Akiem Hicks says it’s past time to throw some respect on Bears defense
Danny Trevathan said the Bears made a statement last night with their frighteningly dominant defense, becoming the first team in nearly two full years to keep Sean McVay’s previously soaring Los Angeles Rams out of the end zone.
Akiem Hicks certainly agreed, even if he thinks the Bears have been playing really good defense for some time now.
“Did we play dominant defense, and do we think we should be respected and feared by the rest of the league? Yes,” Hicks said.
After earning their third consecutive prime-time victory over a playoff opponent in a season that began with what still might be the unit’s best half (and ended with arguably the worst) in Green Bay, the Bears demand our respect. And what was different about Sunday wasn’t merely the caliber of opponent; it was the full, four quarter onslaught the Bears’ defense had sought all season.
Ninety-eight yards surrendered in the first half; 116 after intermission. Two Jared Goff interceptions in each half. With an assist from Hicks, an Eddie Goldman safety to open the second half — “we still might have to turn that one in. I don’t know, I was back there,” quipped Hicks — and a Prince Amukamara interception to seal it.
“I think we’ve had, just like you said, those moments where we didn’t finish and still came out on top so many times throughout this season,” said Hicks, likely referring to the Bears’ survival acts vs. the Minnesota Vikings and Seattle Seahawks, both of whom were held out of the end zone and below 100 yards in the first half before losing by one score.
“I think it finally hit home for us and we said, ‘we’ve been playing a great three quarters. Imagine how good our defense would be statistically if we didn’t have the fourth quarter of the games we played this year.’”
The Bears still rank only 27th in the NFL in fourth-quarter points allowed (8.6), but Sunday night marked the first time since Week 3 that they have shut out an opponent in the final 15 minutes (34:12, more accurately) and first time all season that Chicago has kept its adversary out of the end zone.
Perhaps no unit dominated for the Bears like their D-line. Hicks, Goldman, Roy Robertson-Harris and Bilal Nichols combined for two of Chicago’s three sacks and four of seven QB hits. Jonathan Bullard didn’t crack the stat sheet but overpowered All-Pro LT Andrew Whitworth to hurry Goff on his first interception.
“The D-line is always ferocious. Eddie [Goldman] beasting people. Bull [Bullard] beasting people. Our rookie, Bilal [Nichols], doing his thing,” Hicks said. “It’s a great group, and we’re led by a great guy in [D-line coach] Jay Rodgers. I’m a big fan of our D-line.”
The safety notwithstanding, Chicago forced four turnovers, tied with its efforts in Buffalo and Arizona ... against Nathan Peterman and Josh Rosen, respectively. Again, Sunday night’s shutdown of the NFL’s only one-loss team should elicit a far different reaction.
“I thought we had been turning heads,” said Hicks. “Did we just get good? Last year we were a top-10 defense. And we weren’t stopping there. It’s easy to be on the other side and say these things just about how great our defense was. I thought our defense was great in OTAs.”
Of course, last year the Bears went 5-11 overall and 3-5 at home.This season, they’re 9-4 and 6-1, respectively, and as Trevathan said, ” we believe we’re the best defense in the league.”
And they’re making believers out of the rest of us.