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Eicher Motors shares rise 3% to 52-week high on strong first-quarter numbers

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Eicher Motors Shares Rise 3% To 52-Week High On Strong First-Quarter Numbers
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Operating income reached Rs 3,397 crore during the April-June period.

New Delhi:

Shares of Eicher Motors jumped more than 3% to a 52-week high in morning trade on Thursday after the company posted strong profits for the quarter ended June 30.

On BSE, the stock opened strongly at Rs 3,249 and gained ground to touch its 52-week high of Rs 3,260.85, registering a rise of 3.36% from its price. previous closing.

On the NSE, the stock opened at Rs 3,256.00 and then climbed to Rs 3,219.00, up 2.04% from its last close.

Eicher Motors on Wednesday announced a doubling of its consolidated net profit to Rs 611 crore for the first quarter ended June 30, thanks to robust sales in international markets.

The company had posted a net profit of Rs 237 crore in the June quarter last financial year.

Operating revenue rose to Rs 3,397 crore in the April-June period from Rs 1,974 crore a year ago, Eicher Motors said in a regulatory filing.

“Our international volumes continued to show steady growth with an increase of more than 60% over the previous year. We achieved the highest quarterly revenue and EBITDA ever thanks to record international sales volumes,” noted Eicher Managing Director Siddhartha Lal.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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Mike Preston: Ravens QB Lamar Jackson is an MVP candidate, but the jury is out if that’ll be enough | COMMENTARY

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Mike Preston: Ravens Qb Lamar Jackson Is An Mvp Candidate, But The Jury Is Out If That’ll Be Enough | Commentary
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We’ve seen this movie before.

Quarterback Lamar Jackson is the star attraction, just as he was Sunday by throwing four touchdowns and running for another in the Ravens’ 37-26 win against the New England Patriots. He electrified the crowd with his running ability (107 yards on 11 carries) and rifled enough passes into tight coverage to finish with a quarterback rating of 110.3 and 218 yards.

But when the Ravens get into the postseason, which they watched from home last year, they bomb. It has become the usual ending. Since Jackson has been in Baltimore, the Ravens are 1-3 in the playoffs only and have advanced to the divisional round once.

Jackson might be on course for another NFL Most Valuable Player award to pair with the one he won in 2019, but sometimes it appears this movie is going to have a similar result.

The Ravens have played only three games and there are still a lot of things that can happen. But what they don’t have anymore is a respectable defense. They have allowed nearly 400 yards in each of their first three games. And we all remember the fourth-quarter meltdown in a 42-38 loss to Miami in Week 2′s home opener.

“We’re not there yet but we’re on our way, and I feel like that’s something that we’re working hard on to improve, but in this particular game, I think the thing was guys stepping up and making plays,” said Ravens coach John Harbaugh, whose team forced multiple turnovers in the fourth quarter Sunday to salvage what felt like another potential disaster.

Jackson can make you forget about this bad defense. Some of his runs Sunday were incredible, and there are times he embarrasses defensive players one-on-one in the open field. Maybe the most surprising aspect of his game is his strength; tacklers have a hard time bringing him down, even when they are draped all over him.

But he is the only truly great player on the roster. No one else keeps opposing coaches up at night.

That worries me.

This is a franchise known for defensive greatness and Hall of Famers such middle linebacker Ray Lewis, safety Ed Reed and cornerback Rod Woodson. Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs is knocking on the door in Canton, Ohio, too.

There is no one close to that stature on this 2022 defense. There are no rugged, game-changing players who can take over a game. The Ravens’ cornerbacks still have problems in coverage and the linebacking corps is equally as bad because they can’t get off blocks or put consistent pressure on the quarterback.

On Sunday, Patriots quarterback Mac Jones completed 22 of 32 passes for 321 yards despite finishing with a rating of 62.1.

That doesn’t make you feel warm and fuzzy about this defense.

There were some good signs Sunday, though. A banged-up offensive line got in sync in the second half and the group should improve once and if Pro Bowl left tackle Ronnie Stanley decides to return from an ankle injury.

Fourth-year player Justice Hill started to emerge somewhat as a running back and starter J.K. Dobbins was back on the field after recovering from a preseason knee injury that forced him out of the 2021 season.

