This past Sunday may have very well been the make-or-break point for the Chicago Bears’ season. After losing five games in a row, the Bears were looking to reprise their week one win against the Detroit Lions. And the cards seemed to be in their favor. First of all, the Lions are the only NFC North foe that the Bears have managed to defeat this year, losing to both the Packers and Vikings in November. Secondly, the Bears were on home turf, with one of their most notable players back in the lineup: defensive end Akiem Hicks. Hicks was a missed presence against Green Bay, and Aaron Rodgers took the opportunity to embarrass our defense. We don’t need to rehash that.
Wildcard hopes and realities
What we do need to rehash is how close the Bears have come to snagging a wildcard spot in the past couple of weeks. Even with a losing record, they were still in the running going into Sunday’s game, in reach of edging out a couple of different teams around the NFC, like potentially Tampa Bay or the Rams. But now, and excuse me for burying the lead, the Bears find themselves slipping further and further into the playoff-less abyss after their sixth straight loss.
It looked to be alright
Speaking of the loss, what’s usually comforting about division games is that you play teams twice every season. That means if you win the first game, there’s really no reason to lose the second game, save for extenuating circumstances. And until the last three minutes of Sunday’s game, it looked like the Bears would win again.
Decisions from the playmaker himself, quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, were pretty sound, especially throughout the first half. His quick decisions led to a field goal and a touchdown in the Bears’ first two possessions of the game.
The offensive line, a glaring Chicago problem, was not a glaring issue on Sunday. They found a rhythm and pulled off their most promising performance of the season, giving Trubisky enough time to throw and Montgomery and Patterson enough time to edge up the field.
All in all, the offense was able to score 30 points, which is tied for the most amount of points the Bears have scored all season. They also scored 30 points in their early-season victory against the Atlanta Falcons. Remember winning?
A catastrophic ending
The Lions scored a touchdown inside four minutes left of the fourth quarter, bringing the score to 30-27, Bears. All the Bears had to do was run down the clock, and maybe even score, if they felt like it. But if you’re a Bears fan, you know that a three-point margin is dangerous, especially with three minutes left for someone to screw something up.
The Bears got the ball back deep in their own half, courtesy of the Lions’ special teams squad downing the ball a little closer to the endzone than I would have liked. Cue the disaster. Somehow, someway, a Lions defender broke through Trubisky’s protection and knocked the ball out of his hand as he wound up to throw. Long story short, the Lions recovered the football inside the Bears’ 10-yard line. A couple of seconds later, veteran running back Adrian Peterson (yes, that one) ran in the last score of the game. The Bears got the ball back, but whoever was calling the plays was not trying that hard, stringing together lots of short passes instead of being aggressive. The Bears turned it over on downs, and the Lions took the victory back to Detroit. Game over with a score of 34-30.
Is there enough blame to go around? Probably. But I’m casting most of my share onto the defense. I think the offense set out what they were supposed to do, all last-minute coaching decisions aside. But why did we allow the Lions to get close to our lead in the first place? We have to be smarter about covering our men and tackling with our whole bodies. But that may not transpire until a regime change. Some articles are already speculating about head coach Matt Nagy’s future with the team, as well as some former players expressing dismay, such as Matt Forte.
“Just throw the whole offense away…Coaches included!” said Forte on Twitter after the game.
Maddie’s Monster of the Game
My last-ever Monster of the Game selection goes out to my guy David Montgomery once again. He was able to secure two touchdowns on Sunday and make the big runs when it counted, save for being stuffed on fourth down in the fourth quarter. It has been an honor to be his jersey buddy for the last two years, and I am excited to see how he performs the rest of the season. Honorable mention goes out to Cordarelle Patterson for being the jack of all trades this season. He’s been everywhere that the offense has needed him to be.
Even though the Lions and Bears now have the same record, the Bears are clinging to the number three spot in the NFC North. The Vikings continue to improve, now boasting a .5 record of 6-6, after a too-close game against the Jaguars.
1st place: Packers (Won against the Philadelphia Eagles)
2nd place: Vikings (Won against the Jacksonville Jaguars)
3rd place: Bears
4th place: Lions
Farewell for now
Only four games remain, can you believe it? This week, we play the Houston Texans, followed by the Vikings, Jaguars and Packers.
I didn’t expect this to happen so quickly, but this is the last postgame story of my column. When you hear from me next, it will be in the form of a season recap in the spring. Thank you so much to everyone who has held on to every melodramatic word over the past three years. I will make sure to thank you again soon. Hold on tight to the end of the season, Bears fans. I’ll see you on the other side. Until then, mask up and Beardown. Thanks for reading.