Final, Patriots 38-31: The New England Patriots secured their fourth consecutive victory Sunday afternoon, outpacing the Chicago Bears 38-31 in a wild affair at Soldier Field.
Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky completed a Hail Mary to wide receiver Kevin White on the game’s final play, but White was stopped short of the goal line, securing a win for the Patriots.
With tight end Rob Gronkowski sidelined with a back injury and running back Sony Michel leaving with a knee injury early in the second quarter, the Patriots found their offense elsewhere.
Josh Gordon caught four passes on seven targets for 100 yards, James White caught two touchdown passes and Cordarrelle Patterson (kick return) and Kyle Van Noy (blocked punt) both scored special teams touchdowns in the win.
On defense, J.C. Jackson committed three penalties but redeemed himself with an interception. And fellow cornerback Jonathan Jones recorded a highlight-reel pick of his own in the red zone.
Next up for the Patriots: a Monday night matchup with the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field.
Fourth quarter, 4:13, Patriots 38-31: The Bears aren’t dead yet.
Chicago turned Tom Brady’s ricochet interception into seven points, with Mitchell Trubisky finding tight end Trey Burton in the end zone for an 11-yard touchdown. Jonathan Jones, who picked off Trubisky earlier in the quarter, slipped and fell on the play, allowing Burton to get free.
Cordarrelle Patterson did follow up the touchdown with a 38-yard kickoff return, though, giving the Patriots great field position.
Fourth quarter, 6:18, Patriots 38-24: Throwing passes to your fullback can be a dicey proposition for this exact reason.
Tom Brady tried to connect with James Develin on a short pass, but had the ball bounce out of Develin’s hands and into cornerback Kyle Fuller’s for an interception.
Of Brady’s seven picks this season, three have come off dropped passes.
Fourth quarter, 7:47, Patriots 38-24: Adrian Clayborn finally recorded his first sack of the season, bringing down Mitchell Trubisky on third-and-10 to force a Bears three-and-out.
Fourth quarter, 8:40, Patriots 38-24: That could be the dagger right there, folks.
After taking over at their own 4 following Jonathan Jones’ highlight-reel interception, the Patriots drove 96 yards in 3:19 to extend their lead to 14 points.
The key play of the touchdown drive was a 55-yard catch-and-run by Josh Gordon, who appeared to be moving a bit slower than usual, but still managed to rumble his way to Chicago’s 1-yard line.
A six-inch pass to James White two plays later gave the Patriots their fifth touchdown of the game.
Fourth quarter, 13:05, Patriots 31-24: It’s Patriots ball again after an incredible interception by cornerback Jonathan Jones.
Wide receiver Anthony Miller appeared to have a step on Jones inside the Patriots’ 5-yard line, but the speedy slot corner closed the gap and snared the ball with one hand despite having his back to quarterback Mitchell Trubisky.
It was the Patriots’ second interception of the game and their third takeaway.
Third quarter, 1:40, Patriots 31-24: A misfire from Tom Brady to Josh Gordon on third-and-3 resulted in a Patriots punt.
Third quarter, 3:38, Patriots 31-24: Continuing the theme of redemption, J.C. Jackson closed out the latest Bears drive with an interception, ripping a pass away from Josh Bellamy on third-and-10.
Jackson has committed three penalties in this game and was benched earlier in the same drive before returning to the field in New England’s dime package while Eric Rowe received medical attention on the sideline.
Rowe is questionable to return with a groin injury — the same issue that kept him out of three games earlier this season.
Third quarter, 5:53, Patriots 31-24: This has been far from a perfect performance by the Patriots’ special teams units, but New England just scored its second kicking-game touchdown of the afternoon.
After halting a Bears drive that included J.C. Jackson’s third of the game, the Patriots blocked a punt and returned it for a touchdown — the first time they’ve done that since 1996.
Dont’a Hightower bowled over tight end Ben Braunecker to swat down Pat O’Donnell’s punt, and fellow linebacker Kyle Van Noy provided the scoop and score.
Third quarter, 7:48, 24-24: Stephen Gostkowski booted a 29-yard field goal to draw the Patriots even.
The Patriots drove inside the Bears’ 10-yard line — thanks in large part to a facemask penalty on a 14-yard catch by Chris Hogan — but stalled after linebacker Roquan Smith sacked Tom Brady on third-and-1 from the Chicago 7.
Third quarter, 12:04, Bears 24-21: The Patriots’ defense has made Mitchell Trubisky look like the second coming of Michael Vick today.