I like receiver Devin Duvernay’s speed and the occasional big play by fellow receiver Rashod Bateman. And of course, there is tight end Mark Andrews.

Jackson can carry this team with his legs, but not necessarily with his arm. You saw some of that Sunday with the sloppy second quarter and the poor mechanics as his passes started falling short or sailing over the head of his receivers.

But the Ravens seemed confident after Sunday. Gillette Stadium is a tough place to win, especially with all the tradition here and six Super Bowl trophies.

But the Ravens have a lot to overcome — more than usual. We’ve seen this before. I used to watch Ray Lewis walk off the field after playoff disappointment after playoff disappointment because the Ravens could never find a top quarterback.

Maybe they can change the ending in 2022.

“Just focus, determination,” Jackson said. “I feel like we build more off adversity, and we play better off adversity. We’ve just got to keep going though because we have a long season ahead of us.”

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Za’Darius Smith, Vikings defense step up when needed to get past Lions

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Za’darius Smith, Vikings Defense Step Up When Needed To Get Past Lions
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With two minutes left in Sunday’s game at U.S. Bank Stadium, Vikings edge rusher Za’Darius Smith was down on the turf with an injury and his team was potentially in trouble.

The Vikings trailed Detroit 24-21 with timeouts remaining. The Lions needed one first down to end the game.

Smith finally got up after suffering what he later said was a lower-body injury. And he insisted on staying in for what would be a 28-24 victory.

“I went down for a second, but I couldn’t come out of the game,” Smith said. “I had to stay in there because it was a big situation. Two-minute situation, and they needed me the most. … My adrenaline was pumping.”

With the Lions facing third-and-14 at the Minnesota 46, they ran the ball and Jamaal Williams gained 10 yards to the 36. Surprisingly, on fourth-and-4, they elected to try a 54-yard field goal rather than go for a first down.

Austin Seibert missed the field-goal attempt, setting the stage for Kirk Cousins’ 28-yard go-ahead touchdown pass to K.J. Osborn with 45 seconds remaining. Then Smith returned to the field to help stop a last-ditch Detroit drive.

“It was great,” Smith said. “Just to know that my brothers are behind me. I’m just glad we won the game.”

Smith was hopeful that his injury wasn’t serious and went to get it checked out. Head coach Kevin O’Connell said Smith gutting it out at the end typified the play of Minnesota’s defense.

“He’s going to give it everything he’s got,” O’Connell said. “So we got tough guys. We got guys that love playing for one another.”

The Vikings gave up 416 yards of total offense, with Jared Goff throwing for 277 yards and Williams running for 87. But the defense made the plays down the stretch when needed.

Trailing 24-21, the Vikings stopped Williams for no gain on fourth-and-1 at the Minnesota 30 with 3:30 left in the game. And then they stopped two more Detroit drives.

“It’s wasn’t pretty at first, but we came together,” edge rusher Danielle Hunter said. “We knew what we had to do. We knew what plays we were going to have to make at the end of the game, and we came together and we pulled through.”

For most of the game, the Vikings’ defense was frustrated. En route to a 14-0 lead in the second quarter, the Lions converted all three of their fourth-down attempts on the drives for their first two touchdowns. The big one on their first drive was Goff completing a 30-yard pass on fourth-and-5 to Amon-Ra St. Brown to the Minnesota 2.

For the game, the Lions were 4 of 6 on fourth-down conversions. Afterward, Lions coach Dan Campbell said he “should have” gone for it on the fourth-down play before Seibert’s missed field goal.

“Honestly, they kept going for it on fourth down,” linebacker Eric Kendricks said. “I didn’t know whether it was third down or fourth down. We were just out there grinding.”

The Vikings persevered despite playing without star safety Harrison Smith, who was out with a concussion and replaced by Josh Metellus. Goff took advantage of Smith’s absence at times, but his final pass of the game, a desperation heave from the 50, was intercepted by Metellus at the Vikings 5 with 9 seconds left.

“I had to make a play, and I did,” Metellus said.

