This ought to have been a narrative about progress, about function, a few feisty NFL underdog that went on the highway Sunday and gave it to one of the best crew of their division in nearly each approach conceivable.
Forced 4 turnovers. Controlled the ball for greater than 40 minutes. Sunk its claws right into a golden alternative and appeared able to make an announcement with a signature victory.
That’s how good the Chicago Bears have been for two hours and 38 minutes Sunday afternoon, enjoying collectively, enjoying free, pummeling the Detroit Lions with aggressiveness and well timed playmaking.
Man, what a narrative this might have been.
Should have been.
Instead? This, sadly, has turn into one other story about disappointment and disbelief, the sort that exhibits up in a surprised locker room after a crew’s most spectacular efficiency of the season topples like a toddler’s Jenga tower.
This is the newest dispiriting chapter in a thick saga of woe for the Chicago Bears, who left Ford Field on Sunday as inconceivable 31-26 losers after being outscored 17-0 within the last 4 minutes and 15 seconds.
So a lot for ending an 11-game NFC North shedding skid. Instead, that streak ticked as much as 12.
“If I’m keeping it real with all of you, we should’ve won that game,” quarterback Justin Fields stated. “It just comes down to finishing and executing at the end of the game.”
Fields was sensible Sunday, speeding for 104 yards and throwing for 169 extra with a 39-yard landing strike to DJ Moore within the third quarter. Like so many issues Bears, it was encouraging but it surely wasn’t sufficient.
Instead of celebrating a triumphant return after a month away from sport motion, Fields left Detroit with a pit in his abdomen.
“It hurts,” he stated. “It hurts a lot.”
Rookie cornerback Tyrique Stevenson shook his head together with his personal dejection, nonetheless unable to fathom how the Bears got here aside when it mattered most with the protection permitting landing drives of 75 and 73 yards to blow a 12-point lead down the stretch.
“It’s unexplainable,” Stevenson stated. “It’s really unexplainable at the end of the day.”
Stevenson delivered Sunday, intercepting a Jared Goff go within the first quarter for the primary of 4 Bears takeaways. The rookie cornerback later compelled a fumble on a Lions kickoff return, which the Bears recovered and become a 39-yard landing march.
Instead of celebrating a breakthrough, although, Stevenson left Detroit together with his mind spinning.
“It’s an unexplainable feeling to be honest,” he stated. “I can’t even put words to it.”
So a lot for the Bears profitable consecutive video games for the primary time since late within the 2021 season. Instead, right here they’re once more, compelled to reboot and are available to phrases with one other breakdown.
“Obviously the disappointment is our finish,” coach Matt Eberflus stated. “We didn’t finish as a football team, didn’t finish the right way as coaches and as players.”
This ought to have been a narrative about jubilation, not disappointment.
With 6:30 remaining, the Bears had a two-score lead, the ball and a brand new set of downs after Fields transformed third-and-14 with an explosive 29-yard scramble. After Fields slid down on the Lions 31 yard line in entrance of his personal bench, he popped to his ft and uncorked a collection of dance strikes.
“I was just feeling it,” he stated.
Understandable, too, provided that the Bears have been positioned so as to add to their 23-14 lead with the clock ticking away. But that possession stalled shortly after with Cairo Santos’ fourth area objective — from 39 yards — offering a snug 12-point benefit with lower than 5 minutes remaining.
All that was left was a ceremonial door-closing towards a flustered Detroit offense which, to that time, had thrown extra interceptions (three) than it had scoring drives (two).
Instead? The Bears unraveled. In epic trend.
Maybe they exhaled prematurely. Maybe the protection misplaced focus simply sufficient to maintain the door open for the Lions. But the collapse started with Detroit needing only one:16 to march 75 yards for a rating that put them proper again within the sport. That landing got here on a way-too-easy deep shot from Goff to Jameson Williams. That go coated 32 yards with Williams slipping behind Bears cornerback Jaylon Johnson and breaking to the nook of the tip zone as security Eddie Jackson gave chase.
“We’ve got to do a better job staying back,” Eberflus stated. “We always have to play high-to-low in that situation.”
Johnson, whose tough afternoon included a 34-yard go interference penalty and a pair of close to interceptions, struggled to simply accept his dejection.
“We didn’t execute the way we needed to,” Johnson stated. “It’s pretty frustrating. I mean, I feel like, honestly, the whole game we whooped their ass. And then they came through when it mattered.”
The Bears nonetheless led 26-21 with lower than 3 minutes remaining. And if the offense may have responded and met their subsequent second, they might have sealed the sport.
Instead? A 3-and-out collection included a run up the center to Khalil Herbert for no achieve, a read-option give from Fields to Herbert — once more for no achieve — and a barely-missed dagger deep ball to rookie Tyler Scott.
Fields defined his choice to provide the second down handoff to Herbert with the Lions exhibiting a five-man entrance and linebacker Derrick Barnes staying dwelling on the sting whereas zeroing in on the quarterback. “That was a good read for sure,” Fields stated.
The Bears additionally felt just like the shot play to Scott was there with Lions security Tracy Walker charging down to remove DJ Moore on a crossing route as Scott gained separation from cornerback Cam Sutton deep.
That may have been an upset-sealing completion. Instead, Scott decelerated for a fraction of a second and couldn’t snare a well-thrown deep ball.
Fields instantly put each fingers on his helmet in disbelief.
“If that thing connects,” Fields stated, “I think that seals the deal.”
Added Scott: “I had a clear launch. It felt like a terrific muscle reminiscence sort of route. And I ran pondering of all my teaching factors. Looking up and never again on the ball. (That approach it’s) simpler to trace.
“Justin threw a great ball. A great ball. Looking up at it, I just kind of misjudged it a little bit. It’s something to learn from.”
Instead, the Bears punted, then surrendered a game-losing 11-play, 73-yard landing drive that included just one Lions third down.
Instead. Instead. Instead.
“It’s about playing four quarters, man, and playing through the last couple seconds,” stated Bears linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, who had a third-quarter interception of Goff. “We have to do a better job of finishing.”
Naturally, the Lions’ go-ahead landing within the last minute got here from former Bear David Montgomery, an emotional 1-yard run with 29 seconds to play that nearly blew the roof off Ford Field.
“It was either I score or I don’t,” Montgomery stated. “And I know who I am.”
Goff completed the afternoon 23-for-35 passing for 236 yards and two touchdowns. A dozen of these completions and 117 passing yards got here in the course of the Lions’ last drives of every half, each producing touchdowns.
“We found a way to make it work there at the end,” Goff stated. “It’s a sign of a good team. We’re a resilient group. We’re tough. We had a lot of courage and we don’t back down from anything.”
Those feel-good vibes have been in every single place for the fearless first-place Lions, who improved to 8-2 in pursuit of their first-ever NFC North championship. Right now, they really feel like a crew with the magic sauce to make noise by means of the remainder of the common season and nicely into the winter.
Must be enjoyable.
Not distant, in a dazed Bears locker room, gamers and coaches tried to course of their destiny, tried to know for higher emotions.
“We can see it and everybody else can see it. We’re a team on the rise,” Stevenson stated. “We’re starting to understand who we are and figuring out what we can do in this league.”
That’s what this story ought to have been about.
Instead. Instead. Instead.
Instead, the Bears fell to 3-8 general and 2-11 in one-score video games underneath Eberflus’ steering during the last two seasons.
After a day with a lot promise, a lot manufacturing, a lot obvious progress, the Bears once more flew dwelling with that ugly and acquainted feeling of failure.