Nov 28, 2021
Its special: In a trying season and in the midst of last weeks chaos, QB Andy Dalton dug deep on Thanksgiving to help pull the Chicago Bears through
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During a week of confusion and tumult, reports and rumors, the Chicago Bears needed something to lean on. Anything, really. Burdened by their five-game losing streak and then left to sift through the growing uncertainty regarding coach Matt Nagy’s job security, players and coaches had to push to retain their focus and the concentration of those around them.
Veteran quarterback Andy Dalton was happy to do his part. On Wednesday night, at Nagy’s behest, Dalton spoke to the team at their hotel as a way of helping to recenter the group. A day later, he threw for 317 yards, drilled a 17-yard second-quarter touchdown pass to tight end Jimmy Graham and led an 18-play, game-winning field-goal drive that allowed the Bears to edge the last-place Detroit Lions 16-14 on the final snap at Ford Field.
Dalton’s Thanksgiving eve pep talk?
“I just spoke from the heart,” he said. “It’s what it all boils down to. I just felt like there was something in talking about what we needed in this moment.”
Added receiver Darnell Mooney on Dalton’s message: “Just go out there and get our swag back. Have fun. Just let everything loose. No stressing out, no tension or anything. It’s Thanksgiving for a reason. Give glory to God on Thanksgiving for the opportunity we had.”
To be perfectly clear, this wasn’t Jason Heyward in the weight room during the Game 7 rain delay in Cleveland in 2016. And it’s not as if Dalton’s pep talk sparked some sort of Disney-worthy performance from the Bears or even the quarterback himself.
Against a winless opponent that did just about everything to beat itself, the Bears barely had enough in their tank to survive. Dalton threw a pivotal interception in the end zone in the first half, finished with a passer rating of 85.1 and propelled the offense to only 16 points against a bottom-tier defense.
As a whole, the Bears remain mediocre at best heading into December with little momentum, growing injury issues and an upcoming schedule that likely will add to their mental exhaustion and damage-control efforts.
Yet they at least can take comfort in the idea that the players in the locker room remain united and driven and capable of minimizing any dysfunction. And that might help cushion this season’s crash. Hey, at this point, it’s something, right?
Dalton isn’t necessarily the most energetic or emotional fuel source in the locker room. He also doesn’t fully understand the scar tissue of a Bears fan base that has been perpetually frustrated since the start of 2019 and screaming for an overhaul for much of the last 30 years.
Dalton has been in Chicago since March and had his starting opportunity interrupted by a Week 2 left knee injury. Thursday marked just his third start in a Bears uniform, an emergency opportunity with rookie Justin Fields nursing injured ribs.
It’s possible, depending on Fields’ recovery over the next few days, that Dalton never takes another snap for the Bears. Still, during a time of need, Dalton hoped his voice would carry weight, that his message would be heard and his approach could set an example.
“It’s all about learning your teammates and getting to know them,” Dalton said. “I feel like a lot of people have gotten to know me and what I’ve been about. I’ve been through a lot this year, and I think how I’ve handled things and how I’ve gone about staying true to who I am and who I was created to be allows me to have a voice on this team.”
As important as Dalton’s hotel homily might have been, his contributions to Thursday’s game-winning drive were far more vital in helping push the Bears to safety before another massive wave of criticism could pull them into its undertow. With 6 minutes, 33 seconds remaining, he escaped from a cluttered pocket, adjusted his arm slot and hit Damiere Byrd for 13 yards on a critical third-and-5. Five plays later, he pushed the Bears inside the red zone with an alert 9-yard scramble. His final pass was an on-rhythm 7-yard bullet to Byrd to convert a third-and-4, a clutch completion that not only helped the Bears complete a go-ahead drive but allowed them to kneel down three times in order to drain every second of the remaining time before trying their game-deciding kick.
“What a credit to Andy Dalton,” Nagy said after the game, “for being able to come in here without one live (practice) rep the entire week and do what he did with that group of guys. It wasn’t easy.”
Added Dalton: “To have everything going on this week and everything (swirling) on the outside, for our guys to just play to the very end and get a win on Thanksgiving, it’s special.”
Nagy was effusive with his praise for all his players after the win, referring to them as “special” and a group of “freaking warriors.” He commended their grit and togetherness through a taxing week and appreciated their ability to save him and the organization from the extreme humiliation that would have accompanied a loss to the Lions on a national stage on Thanksgiving.
“I’ll put them up against anybody,” Nagy said. “I love them to death. … They’re not losers. They know how to win, and I appreciate that about them.”
Sure, that’s a bit hyperbolic for a team that has lost 15 of its last 22 games. But with the finish line of this season still a long way off, the Bears will need to activate every survival instinct they have.
Rousing speeches, of course, might seem useful in principle and are Fun Dip for any Bears fan or analyst looking for a temporary sugar high. But as cornerback Jaylon Johnson noted Monday, such sermons often have little correlation with the next game’s results.
“There’s nothing to talk about,” Johnson said. “We aren’t going to beat a dead horse. Like I’ve said, we are all men. Coming in here and saying ‘We have to figure out a way,’ to me it’s BS. … There’s nothing to keep coming in here and talking about. And having all these rah-rah speeches? We’ve had five weeks of rah-rah speeches. I don’t think that talking is anything we need to be doing.”
Added linebacker Roquan Smith: “Honestly, it’s never about the rah-rah speeches. It’s just more so about each and every individual looking themselves in the mirror and just saying ‘Hey, am I going to do my best and I’m going to do my job each and every play and when I’m called on.’ That’s all it boils down to.”
To that end, the Bears did enough Thursday afternoon to steal a win and claw their way out of the week’s mess. After an extended weekend to recharge, they will need to remain focused and willing to stick together. Their pride and concentration will be tested for another six weeks. But with a strong core of leaders and a roster full of hungry players, they will give themselves a better chance of keeping things respectable.
News Source: mercurynews.com
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Sex Assault Victim Comes Forward With Allegation Against Hudson Man 20 Years Later: Prosecutor
A 65-year-old man is accused of sexually assaulting a girl when she was between the ages of 6 and 8, the Hudson County Prosecutor's Office announced.
The now-28-year-old victim was assaulted by Rodrigo Rivera, of Union City, in a Jersey City home, according to Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez.
Rivera was arrested in Hackensack on charges of aggravated sexual assault, and sexual assault. He was remanded to the Hudson County Jail, pending his first court appearance on Feb. 2.
On Thursday, January 27, 2022, members of the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office Special Victims Unit arrested 65, of Union City, on charges that he sexually assaulted a young girl when she was between the ages of 6 and 8. The Prosecutor’s Office has filed a motion for detention.
Suarez credited the Special Victims Unit with the investigation and arrest.
Anyone wishing to report a sex crime should call the Hudson County Prosecutor's Office Special Victims Unit (SVU) at 201-915-1234.