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Chris Perkins: Dolphins’ defense making winning plays, having fun and keeping big picture in mind

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After all the Miami Dolphins’ defensive excitement of the day — stopping the Buffalo Bills at the Dolphins’ 2-yard line with 2:36 remaining while clinging to a 21-17 lead, stopping the Bills again in the fourth quarter, this time while clinging to a 21-19 lead in the final 1:25, and getting a strip-sack that led to a Dolphins touchdown that tied the game at 7 — veteran defensive tackle John Jenkins hoped one message came through loud and clear after the Dolphins’ emotional 21-19 victory over Buffalo.

“I feel like we’re having fun,” he said. “I hope everybody can see that.”

We can see that. We can also see this defense is good, really good.

But they’re nowhere close to making the type of statement they want to make this season.

“We’ve got big goals this year,” defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah said.

Buffalo entered Sunday’s game averaging 36 points. It finished with 17 fewer than its average.

Credit the Dolphins’ game-changing defense.

But Jenkins’ sentiment went deeper when he spoke of the defense having fun. The Dolphins’ defensive fun stems from being effective players, a close-knit unit, and a group that lives in some weird utopian society. He continued.

“I hope everybody can see no man is bigger than the other,” Jenkins said. “Everybody, when their name and number is called, will respond. We’re interchangeable.”

It’s a crazy contention, almost illogical, but through three games Jenkins might be right.

This Dolphins defense is good, it’s deep, and people do their jobs with the utmost professionalism.

Consider the fourth-quarter goal-line stand.

Buffalo (2-1), trailing, 21-17 with 3:14 remaining, had five shots from the Dolphins’ 6-yard line or closer — one from the 6-yard line, three from the 2-yard line, and one from the 1-yard line — and couldn’t punch it in for the go-ahead touchdown.

The Dolphins (3-0) had defenders at all three levels — defensive line, linebacker and secondary — make plays during yet another gutsy goal-line stand (remember Baltimore?).

This Dolphins defense makes plays and has fun, and they don’t care what outsiders think of their performances.

“We weren’t trying to listen to the outside noise,” cornerback Nik Needham said. “They were the big, bad Bills. And putting up a lot of points. We were trying to lock in as a unit. We weren’t worried about them, just worried about ourselves.”

Granted, convincing someone that Needham can make plays just as well as All Pro cornerback Xavien Howard is tough, almost impossible. It stretches the boundaries of NFL reality. But look at the evidence.

While Howard was shadowing Stefon Diggs, Buffalo’s All Pro wide receiver, Needham and his fellow defensive backs (Kader Kohou, Eric Rowe, Keion Crossen, Jevon Holland and Brandon Jones) were holding Buffalo’s other receivers in check, and that’s not easy when strapping quarterback Josh Allen is back there slinging the ball all over the yard.

Buffalo ran an exhausting 90 plays offensively, which means the Dolphins defense was on that hot, humid Hard Rock Stadium field for 90 plays. The time of possession edge was in the Bills’ favor, 40:40 to 19:20.

No worries.

While Allen finished 42 of 63 for 400 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions, the Bills only scored two touchdowns, both coming in the first half. Diggs (seven receptions, 74 yards) was largely kept in check as were his wide receiver buddies Isaiah McKenzie (seven receptions, 76 yards, one touchdown), Gabe Davis (three receptions, 37 yards). Running back Devin Singletary was Buffalo’s leading receiver with seven receptions for 78 yards.

The Dolphins defense punished Allen, recording four sacks and 10 quarterback hits.

And, yeah, Buffalo rushed for 115 yards on 23 carries, averaging 5.0 yards per carry, but the Bills couldn’t punch it in when it counted, in the fourth quarter, which brings us back to Jenkins’ point.

The Dolphins defense makes plays.

In fact, lots of Dolphins defenders make plays.

Linebacker Jerome Baker (13 tackles, half a sack) and safety Holland (10 tackles, 1.5 sacks, two passes defended) led the way statistically. But safety Jones (nine tackles) and linebacker Elandon Roberts (eight tackles) weren’t far behind. And Howard (six tackles), Needham (five tackles), rookie Kohou (five tackles) and linebacker Duke Riley (five tackles) were right behind them.

Linebacker Melvin Ingram had three tackles, two of them sacks. He also had a recovered fumble. Ogbah had four quarterback hits.