The Bears quarterback now is up to 81 rushing yards on six carries after ripping off a 39-yarder on the third play of the second half. Trubisky dodged a sack attempt by cornerback Eric Rowe and forced missed tackles by Stephon Gilmore and Elandon Roberts downfield before finally being dragged down by Dont’a Hightower at the 1-yard line.
A penalty on the ensuing play nullified a Jordan Howard touchdown and pushed the Bears back to the 6, but they punched it in three plays later on a short pass to Tarik Cohen.
Third quarter, 15:00, Patriots 21-17: As we begin the second half, an injury update: Patriots running back Sony Michel officially has been ruled out with a knee injury.
Halftime, Patriots 21-17: The Patriots picked up one first down before punting on their final drive of the first half, and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on rookie cornerback Keion Crossen gave the Bears favorable field position.
Chicago completed a few passes downfield but couldn’t find the end zone before time expired in a high-scoring first half.
Second quarter, 1:40, Patriots 21-17: Julian Edelman narrowly avoided disaster after having a Bears punt bounce off his facemask at his own 7-yard line. It would have been the Patriots’ third lost fumble in their own territory, but Edelman was able to pounce on it to maintain possession.
Second quarter, 3:58, Patriots 21-17: Josh Gordon’s incredible athleticism was on full display on the Patriots’ latest drive.
Tom Brady and Gordon hooked up for a 19-yard gain on fourth-and-1, with the wideout skying over cornerback Kyle Fuller to haul in a highlight-reel reception.
After a 6-yard run by Kenjon Barner, an 11-yard pass to Julian Edelman and a direct snap to James White that went nowhere, White shook outside linebacker Leonard Floyd to score an easy 5-yard touchdown off a short pass from Brady. It was the running back’s fifth touchdown catch in seven games this season.
Second quarter, 10:48, Bears 17-14: Well, that’s one way to atone for a fumble.
After coughing up the ball on a kickoff return just a few minutes earlier, Cordarrelle Patterson took his latest kick return back 95 yards for a touchdown, pausing to high-five cornerback J.C. Jackson before sauntering over the goal line.
The Patriots followed up that touchdown by forcing their first three-and-out of the game. They’ll take over at their own 36 after a Pat O’Donnell punt.
Second quarter, 11:05, Bears 17-7: The Bears have turned two Patriots fumbles into 14 points.
Their latest scoring drive featured a successful fourth-down conversion (17 yards to Trey Burton on fourth-and-2) and two illegal use of the hands penalties on rookie cornerback J.C. Jackson, including one on a pass breakup in the end zone.
Jordan Howard plunged into the end zone from 2 yards out two plays later.
Second quarter, 14:51, Bears 10-7: A double dose of bad news for the Patriots: Sony Michel lost a fumble on the second play of New England’s latest drive, and he suffered what appeared to be a serious leg/knee/ankle in the process.
Michel, who missed the entire preseason with a knee injury and has been limited in practice with one, as well, had to be helped off the field and immediately was taken to the sideline medical tent. After just a few minutes, he was carted to the locker room — never a good sign for an injured player.
James White and Kenjon Barner are the only other running backs on the Patriots’ 53-man roster.
First quarter, 0:59, Bears 10-7: A blunder by Cordarrelle Patterson and yet another Mitchell Trubisky scramble allowed the Bears to take their first lead of the afternoon.
Patterson, a former All-Pro kick returner, fumbled on a kickoff, giving the Bears the ball at New England’s 24-yard line. Five plays later, Trubisky scrambled to his right, evaded a sack attempt by Adrian Clayborn, reversed field and followed a caravan of blockers into the end zone for a hard-earned 8-yard touchdown.
The Patriots’ defense has had no answer for Trubisky’s running ability thus far. The young QB has 37 rushing yards on four carries.
First quarter, 3:50, Patriots 7-3: After Mitchell Trubisky’s legs hurt the Patriots, Allen Robinson’s hands helped them.
Trubisky scrambled for 11 yards on second-and-13 and 2 yards on third-and-2 to move the chains, then found a wide-open Trey Burton for 22 yards two plays later to bring the Bears into field-goal range.
Following an incompletion to Josh Bellamy in the end zone and a 3-yard run by Tarik Cohen, Robinson had a pass from Trubisky slip right through his fingers. A catch would have given Chicago a first down inside the Patriots’ 20. Instead, they settled for a field goal.
