Magic Johnson chides his Commanders for 'no intensity' in a 40-20 loss to previously winless Chicago

Full Screen
1 / 7

Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Chicago Bears head coach Matt Eberflus, left, and Washington Commanders head coach Ron Rivera, right, embrace on the field at the end of an NFL football game, Thursday, Oct. 5, 2023, in Landover, Md. Chicago won 40-20. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

LANDOVER, Md. – Washington Commanders part-owner Magic Johnson criticized coach Ron Rivera's team for playing with “no intensity or fire" in a 40-20 loss Thursday night to the Chicago Bears, a club that hadn’t won a game in nearly a full year.

The latest poor showing for the Commanders, in front of a national primetime audience, to boot, also was too much for some of the home fans to take, apparently, and so it came, appropriately, with a soundtrack of boos. In the fourth quarter, a chant of the team's old nickname — “Let's go, Redskins!” — broke out.

Recommended Videos

Their defense — supposedly a strength under Rivera, a former Chicago linebacker, and coordinator Jack Del Rio — was unable to do a thing to slow, let alone stop, Justin Fields and DJ Moore, and the Commanders (2-3) fell into a 24-point halftime hole along the way to dropping their third game in a row.

“It starts at the top,” Rivera said. “That's on me.”

Johnson, part of the new ownership group that took over the club from Dan Snyder, wrote on social media after the game that Washington “played with no intensity or fire” and “didn’t compete in the first half.”

Asked about those comments, Commanders receiver Terry McLaurin called it “a pretty fair assessment.”

“It doesn’t matter what your intentions are. It’s what you put out there on the field. I know we don’t have a lazy bunch. I know we don’t have a non-intense group of guys,” McLaurin said. “That showing is not reflective of us, but that’s who we are — we put that on tape.”

This followed a 34-31 overtime loss at the Philadelphia Eagles, seen by some as a positive step forward, and a 37-3 loss against the visiting Buffalo Bills after trailing 16-0 at the break the game before.

Washington has allowed at least 33 points in each of its last four games.

“Just missed plays. Missed tackles. Just things that we've got to correct. Mental mistakes,” Commanders safety Darrick Forrest said.

How lopsided was this one at the get-go? In the first quarter alone, Chicago produced three plays longer than any they'd had all season: throws of 58 and 39 yards from Fields to Moore, and a 34-yard run by Khalil Herbert. Washington, in contrast, had two three-and-outs in that period.

Fields also connected with Moore for a 56-yard TD toss in the fourth quarter, sending spectators to the exits.

And how did Washington's offense do? By the time Sam Howell led the hosts to their initial first down, nearly 2 1/2 minutes into the second quarter, Chicago (1-4) was already ahead 17-0.

At halftime, the tally was 27-3, and the Bears had outgained the Commanders 307-84 in total yards.

As the two-minute warning approached in the second quarter, a message reading “Make some noise” on the scoreboard went mostly unheeded.

Soon after, a chant of “Let’s go, Bears!” could be heard. And as the Commanders headed to the locker room for the half, full-throated boos came from the stands, along with some middle fingers and thumb’s-down gestures.

By game’s end, Fields was 15 for 29 for 282 yards and four TD passes, while Moore had eight catches for 230 yards with three scores. Howell, meanwhile, had two touchdown passes and one interception, while getting sacked five times to raise his total this season to a league-high 29.

Washington finally showed a hint of competence by opening the third quarter with a five-play, 75-yard touchdown drive capped by Howell’s 2-yard throw to tight end Logan Thomas. Howell ran in the 2-point conversion to get to 27-11.

Afterward, the Commanders forced the Bears to punt for the first time all evening. A comeback in the works? Not out of the question, especially given that Chicago blew a 21-point lead in what became a 31-28 loss to the Denver Broncos on Sunday, the 14th defeat in a row under coach Matt Eberflus.

But Washington’s ensuing possession ended on a fumble by Thomas. The next one closed with a 32-yard field goal by Joey Slye to make it 27-14 — and even that drew jeers, likely because fans would have preferred to see the man known as “Riverboat Ron” risk it on fourth-and-2 from Chicago’s 13.

Later, with a chance to cut the deficit to seven with under 5 1/2 minutes left, Slye missed a 46-yard attempt.



Recommended Videos