This trend of everyone making a contribution has been going on all season whether it’s a turnover, goal-line stand, third-down stop, first-down tackle for a loss, whatever. And it’ll probably keep going.

The defense doesn’t have a big head. They don’t consider themselves a No. 1 defense or anything of that sort.

“You can’t think that,” Needham said. “In the NFL it’s any given Sunday. We’ve got to lock back in.”

They must also keep having fun, and stay focused on the big picture, which isn’t just beating Buffalo.

“It’s big for us,” Ogbah said of the victory, “but we’ve got bigger goals. This is just a stepping stone.”

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Dave Hyde: Hallelujah, Miami Dolphins show in 21-19 win over Bills they’re a contender

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Dave Hyde: Hallelujah, Miami Dolphins Show In 21-19 Win Over Bills They’re A Contender
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“Can I get an, ‘Amen?’ “

Christian Wilkins was preaching late Sunday afternoon, brothers and sisters, but before he talked about this nastiest Miami Dolphins win, before he addressed the grittiest little goal-line stand or the glory of this 3-0 start, he asked something himself.

“Come on, can I get an, ‘Amen!’” the Dolphins defensive tackle asked again.

“Amen!” the assembled media said.

“Thank you,” Wilkins said.

Sunday’s 21-19 win over Buffalo, where the Dolphins practiced what they preached, probably deserves something more, too. Hallelujah? Lord have mercy?

For the first time in years — or decades depending how you frame — the Dolphins won the kind of game in the kind of scheduling stretch that says they belong in the conversation of contenders. That’s it. That’s the hallelujah moment.

They’ve now beaten New England, Baltimore and top-of-the-heap Buffalo in their first three games, and that’s as good a line-up as any team has put down thus far. They weren’t electric Sunday. They were just good enough against their most important measuring stick right now.

Buffalo had drives longer than some television mini-series. Fourteen plays. Twenty plays. And then the most important of all, a 17-play series late in the fourth quarter, where they had first-and-goal at the Miami 2-yard line and trailing 21-17.

“We made four plays,”’ Wilkins said.

Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen then got the ball again with 1:33 left and just needing a field goal thanks to a Dolphins punt that ricocheted off a Dolphins player into a safety. Most teams don’t survive Allen getting two cracks like that. Defensive coordinator Josh Boyer’s defense did.

“It was exhilarating, man,” safety Jevon Holland said.

So something has changed. This defense has grown up from the team that got dragged around the field at the end of last season in Tennessee. This team has changed, too, after losing seven straight games to Buffalo.

“It was special for everyone involved in that regard, as special as a Week 3 regular-season game can be,” first-year coach Mike McDaniel said. “I will say that much, but we know that we’re going to see them again. If they at all took us lightly at all, I promise you they won’t again, so we’re going to get their best shot. That’s a really, really, really good football team.”

Don’t kid yourself. Buffalo put up winning numbers Sunday: 90 plays to the Dolphins’ 39 plays; 497 total yards to the Dolphins’ 212 yards; 40 minutes and 40 seconds time of possession to the Dolphins’ 19:20. You’d take those numbers every Sunday and win most every game.

The Dolphins won Sunday. They made just enough big plays to take the day. Holland blitzing Allen into a fumble and Melvin Ingram recovering at the Buffalo 6-yard line to set up a touchdown? Tua Tagovailoa returning from injury for a 45-yard throw to Jaylen Waddle on third-and-22 to set up another touchdown?

“I was wishing and hoping I was open,” Waddle said.

Players were dropping especially on the Buffalo side, mostly from the heat. Buffalo lost 13 players from the start of the game, reinforcing that a Dolphins home game in September is the biggest home-field advantage in sports. Buffalo already had their entire secondary out with injuries, too.

The Dolphins lost players, too, and the day turned nasty as it went on. Allen was flagged for a personal foul late in the game. What happened?

“Just football stuff,” he said.

That was the entire day. Just football stuff. Allen is a beast, passing for 400 yards, running for 46 more and getting two chances in the final minutes to win the game — and not winning. There’s little doubt he’ll be waiting at the end of October when the Dolphins go to Orchard Park. And that’s good. It means this rivalry can mean something again.

“This is one game,” Allen said. “We’ll learn from this one tomorrow, take it on the chin and again prepare for next week.”