First quarter, 7:34, Patriots 7-0: Three-and-out for the Patriots after three consecutive passes to Julian Edelman. Edelman caught one for 8 yards, but the other two fell incomplete, with cornerback Kyle Fuller breaking up the third to force the first Patriots punt since Week 5.
Edelman argued his case after the first-down incompletion, but Bill Belichick declined to challenge the ruling.
First quarter, 8:35, Patriots 7-0: Looks like Brian Flores won’t be shy about bringing pressure today against Mitchell Trubisky and the Bears.
The Patriots blitzed Trubisky several times on Chicago’s first possession, with cornerback Jonathan Jones whiffing on a would-be sack. The Bears picked up one first down on a Trubisky scramble but punted four plays later after two deep shots to Allen Robinson fell incomplete and Trey Flowers swatted down a pass on third down.
Robinson was closely covered by Stephon Gilmore, who largely shut down Sammy Watkins last week.
First quarter, 12:00, Patriots 7-0: The Patriots made it look easy on their opening possession, traveling 75 yards in eight plays to open the scoring.
New England averaged 9.4 yards per play against a Chicago defense that’s been one of the best in the NFL this season, gaining 6 or more on all but one (an incompletion forced by an Aaron Lynch pass rush).
Tom Brady capped the drive with a 9-yard screen-pass touchdown to wide receiver Julian Edelman.
Rookie running back Sony Michel continued his strong play, notching an 18-yard run and a 13-yard reception on the first two plays of the game. He later rushed for 6 yards to pick up a first down on second-and-4.
Wideout Chris Hogan appeared to suffer a lower leg injury when Khalil Mack fell on him during Edelman’s touchdown, but he was seen riding a stationary bike on the sideline after receiving medical attention.
First quarter, 15:00, 0-0: The Bears won the opening coin toss and chose to defer. The Patriots’ offense will take the field first on this beautiful October Sunday in Chicago.
11:30 a.m.: No surprises on the Patriots’ inactive list:
Edge rusher Khalil Mack and wide receiver Allen Robinson both are active for Chicago.
11:15 a.m.: We now have a good idea of who the Patriots’ final two inactives will be.
Offensive lineman Brian Schwenke and defensive end Keionta Davis are running through a separate pregame warmup with practice squad quarterback Danny Etling and injured rookie linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley, suggesting they will not suit up this afternoon.
Schwenke had gotten the nod over Ted Karras in the previous three games, but it looks like Karras, an Illinois native, will draw back into the lineup for this one.
The Patriots already have ruled out tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Jacob Hollister, offensive tackle Marcus Cannon and defensive ends John Simon and Geneo Grissom.
Side note: It was interesting to see Bentley, a 2018 fifth-round draft pick, make the trip to Chicago. He tore his bicep in Week 3 and is not expected to play again this season.
10:30 a.m.: In an unsurprising move, the Patriots officially ruled Rob Gronkowski out this morning. They should have their other banged-up skill players available, though, according to multiple reports:
One of the first Patriots players on the field this morning was Gordon, who could take on an even larger role with Gronkowski out. Gordon was Tom Brady’s favorite target in last week’s win over the Kansas City Chiefs, catching five passes on nine targets for 42 yards.
Some scenes from pregame:
8 a.m. ET: Good morning from chilly Soldier Field in Chicago, where the New England Patriots are preparing to take on the Bears in Week 7 of the NFL season.
The Patriots, who are looking to extend their three-game winning streak, will be extremely shorthanded at the tight end position for this matchup, as Jacob Hollister (hamstring) was ruled out Saturday and Rob Gronkowski (back/ankle) reportedly is not expected to play.
That leaves blocking-focused Dwayne Allen as New England’s only available tight end, which likely will result in an uptick in four-wide receiver and/or two-running back sets.
Offensive tackle Marcus Cannon and defensive ends John Simon and Geneo Grissom also have been ruled out for the Patriots, and six others are listed as questionable: wide receivers Josh Gordon and Julian Edelman, running back Sony Michel, cornerback Eric Rowe, defensive tackle Malcom Brown an defensive end Deatrich Wise.
The status of Chicago’s best defensive player also is uncertain, as star pass rusher Khalil Mack is listed as questionable with an ankle injury. Starting Bears wideout Allen Robinson — quarterback Mitchell Trubisky’s favorite target this season — also is questionable, as is nickel corner Bryce Callahan.
Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. ET, but be sure to check back here throughout the morning for full pregame coverage.
Thumbnail photo via Quinn Harris/USA TODAY Sports Images