One week after losing to the Green Bay Packers in a performance coach Matt Nagy called “disappointing,” the Bears suffered a loss of a different flavor.
The Bears fell to the Detroit Lions 34-30 after leading most of the game. Seemingly minutes away from snapping a season-defining five-game losing streak, the Bears instead found the streak extended.
“We’ve been on the other end of so many of these,” said Nagy, “and now to have a lead like this and lose this way, it stings. It hurts. They all sting. They all hurt. I think you could feel the excitement on the sideline for our guys to come out and have that energy and be able to put points up on the board. I thought our guys, we did that.”
Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, in his second consecutive start, oversaw a balanced offensive effort for most of the game. Trubisky went into the game with efficiency as his main goal and appeared to be close to meeting it before a third-down strip-sack deep in Bears’ territory put the Lions in position to take the lead.
The Bears then turned the ball over on downs at the Lions’ 20 with :11 remaining.
“I was just in shock because I felt like we were going to win that one,” said Trubisky. “We drove down, and we were in control most of the game. They took the lead late, but I just believed that we were going to go down there and get a score. I was just a little shocked and disappointed.”
The Bears have lost in nearly every conceivable manner since their last victory on Oct. 18. They’ve lost in overtime, been blown out and, on Sunday, squandered a 10-point fourth-quarter lead.
“This is the life in sports,” said Nagy, “and it’s not easy. It’s not fun when you lose. And the only thing you can do is continue to support each other, just fight for one another and understand that it’s not because of lack of trying.”
Trubisky finished the day with 267 yards and one touchdown, completing 26 of 34 passes. The fourth-year quarterback, who has had several of his most successful games against the Lions, seemed prime to justify his reinstatement as the Bears’ starting quarterback. Instead, he will face another week of uncertainty about his status.
“I feel kind of mentally hardened throughout this whole process,” said Trubisky. “Just a lot of ups and downs throughout the season with everything that happened. I just feel like I’m in control of my emotions, and I just want to continue to be positive and make sure I’m lifting up my teammates so we can get this thing going in the right direction.”
The Lions pulled with three points on a 25-yard touchdown pass from Matthew Stafford to Marvin Jones with 2:18 remaining in the game. However, after the Lions opted against attempting an onside kick, the Bears took the ball on the 11-yard line.
Trubisky’s fumble came on third-and-four from the Bears 17-yard line. With the Lions keyed in on stopping running back David Montgomery, Nagy called a passing play to extend the drive and allow the Bears to run the clock out.
Lions defensive end Romeo Okwara caught Trubisky’s arm on the throw and defensive tackle John Penisini recovered the ball on the Bears’ 7-yard line, giving the Lions 1:48 to score.
“I think I was just separating to where I was going to throw,” said Trubisky. “I saw Anthony Miller over the middle. So, I don’t know if I was pump faking and clutching it or if I was gonna pull the trigger. Time was just running out. [Okwara] made a good play. Credit goes to them. I just gotta take care of the football.”
After Adrian Peterson scored on a five-yard run, the Bears had one final shot to reverse the outcome with 1:37 to play. Trubisky drove the offense down the field before the drive sputtered 20 yards from the end zone. On fourth-and-one, Trubisky handed the ball off to Montgomery, who could not get the first down, effectively ending the game.
Trubisky did not take issue with the play call.
“If you are telling me it’s one yard and we are handing the ball to David Montgomery,” said Trubisky, “my money is on him every time and our offensive line. It doesn’t matter what the situation is, so, I think, again, you have to give [the Lions defense] credit. They made the play. We didn’t. It’s as simple as that.”
The Bears will now need to contend with their longest losing streak since 2002. The past seven weeks have seen the Bears go from the NFC North’s surprise leader to tied for last place with the Lions, who won after firing head coach Matt Patricia last week.
“Is this right now a difficult time?” said Nagy, “You’re damn right it is. It really is. It’s hard. It challenges you in a lot of different ways. It’s hard, but this is also why we’re in the position that we’re in, is to let these guys see the authenticity of your belief and trust in them.”
Nagy was resolute in his postgame remarks, emphasizing the need for the team to rally together in times like these.
“I think the easy way out is for people in different positions like myself as a head coach to just chalk it up and say ‘this wasn’t our year,'” said Nagy, “but that will never happen to me and our guys. They feed off of that and that’s all we can do, the belief, the trust and that we have to finish strong and just understand that that’s what we have left, that’s what’s been given to us and that’s what we have to do.”