The Dolphins will learn, too. They’re believers. But then most Dolphins teams have been believers over the last couple of decades until results show them otherwise. This start suggests something different is happening.

They beat heavyweight Buffalo.

“A good win,” Tagovailoa said.

They’re 3-0.

“Three-and-oh is not our goal,” Wilkins said.

They’re first place in the AFC East.

“You don’t want to do yourself a disservice and fall short of your potential,” McDaniel said.

Yes, it’s September and there’s a long way to go. But when’s the last time you could say the Dolphins had to be mentioned among the contenders for anything but the No. 1 pick in the draft? When’s the last year you looked ahead at the good possibilities?

Can I get an, “Amen?”

“AMEN!”

Thank you.

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NFLPA investigating Dolphins’ handling of Tagovailoa’s return vs. Bills; Tua says it was back injury

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Nflpa Investigating Dolphins’ Handling Of Tagovailoa’s Return Vs. Bills; Tua Says It Was Back Injury
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Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa momentarily left the team’s 21-19 win over the Buffalo Bills late in the first half on Sunday before returning for the second half, and now the NFL Players Association is reportedly investigating if the team properly handled a concussion check.

The NFLPA initiated the investigation shortly after the Dolphins’ thriller against the Bills at Hard Rock Stadium went final, according to NFL Network.

The Dolphins declined to comment, but Tagovailoa and coach Mike McDaniel, after the game, said it was actually a back injury that caused the third-year signal-caller to miss the end of the first half. The team initially called it a head injury.

Tagovailoa was pushed by Bills linebacker Matt Milano after a pass he completed on the final play before the first half’s two-minute warning. Milano was flagged for roughing the passer.

The back of Tagovailoa’s head banged against the ground in a whiplash effect. Appearing woozy after getting up, Tagovailoa was walked off the field and into the locker room, under his own power, with trainers alongside him.

“I’m feeling good,” Tagovaila said. “Feels a lot better after a win.”

Tagovailoa said he got his legs stuck under someone on an earlier quarterback sneak and, amid the pushing, he felt his back was hyperextended. He said he stumbled after the Milano hit because his back locked up on him as he was getting up.

Said McDaniel: “When he hit his head on the ground, I assumed it was a head injury, but his legs got wobbly because his lower back was completely loose and, as he described it, he said his lower back was like Gumby or something.”

Tagovailoa added he did have to pass concussion protocol before he came out to the field for the second half. Backup quarterback Teddy Bridgewater entered for Miami’s starting signal-caller to finish off the final series of the first half.

Tagovailoa’s best throw in his return was a 45-yard connection to Jaylen Waddle deep over the middle on third-and-22 that led to the go-ahead Chase Edmonds touchdown run.

“They ran quarters coverage, and they played really deep, so I tried to hold the field safety to Tyreek’s side,” said Tagovailoa, who finished 13 of 18 for 186 yards and a touchdown pass to River Cracraft, “and then I came back to Waddle, trusting that Waddle would beat his guys, which he did.

“It was uncomfortable going in. I guess you could say it was the adrenaline that was keeping me going with the throwing.”

Added McDaniel: “That’s a big play that I think Tua will always remember, that a lot of his teammates will because he was battling through, and that’s really hard.”

It’s the third consecutive time Tagovailoa has gotten hurt in a game against the Bills. In last year’s Week 2 meeting in Miami Gardens, an A.J. Epenesa hit sidelined Tagovailoa with fractured ribs and put him on short-term injured reserve to miss the ensuing three weeks. In the 2021 Oct. 31 game in Orchard Park, Tagovailoa finished the game but came away with a finger injury on his throwing hand that cost him the next one and a half games.

Tagovailoa’s availability will be a hot topic throughout the short week before a Thursday night game at the Cincinnati Bengals.

Armstead, Howard play

The Dolphins had left tackle Terron Armstead and cornerback Xavien Howard, who have six Pro Bowls between them, start in Sunday’s game after both entered questionable.

Meanwhile, the already-ailing Bills added safety Jordan Poyer to their inactives. Buffalo’s entire starting secondary of Poyer, fellow Pro Bowl safety Micah Hyde and cornerbacks Tre’Davious White (reserve/PUP) and Dane Jackson were out against the Dolphins.

