By Michelle Gallardo for ABC7 Chicago – #chicago-il
CHICAGO (WLS) — Sunday football was unlike any other as the Chicago Bears took on the New York Giants for their first home game of the year at Soldier Field.
At first glance, you wouldn’t have known there was a game. The ticket booths were closed and there were no Bear-clad fans making their way into the stadium.
If it wasn’t for the security guards and the big screens announcing Sunday’s game against the Giants you’d think it’s just another day.
Standing outside Soldier Field, you could hear the game being called but with an eerie silence in the background without the sound fans cheering from the stands as the team and the city of Chicago held firm to their decision not to allow fans for the start of the season.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the team reiterated that stance again on Friday ahead of this weekend’s home opener.
“Having a conversation about throwing hundreds of people into a venue like Soldier Field when we are still seeing an uptick in cases is not responsible,” Mayor Lightfoot said. “Now, it doesn’t mean we can’t plan for contingencies, but we’ve got to deal with the reality of where we are, which is in the middle of the fight of our lives with a pandemic.”
While many found alternative ways to support their team, one group of die-hard fans were found just steps away from the stadium.
“It’s a very eerie feeling living in the neighborhood and having no fans around,” said Jenelle Lobato. “I’ve been living in the South Loop for about eight years now. Once of the great reasons isbeing a Bears fan, living in the South Loop, getting to see all the fans, getting to see everyone in their decor and their fan gear. Then coming here it’s just weird.”
However, that didn’t mean Bears fans weren’t nearby celebrating. In fact, while even the parking lots on Museum Campus remain closed to tailgaters, it didn’t take long to find some nearby at Burnham Harbor’s Boat Drinks bar, right in the shadow of Soldier Field.
“We’re doing it within the restrictions that are given,” said Boat Drinks owner Brian Fogel. “We support them while still getting to enjoy the game with a little bit of camaraderie.”
The setup is Fogel’s brainchild. Not only did he installed a makeshift scoreboard framing out several TV screens, but he also had a BBQ, brats, beer and a few tables for beer pong to make it an instant Bears watch party.
“It’s a wonderful set up. Love it. It’s a great day,” said Bears fan Doug Dawson. “The Bears are doing well, fortunately. The city’s coming back to life.”
“I think this is the coolest place ever,” added fellow fan Jill Gregory. “It’s weird that the stadium’s right there and no one is there, but we’re here. And I love it. It’s on the water. This place is awesome.”
When fans will be allowed back in the stadium remains unclear, although the Bears organization did submit a plan to the city. Sunday, a spokesperson for Soldier Field said, realistically, they simply do not expect it to happen anytime soon. For now, they said they’re just grateful we get to have a football season up and running.
The Chicago Bears came into the season determined to show they’re more like the team that won the NFC North in 2018 than the one that missed the playoffs a year ago.
The Bears won back-to-back games to start the season for the first time in seven years, denying the Giants their first victory under new coach Joe Judge at Soldier Field on Sunday.
Mitchell Trubisky threw two touchdown passes and the Chicago Bears hung on to beat the New York Giants 17-13 on Sunday.
The Bears (2-0) grabbed a 17-0 halftime lead and withstood a big push a week after rallying from 17 down at Detroit for their first season-opening win in seven years.
The Giants (0-2) refused to go quietly even though they lost star running back Saquon Barkley to a right knee injury on the opening play of the second quarter.
New York’s Dion Lewis made it a seven-point game when he plowed in from the 1 in the opening minute of the fourth.
James Bradbury then intercepted Trubisky when he ripped the ball out of Allen Robinson’s hands, leading to a 37-yard field goal by Graham Gano that cut it to 17-13 with 7:43 remaining.
The Bears caught a big break on fourth down at the New York 36 with just under four minutes left. New York’s Blake Martinez deflected a pass intended for Jimmy Graham, and the ball ricocheted to tackle Bobby Massie for a first down. Cairo Santos missed wide left on a 50-yard field goal attempt, giving New York the ball on the 40 with 2:02 remaining.
The Giants drove to the 10 before Golden Tate got flagged for pushing off against Eddie Jackson near the goal line on an incomplete pass as time expired.
Trubisky completed 18 of 28 passes for 190 yards and was intercepted twice.
He threw a 28-yard touchdown pass to David Montgomery on the game’s opening possession and fired a 15-yarder to Darnell Mooney in the closing seconds of the first half to give the Bears a 17-0 lead.
Montgomery ran for 82 yards. Robert Quinn had a strip sack in the first quarter that led to a field goal in his Bears debut after missing the opener with an ankle injury. Khalil Mack had his first sack of the season and recovered a fumble for Chicago.
Limited to 6 yards on 15 attempts against Pittsburgh on Monday night, Barkley came up clutching his right knee when he was dragged down by Jackson at the end of a run. The 2018 offensive rookie of the year was taken for X-rays after being helped to the sideline and will be examined further on Monday.
Daniel Jones threw for 241 yards and an interception. Giants coach Joe Judge is still looking for his first win.
Giants: WR Sterling Shepard left with a toe injury.
Bears: Montgomery hurt his neck early in the second quarter when he went airborne over Austin Johnson on a short run and landed head-first. He returned in the second half.
TARIK COHEN EXTENTION
The Bears have also agreed to a three-year contract extension with running back and return specialist Tarik Cohen. The deal announced Sunday guarantees about $9.5 million and could be worth $18.25 million, agent Drew Rosenhaus said.
Drafted by the Bears out of North Carolina A&T in the fourth round in 2017, the speedy and versatile Cohen has been an important contributor on offense and special teams.
He was an All-Pro as a punt returner in 2018, when he returned 33 punts for 411 yards. Cohen also ran for 444 yards that year and led the team in yards receiving with 725. His production dipped last year with 213 yards rushing and 456 receiving.
Chicago rallied from 17 points down behind three fourth-quarter touchdown throws by Mitchell Trubisky and hung on for a 27-23 victory at Detroit last week. The Giants lost 26-16 to Pittsburgh on Monday night.
“To battle back the way we did says a lot about this team and this offense and what we’re capable of,” Trubisky said.
Coming off an 8-8 year, the Bears looked for three quarters like they were headed toward a loss. But they came out on top in a season opener for the first time since a 3-0 start in 2013.
The Giants, with 12 wins since the 2016 playoff season, also have much room to improve. Saquon Barkley got swarmed by the Steelers and was held to 6 yards on 15 carries in one of his worst games since he was drafted with the No. 2 overall pick in 2018. He’ll try to get going against a top 10 defense that got picked apart at times last week.
“We’ve got to do some things to help Saquon throughout the game,” Judge said. “He’s a key part of our team, he’s an integral part of our offense. We’re going to keep feeding him the ball and he’s going to make some plays for us.”