Bears clinch No. 3 seed with 14-9 win over 49ers
By JOSH DUBOW
AP Pro Football Writer
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) - With a dominant defense behind him, Mitchell Trubisky knows the Chicago Bears' offense doesn't have to do too much to keep winning.
That formula has the Bears heading into the season finale with a chance to earn a first-round playoff bye.
Trubisky threw one TD pass and the Chicago defense used a couple of key late stops to keep San Francisco out of the end zone, leading the Bears to their eighth win in nine games, 14-9 over the 49ers on Sunday.
"For us as an offense, we have to do our part as well," Trubisky said. "Because we're a family and we want to take care of those guys and take a lot of pressure off them and score a lot of points so they don't have to play all-world every single week. That's the standard that they've come to hold themselves to."
Khalil Mack and Co. delivered again. Danny Trevathan made a key interception with San Francisco (4-11) driving in the fourth quarter, and then the defense made one more stop to clinch at least the third seed in the NFC playoffs. The Bears (11-4) can earn a first-round bye with a win in the season finale and a loss by the Rams.
"We've been in this situation so many times and have come up big. It's almost expected of us," cornerback Prince Amukamara said. "Like when we had to go back on the field to help win it for our team. Everyone was poised and no one was shaking. We expected great things to come out of it and we're glad we stood up for our team."
The game turned feisty in the fourth quarter, when San Francisco safety Marcell Harris hit Trubisky after he started sliding on a scramble near the Bears' bench. Trubisky's teammates took exception to what they considered a "dirty" hit and a scuffle ensued with punches being thrown and San Francisco cornerback Richard Sherman and Chicago receivers Joshua Bellamy and Anthony Miller all getting ejected.
"As a leader, you can't let them get your teammate like that, regardless of the circumstances, regardless of what's going down," Sherman said. "I felt like they went over the top, and I responded over the top."
Shortly after the melee, the Bears converted a fourth-and-1 sneak by Trubisky from their own 35 with 4:19 to go. After the 2-minute warning, Chicago appeared ready to ice the game on a third-down completion to Allen Robinson. But instead of going down to allow the Bears to run out the clock, Robinson kept running and had the ball knocked out of his hands by Tarvarius Moore.
Greg Mabin recovered at the San Francisco 24 with 1:52 to play, but the Niners were unable to convert when Nick Mullens threw a deep incompletion to Marquise Goodwin on fourth-and-4 from the Chicago 45 instead of scrambling for the first down.
"I've just got to handle the situation better," Mullens said. "I should have ran. I didn't run. In the heat of battle, a lot of things are happening fast, split-second decisions. Saw 'Quise down the field. Tried to give him a chance, instead of making the simple play. I didn't make the simple play."
The Bears struggled to do much offensively all game but managed a TD drive on their final possession of the second quarter and first of the third quarter.
Trubisky capped the first with a 4-yard pass to Miller and then completed all seven passes on a 90-yard drive that took 7:43 and ended when Howard scored on a 2-yard run that made it 14-9. He finished 25 of 29 for 246 yards, with his 86.2 completion percentage the best mark for the franchise since at least 1950 with a minimum of 16 attempts.
"We figured out we had to dink and dunk a little bit," Trubisky said. "They played more zone shell than they had played all year. That's fine. We just had to make that adjustment and make them tackle in space."
GOOD AS GOULD
Former Bears kicker Robbie Gould kicked three field goals in the first half against his former team after making all five in a 15-14 win at Chicago last year. Gould was cut by the Bears before the 2016 season. Cody Parkey missed a 37-yard field goal for Chicago in the first quarter.
TAKE IT AWAY
The 49ers finally got a takeaway. Trubisky threw a lateral to Tarik Cohen in the second quarter that ended up in a fumble recovery by DeForest Buckner. The Niners had gone a record six full games and 399 defensive plays without a takeaway since last recording one Oct. 28 at Arizona. San Francisco added the second fumble recovery and has just seven takeaways on the year, on pace for its fewest in a season.
Bears: Robinson left the game after making a diving 43-yard catch in the first quarter before returning.
49ers: RB Matt Breida (ankle), WR Dante Pettis (left knee) and TE Garrett Celek (concussion) all left the game with injuries in the first half and didn't return. CB K'Waun Williams left in the second half with a knee injury.
Bears: Visit Minnesota on Sunday.
49ers: Visit the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday.
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