The Bills had rookie cornerbacks Christian Benford and Kaiir Elam and backup safeties Jaquan Johnson and Damar Hamlin start.

Armstead played and made it through Sunday, holding up against All-Pro Bills edge rusher Von Miller despite missing the week of practice nursing a toe injury.

Howard, who was limited with a groin injury at Thursday and Friday practices after missing Wednesday’s session, largely drew the assignment of limiting Buffalo star receiver Stefon Diggs. Howard had six tackles and two pass deflections. Diggs finished with seven receptions for 74 yards.

Wide receiver Cedrick Wilson Jr. (ribs) was available for Miami after going in questionable, but he didn’t record a catch. The other Dolphin that entered questionable, defensive tackle Raekwon Davis (knee), was out Sunday. Miami started with a three-man defensive front that included Christian Wilkins, Zach Sieler and Emmanuel Ogbah. Cornerback Kader Kohou also got a start along with Nik Needham in the nickel formation.

Miami already had tight ends Hunter Long (ankle) and Cethan Carter (concussion protocol) listed as out entering Sunday.

Other Dolphins inactives were running back Myles Gaskin, quarterback Skylar Thompson and wide receiver Erik Ezukanma. The rookie signal-caller and wideout are healthy scratches for the third time in three weeks.

The Bils also had defensive tackles Ed Oliver and Jordan Phillips and center Mitch Morse among inactives. Wide receiver Gabe Davis and tight end Dawson Knox, who entered questionable, played.

Little injured; players deal with heat

Greg Little, who has been playing right tackle for the injured Austin Jackson, twice made exits with a finger injury but returned both times.

Little first came off the field late in the first half, and Larnel Coleman entered for him at right tackle. Little tried to return early in the second half, but quickly exited again. That time, right guard Robert Hunt slid out to right tackle, with Robert Jones inserted at guard until Little went back in again.

A number of players were affected by the South Florida heat and humidity, especially in the second half, as the official game-day weather was 89 degrees with 63 percent humidity.

Howard was seen running into the locker room in the third quarter, dealing with cramps. Diggs, Bills tight end Dawson Knox and wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie were also dealing with heat issues in the second half.

Buffalo right tackle Spencer Brown was out due to heat illness as the Bills were already dealing with Morse, their starting center, out. His backup, Greg Van Roten, exited at one point, and right guard Ryan Bates left to be evaluated for a head injury in the third quarter.

Dolphins linebacker Elandon Roberts suffered a quadriceps injury. Bills wide receiver Jake Kumerow exited Sunday’s game with an ankle injury.

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With the Chicago Bears passing game malfunctioning, Roquan Smith and the defense take things into their own hands

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With The Chicago Bears Passing Game Malfunctioning, Roquan Smith And The Defense Take Things Into Their Own Hands
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An argument can be made that the most impressive throw by a Chicago Bears player Sunday came with 1 minute, 5 seconds remaining, a 40-yard bomb launched near Soldier Field’s south end zone.

The throw came from a linebacker — why not? — during a stoppage of play immediately after the game’s biggest moment.

With his adrenaline pumping after a clutch interception, Roquan Smith wound up and heaved the football deep into the seats, aware that his Bears were moments away from defeating the Houston Texans 23-20 on a walk-off, chip-shot field goal.

“I tried to stop him,” safety Eddie Jackson said. “That’s a game-winning pick. You’ve got to keep that!”

Smith, though, didn’t need the football as much as he needed an emotional release. So he let it fly.

“To all my supporters,” he said with a big smile. “I threw that to all of them. And (I was) saying ‘F you’ to all that don’t.”

Yes, Chicago, your majorly flawed but still feisty Bears are 2-1, outlasting the winless Texans in such a Bears-like way, with Smith and the defense nudging the struggling offense to the side and offering a “We’ve got this” reprieve in the fourth quarter.

The Bears’ game-winning “drive”: four plays, zero yards.

It was basically a three-snap sideways shuffle to set up Cairo Santos’ game-winning 30-yard kick as time expired. That came thanks to Smith’s interception of Davis Mills and an 18-yard return.

