Chicago Bears bobble away a third straight game
Bears coach Matt Eberflus called this a step forward in Justin Fields’ career.
Even if it was, it was still a step that fell just a few inches short. Again.
For the third straight week the Bears failed on a last drive at the win or tie, and this time they got within a few inches of beating the Washington Commanders but Darnell Mooney’s bobbled catch at the goal line left him just short of the end zone Thursday night in a 12-7 loss at Soldier Field.
” I told the guys that I was proud of them, and the way that they fought, and the way that they persevered throughout the day,” coach Matt Eberflus stated. It’s all about execution. It boils down to six or seven plays, and I told the men, “We’re right there, you’re right there.”
” You have to believe in what we’re doing and how we’re doing them. We’re right there, and we’re going over that hump.
The hump they couldn’t get over on Thursday was actually the goal line with three red zone trips, three inside the 10 that produced no points. They lost their third straight game to Washington (2-4), despite outplaying them in most phases.
Fields threw a 40-yard touchdown pass to Dante Pettis for a 7-3 lead and they led 7-6 before Washington took advantage of another muffed Velus Jones Jr. punt but this one at the 6-yard line leading to Brian Robinson Jr. scoring the go-ahead points on a 1-yard run halfway through the fourth quarter.
Fields had three times the Bears within the 5-yard line during the game, but they failed to score. He was out of bounds and was therefore ruled down.
” I’ve just got the game to close for us,” Mooney stated. “If I want that player, I have to be that guy for my team.
It was something Fields also said after he threw wide-open Ryan Griffin from the 3-yard line on a second-quarter play.
” The one that drove me crazy was the one to Griff at the end zone,” Fields stated. Fields said that he could have run a bit more, but he was wide open. I have to hit that. I’m an NFL quarterback. I have to hit that.”
Two more plays later, the Bears failed on a fourth and-1 run by Khalil Herbert, and one scoring opportunity vanished.
An additional chance came in the second quarter, when Fields threw an intercepted pass that hit a helmet and was caught by Jonathan Allen at the Washington 6-yard-line.
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The other failed chance was Mooney’s bobble that came about after a miraculous 39-yard scramble by Fields to the Washington 5 in the final seconds.
The Bears seemed done when Joey Slye lined up for a 48-yard field goal just before that but he missed wide left, and Fields rapidly led them down in the two-minute drill to the end zone porch, 61 yards in eight plays.
“Everybody’s mad,” Fields said. “Nobody is happy about the loss. We are always told that we’re almost there. Personally, I’m tired being almost there. I’m tired being so close.
” I feel like I’ve heard it for so many years now. But, you know, we have to get back to work. This is the only way you can react. You learn, and we’ll be back next weekend to try to make it better.
They had 14 of 27 for 190 yards from Fields despite a sore left shoulder, and he also ran for a team-high 88 yards on 12 attempts as Washington’s dynamic defensive line forced him to scramble often by beating up the Bears offensive line.
They outgained the Commanders 392 yards to 214 but couldn’t get that 1 extra yard needed at the goal line.
“When you get down there three times you’ve got to come away with some points, especially when you have a defense that can keep them to 12 points,” center Sam Mustipher said. “You have to score.”
It should have been six points, except for the muffed punch, Jones’ second and most likely last punt.
“Yeah, we’re going have to look at it,” Eberflus stated. “The No. The number one job of a punt returner or kick returner is to catch and return the ball. We’ll have to take a look at that.
He also plans to study other positions and usages of players during the mini-bye the Bears have this weekend before playing New England Oct. 24.
” We’re going to reassess all,” Eberflus stated. “Everything. “Everything. It could be a lineup change, or technique, fundamentals, or all of that. The scheme is how we run certain plays, who we get the ball to, what our strengths are, and what we can improve upon.
One improvement could be to get it over the goal line and close out a game after three consecutive weeks of narrow defeats at the game’s end.
The author of 5 books, 3 of which are New York Times bestsellers. I’ve been published in more than 100 newspapers and magazines and am a frequent commentator on NPR.