CHICAGO – Is there such a thing as a tragedy of errors, because there was certainly nothing funny Sunday about the Chicago Bears’ 16-13 loss to the Baltimore Ravens at Soldier Field.
In as gut wrenching a defeat as Bears fans have seen since January 6, 2019 when Cody Parkey’s 43-yard field goal double-doinked off the goalposts to drop a 16-15 Wild Card game to the Eagles, for the second week in a row the Bears snatched defeat from the jaws of victory after a seeming impossible and heroic comeback.
After Andy Dalton, in relief of Justin Fields who left the game with bruised ribs just 3 minutes into the second half, hit Marquise Goodwin for a 49-yard touchdown on fourth-andp11 with just 1:41 to play, it seemed the Bears would taste victory for the first time in six weeks.
The Ravens, playing without Lamar Jackson, hadn’t scored a touchdown all day, managing just 9 points on four trips inside the Bears’ 28-yard line. And this time they’d need a touchdown, a field goal wouldn’t do.
Ravens backup QB Tyler Huntley had been efficient all day, but impotent at the Bears’ end of the field.
But on the first play of the game-winning drive at his own 28-yard line, Huntley missed Rashod Bateman deep only to have Bears corner Kindle Vildor called for his second big pass interference of the game.
On the next play, Huntley hit Devin Duvernay behind Vildor for another 21 yards to the Bears’ 30.
Still, the Bears had the Ravens at third-and-13 at the 32-yard line with 33 seconds to play when someone blew a coverage and Huntley found Sammy Watkins all alone at the Bears’ 3-yard line.
One play later, as the Bears appeared confused lining up with only four players on the line of scrimmage, Devonta Freeman walked into the end zone.
For 57 minutes, of the six units on the field – Ravens and Bears offenses, defenses and special teams, respectively – the Bears defense had easily been the best, and then suddenly it disappeared.
Now there are seven games left to play, but this performance was so embarrassing, and the collapse so complete, it is hard to find the road map as to how Matt Nagy will keep his job.
The offense was awful in the first half with Fields taking a giant step backwards after his breakout performance in Pittsburgh last week.
He was 4 of 11 for 79 yards and didn’t throw a pick, but he did lose a fumble on one of the two sacks he took while appearing indecisive, holding the ball too long and inaccurate on half his throws. This came against the worst pass defense in the NFL.
Special teams contributed a 40-yard missed field goal from Cairo Santos and a partially blocked punt from Patrick O’Donnell.
Immediately following the game Robert Quinn, who was heroic all afternoon with five tackles, 3 ½ sacks, four QB hurries and a forced fumble called the loss “sickening” and repeatedly paused in mid-answer, at a loss to describe his frustration.
Afterwards, Nagy was visibly shaken and disgusted.
“You gotta finish. You gotta be able to end the games and close them out,” Nagy said. “You have the lead in two games to be able to close it out and win both of those games and we didn’t do that.”
When you see the same missed assignments, silly penalties, consistent lapses in judgment and focus on the field and the sidelines, how do you stop the bleeding?
With Detroit just four days off there will be no changes in the next few days, but the argument this club is just a handful of plays in the last two games away from being 5-5 and in the thick of the playoff chase is a false narrative.
They blew a game to the Ravens Sunday they should have won by 20 points with the same mistakes we have seen over and over during the current five-game losing streak.
Short of it happening on the field the next few weeks with a sustained winning streak,which right now feels as unlikely as the Ravens’ winning drive, change will almost certainly be coming at the top.
After Sunday it seems more a question of when rather than if.