The Chicago Bears game MVP was clear.
During the first half, the Bears offense struggled to move the football. Fans likely said to themselves “here we go again” as they watched the team go down 10-0 in the first quarter. Judging from some of the comments on Twitter, Bears fans were not happy with the performance.
However, the offense turned it around at least somewhat, manging to go into halftime with a 14-13 lead, and set to receive the second-half kickoff. They would tack on two more field goals in the second half to push their total to 20 which was just barely enough to stave off the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20-19.
The reason only 20 points were enough was because of the Bears defense. And the reason the Bears defense was once again outstanding, was the play of Mack.
The defense amazingly pressured Brady on 43.2 percent of his dropbacks, which was his highest rate since 2017, according to ESPN’s Next Gen Stats. Mack personally pressured Brady on 17.6 percent of his 34 pass rushes (for 6 total pressures) and got home twice for 2 sacks.
Mack has unjustifiably taken some heat this season for “not producing enough.” However, more than a casual observer of the game would see how disruptive Mack has been this year and how often he gets pressure on the quarterback, even if not finishing the sack. His impact on the game should be clear and obvious even without the sacks.
However, last night he was rewarded with a couple of doozies, including one that will show up as highlights and GIFs for the foreseeable future.
It came on 1st and 10 with 11:34 left in the third quarter with the Bears clinging to a one-point lead. Mack was lined up opposite rookie Tristan Wirfs, who had been playing really well to start the season. However, Mack gave him a quick reality check and then some.
Mack simply powers around the 6-foot-5, 320 pound Wirfs, and takes Brady down. Wirfs, seemingly feeling guilty about giving up the sack (or worried about facing Tom’s rath back in the huddle) continues to try to block Mack after the sack and the play was blown dead.
Mack, having none of it, casually flip-tosses the 320 pounder with one arm. It was the Mack fans have grown accustomed to seeing during his time in Chicago. And if that version of Mack shows up every week, this Bears defense will go from above average to dominant very quickly.
Consider how good the Bears defense has been without Mack getting home on the quarterback. Now ponder how good it will be with Mack and Quinn regularly taking down the quarterback. Suddenly, the Bears look like legit contenders again.