And Smith’s third-down pick came in part because defensive tackle Angelo Blackson did his job up front, getting his right hand on Mills’ pass to Rex Burkhead and allowing Smith to snatch the fluttering ball at the Texans 30.

“If you can’t get to the quarterback, get your hands up,” Blackson said. “It was an opportune time. Just perfect, man.”

Added Smith: If I had had a little more juice in me, I could have cribbed it. But I was just thankful to be able to get it and then let the fans enjoy the ball.”

We could talk until we’re blue in the face about how little meaning Sunday’s victory carries for the Bears’ big-picture aspirations. This was an ordinary home win over a bottom-tier opponent and loaded with troubling sloppiness, particularly as it relates to the feeble passing attack and ongoing struggles of second-year quarterback Justin Fields.

Fields threw two more interceptions and, for the third consecutive game, failed to reach 10 completions or 125 passing yards.

“I played like trash,” Fields said. “I played terrible.”

But on defense the Bears are convinced they are making valuable strides and establishing an identity as a unit capable of seizing big moments and winning games.

Smith’s pick was the Bears’ second takeaway, the other coming in the first half when Jackson snagged a Mills pass to Brandin Cooks in the end zone. That throw was deflected by cornerback Kindle Vildor and corralled by Jackson near the end line.

“It’s just flying around,” Jackson said. “That’s what happens. When you hustle and play with intensity, good things start to happen.”

Just as Smith’s interception set up the Bears for free points, Jackson’s thwarted a prime Texans scoring opportunity on a drive that started inside Bears territory after Fields’ first interception.

Equally significant, after Fields threw his second pick on the first play of the fourth quarter to set up the Texans inside the Bears 40 in a tie game, the defense quickly extinguished that threat.

Defensive tackle Justin Jones came up with an 8-yard sack of Mills on second down. Linebacker Nick Morrow followed by burying Pharaoh Brown for a loss of 5 on a tight end screen on the next snap.

The Texans punted.

“That was a huge moment,” Smith said. “We preach about that, about being able to bow our necks and earn our checks.”

Added Jones: “We’re jelling together right now, becoming one close-knit unit. We’re well on our way to playing in midseason form.”

Smith’s play was nothing short of energizing. After missing practice the entire week with a hip injury, he recorded a game-high 16 tackles, including two for a loss.

“I was focused all week on giving myself a shot to play in this game,” he said. “I still wasn’t all the way there. But, hey, halfway (there) is better than no way.”

Hard to argue.

After Smith’s play in a 27-10 Week 2 loss to the Green Bay Packers was justifiably scrutinized — even he acknowledged it was subpar — the veteran linebacker arose Sunday and spearheaded a strong defensive effort.

Late in the third quarter, on third-and-1 from the Bears 2, Smith shot into the Texans backfield to bury running back Dameon Pierce for a 3-yard loss. That was a pivotal stop. The Texans settled for a tying field goal instead of surging ahead.

Naturally, as Smith works toward earning his next contract and regroups after his tension-filled training camp “hold-in,” all of his contributions this season will be assessed in part with an eye on how they might affect his future and his bid to be paid as one of the league’s best defenders.

Sunday’s game-winning interception was the kind of game-changing contribution many want to see more consistently as Smith tries to establish himself as an elite linebacker.

“I just try to play the best ball that I can play,” Smith said. “That’s my goal each and every week. And if I make big plays, I make them. But I’m not going out there wishing for things. I play my game and if good things happen, they happen.”

More importantly, as the Bears continue working through a patience-testing troubleshooting process to awaken their passing offense, they are finding other ways to succeed and leaning on areas of strength. On Sunday, that meant a reliance on a bruising running attack led by Khalil Herbert, who stepped up in a big way after David Montgomery left the game with a right knee/ankle injury.

Herbert turned 20 carries into 157 yards and two touchdowns. Overall, the Bears churned out 281 rushing yards, their highest single-game total since 1984.

Then late in the game, the Bears again turned to their defense, relying on the unit’s best player to come through in a major way. Smith responded with that pick and his celebratory bomb into the seats.

“That was pretty sweet,” he said. “I wish I could have thrown it out of the stadium.”

It was an impressive toss nonetheless — and a fitting punctuation on the afternoon.

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