The Bears went for it.
With 7:50 remaining in the game and the Bears leading by four points, Marc Trestman gambled on 4th and inches. He gambled on his offensive line. He gambled on his All-Pro tailback. He gambled that his offense – the best unit of his football team – would have a better chance to finish off the rival Green Bay Packers than his leaky defense and inconsistent specials. He called timeout. He took a breath. Then he gambled.
Grantland’s Bill Barnwell subsequently Tweeted:
Think teams in that situation — fourth-and-short, their side of the field, fourth quarter, narrow lead — have GFI twice in 14 years.
The drive that followed was a thing of beauty; a masterwork that belongs beside Hopper’s Nighthawks at the Art of Institute of Chicago. 18 plays. 80 yards. 8:58 stripped from the fading clock. 3 points to ensure Seneca Wallace needed to put the ball in the end zone to send the contest to overtime. A masterwork. But none of it happens without the gamble; without the guts.
Step One: Roberto Garza is being asked to pull to the outside and secure the edge. (In this case that will involve sealing off Morgan Burnett.) This is an incredibly bold call for the situation and Jon Gruden did a brilliant job pointing that out.
Step Two: Tony Fiammetta, it would seem, is responsible to cover for the pulling Garza. It would be expected for a linebacker to crash the A gap on fourth-and-inches and A.J. Hawk does just that. Fiammetta, again it would seem, is responsible for preventing that linebacker from blowing the play up.
Note: I write the words “it would seem” because none of us truly know the assignment here and I won’t pretend to understand the complexities of Marc Trestman’s offense.
Step Three: Fiammetta is late to make the block and Hawk almost blows the play up in the backfield. Forte delivers a text book stiff arm to shake him loose. (Fiammetta not giving up on the block also made the tackle difficult for Hawk.)
Step Four: Garza is slow to get outside but gets JUST ENOUGH on Morgan Burnett to provide Forte a gap.
Step Five: First Down!
We’ve discussed for a long time the transition of the Chicago Bears from a defensive to an offensive football team. With this call, with this play, the transition now has a tangible moment of metamorphosis. Because no Bears coach over the last fifty years would have made this call. No Bears coach over the last fifty years would not have trusted his defense to hold a four-point lead over Seneca Wallace.
This Bears coach does. This Bears team should. Take notice.