CHICAGO - The Bengals came up with the finest defensive performance in the Zac Taylor era Sunday and their best in seven years when they allowed the Bears just 206 yards in the 20-17 loss at Soldier Field.
Not since the Johnny Manziel game in 2014 in Cleveland when they stoned the Browns on 107 yards have the numbers been that good for a Bengals defense.
The last time they allowed so few yards and lost was eight years ago in Baltimore by the same score, but in an overtime spawned by A.J. Green's Hail Mary touchdown catch.
The Bears got them with four turnovers in what Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow thinks may be the first time he's thrown three interceptions in a game anywhere. Even then during the postgame he thought it was two because he didn't see the tipped pass caught.
"They counted the last one as an interception?" Burrow asked. "That stinks."
The guy who started against Burrow on Sunday, Andy Dalton, probably could have remembered the last time he threw three. That was the last time a Bengal threw three and Dalton threw four on Dec. 15, 2019 against the Patriots.
"That's just me trying to force the ball, trying to get something going," Burrow said. "You learn a lesson today that when your defense is playing as well as they are you don't have to force the balls you can just kind of let the game come to you."
It was the fourth time under head coach Zac Taylor the Bengals had four turnovers and the first since his first season in 2019. It came a week after they had none.
"Early in the season, you have to learn from this. Don't let the Bears beat you twice," Taylor said. "Learn from these errors. I've talked often about a game I played here in 2018 where you learn similar lessons. It's a low scoring game and you have a bunch of turnovers and they capitalize and they beat you.
"We're going to play a lot of great defenses in this league and we feel like we have a really good offense and a really good defense. And we just have to do a better job playing complementary football and winning those road games."
After six games, Burrow still seeks his first road win.
DEFENSIVE STAND: The Bengals were good enough on defense for the second straight week. They got their first 1.5 sacks from free agent edge Trey Hendrickson, who had a dominating game. For the second straight week they stoned a big time runner on 61 yards. Last week it was Minnesota's Dalvin Cook. Sunday it was David Montgomery, the NFL's second-leading rusher last week. Defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi came up big again with four tackles, one for a loss.
"It's doable. It proves we can do it," Ogunjobi said.
Linebacker Logan Wilson was also all over the yard with a game-high nine tackles and Bears rookie quarterback Justin Fields' first NFL interception.
But Wilson was thinking about the turnover that got away late in the third quarter. With the Bears nursing a 7-3 lead shy of midfield, Hendrickson sacked and stripped Fields and Wilson tried to pick it up and run. But it appeared that Fields, lying on the ground, tipped it away from him and recovered it at the Bears 33. That may have been the game.
"I saw the ball get out and was trying to get the ball, scoop and score and I didn't," Wilson said. "It sucks at the end of the day. That's one I wish I could have had back. Learn from it and move on.
"At the time when I saw the ball there wasn't anyone around it which is usually for us it signifies to scoop and score. Had there been people around it, that's when you want to dive on it. I wouldn't say, obviously you want to score on defense as much as we can. At the end of the day if I was able to get the ball back to our offense that would have been the most important thing."
Check out some of the best action photos of the Bengals Week 2 contest against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field.
ANOTHER CHASE: Ja'Marr Chase did it again Sunday. Burrow hit him in stride for a late 42-yard touchdown pass to go with last week's 50-yarder. He had another catch and finished with 54 yards on the day.
"We just ended up calling a go-play, beat the corner off the line, per usual, got open, Joe threw it up and I went up and got the ball. Simple as that," is how Chase recounted it.
After the Bears secondary got burned in Los Angeles last week for so many big plays, Sunday's big surprise is that there weren't more of those. The Bengals had just two pass play of more than 20 yards and Chase had one of them and slot receiver Tyler Boyd had a 22-yarder. A week after averaging more than nine yards per pass, Burrow was under seven Sunday. Chase said the Bears weren't sagging.
"They were mixing it up, outside, backside, playing a little (Cover) 2 my side, playing a little quarters. They were mixing it up a lot," Chase said. "Corners were trying to press/bail, act like they're jamming and back way off. They were throwing a lot of different stuff at us. It wasn't nothing we couldn't handle. We just didn't make the right decision at the right time.
"We waited too last-minute to take shots. We knew they were sitting the whole game. I was telling Joe. Tee knew. We've got to capitalize on the stuff we see early in the game."