Magic Johnson chides Commanders in Thursday’s loss

Washington Commanders part-owner Magic Johnson has chided his NFL team for showing no intensity or fire in a 40-20 loss to the previously winless Chicago Bears.

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October 6, 2023 - 3:21 PM

Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields (1) loads up a 20-yard touchdown pass to DJ Moore, not pictured, in the first quarter against the Washington Commanders at FedEx Field Thursday, Oct. 5, 2023, in Landover, Maryland. (Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune/TNS)

LANDOVER, Md. (AP) — 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.

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 2½ 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.

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