Breaking Down Blaine Gabbert’s Back-Breaking 44-Yard TD Run


The Chicago Bears suffered a crushing loss to the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday afternoon. After losing multiple leads throughout the afternoon, the Bears fell in overtime 26-20 on a 71-yard touchdown reception from Torrey Smith.

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Bears’ fans have pointed the finger at many different people- mostly at Robbie Gould who missed a would be game-winning 36-yard field goal as regulation expired. But they had plenty of other issues including Jay Cutler’s pick six, a boatload of injuries to their receivers, and the defense allowing multiple big plays to the Niners offense. In my opinion, one of those plays stood out more than any other.

The Bears took a 20-13 lead with 3:32 to go on Ka’Deem Carey’s 4-yard TD Run, all the defense had to do was prevent a Niners touchdown and the Bears would have been victorious. The Niners faced a third and three from the Bears 44 with under two minutes to go and then it all derailed. Gabbert sliced right through the middle of the defense and scampered 44 yards for the touchdown. It was a rough play by the Bears defense, what went wrong? We break it down second by second (all freeze frames courtesy of Fox Sports)

As the Niners line-up, they’re in a single back shotgun set and have four WRs and the Bears are showing a four man rush with man coverage on the outside.

The Bears do indeed rush four and do a solid job collapsing the pocket. Gabbert has no choice at this point but to step up in the pocket. Torrey Smith, parked at the 41 towards the top of the screen is Gabbert’s first target but to complete that ball, it needs to already be on its way to Smith, by not throwing it immediately, Gabbert now needs to buy some time. At this point, the Bears defense has covered the play well.

Once Gabbert steps up, he makes the decision to run for the first down. He’s able to escape the diving Willie Young and leg past Pernell McPhee. Shea McClellin has gotten blame for being out of position, but it’s his responsibility to cover Shaun Draughn who has come out of the backfield and into the flat. There should be no issues at this point where McClellin is. Jon Anderson is the Bear defender at the 39-yard line. Anderson had shaded Smith to try and take away Gabbert’s top option, but at this point, Anderson needs to key in on Gabbert. Gabbert may get the first down, but there’s no reason he shouldn’t get any further than the 40 or 39-yard line.

Anderson gets a slow start moving towards Gabbert and also takes a poor angle at him. It allows Gabbert to drift right where it now looks like McClellin is getting burned, when it is, in fact, Anderson that should have already made the tackle, or at least forced Gabbert far enough right where he was going to have to gain the first down and slide.

At this point, Gabbert has only reached the 30 and there are still three Bears near him. Anderson (chasing from behind), Kyle Fuller (being blocked), and Adrian Amos (who is in prime position to make the tackle). If Amos keeps his right shoulder in front of Gabbert, at worst, Gabbert is going to have to cut to the left to the outside where Anderson will catch him from behind. It would still have left the Niners first and 10 from the 28 with 1:47 to go and the defense would still have an opportunity to win the game.

But here we see Amos with a terrible angle. Gabbert just takes a banana cut to the left and Amos is left terribly out of position. At this instant, the Bears defense is in terrible trouble.

Gabbert accelerates right past Amos and Anderson can’t catch him from behind and at this point there’s nothing left but watching Gabbert sprint the last fifteen yards to the end zone.

No, of course this isn’t the only reason the Bears lost this game. There are several errors the team made throughout the game, and the fact that the offense put them in position to win 23-20 before the Gould miss shows they still could have won this game and overcome this blunder.

So while this play isn’t the reason the Bears lost, it certainly was soul-crushing after the Carey touchdown less than two minutes earlier. I’m a big Vic Fangio fan and I think he’s done wonders with this defense, but on a play like this, it just shows that the Bears are vastly improved but still a work in progress and you can point to plays like this when they most likely miss the playoffs in four weeks.

Next: Robbie Gould Still Good as Gold After Key Miss vs 49ers