53 to go in the second quarter to bring the score to 14-13. Santos has made 168 career field goals throughout the course of his career, including 11 from 50 plus yards or more.
With Santos’ game winning field goal, running back Khalil Herbert rushed for 157 yards on 20 carries (7.9 avg.). That stands as the seventh-highest rushing yardage total in a single game in Bears franchise history, surpassing Jordan Howard’s 153-yard performance on October 31, 2016, against the Saints.
Herbert had a 52-yard carry with 11:15 to go in the third quarter. It was the longest rush of his career and the longest by a Bears running back since David Montgomery broke free for 57 yards at Green Bay on November 29, 2020.
Herbert found the end zone twice on Sunday, scoring from 11 yards out and one yard out, respectively. Herbert owns five career rushing touchdowns. Sunday marks his first-career game with 2 plus rushing touchdowns and he’s the first running back to log 2 plus touchdowns since David Montgomery on January 2, 2022, vs. the New York Giants.
With the win, the Bears improve to 2-0 at home for the second straight season and the third time since 2018.
Joseph Phillips is the Sports Editor for the Chicago Crusader Newspaper. He is a Chicago native, who has been a sports writer for over 17 years. He also hosts the SC Media News and Sports Network Q&A radio show on WHPK 88.5 FM Chicago.