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DETROIT — The Bears had just over four minutes remaining to put the finishing touches on a massive upset over the NFC North-leading Lions at Ford Field.
Instead, Sunday’s game ended in just the latest heart-breaking loss for the Bears. The Lions came back from a 12-point deficit in the fourth quarter and won 31-26.
The word that kept coming up in the postgame locker room and in Matt Eberflus’ and Justin Fields’ press conferences was “finish.”
And the Bears couldn’t do that on Sunday against the Lions.
“The main thing is that, you know obviously, the disappointment was the finish,” Eberflus said. “We didn’t finish it as a football team, didn’t finish it as coaches, as players the right way, and there are a lot of plays to be had out there and good calls we could’ve made in those situations to get us that victory.”
Things began to turn after the Bears’ third interception on Jared Goff, which gave Chicago great field position on Detroit’s 43-yard line. The Bears turned that Tremaine Edmunds turnover into a field goal, but there was an opportunity for more.
On third-and-1, Justin Fields went under center to try and pick up the first down on a quarterback sneak. The Lions stopped Fields for no gain, and Eberflus elected to have Cairo Santos kick a 40-yard field goal to give the Bears a 23-14 lead.
The Bears’ defense then forced a quick three-and-out, and Jaylon Johnson missed a chance to intercept Goff on third-and-13. He also had an opportunity at a potential pick earlier in the game, but couldn’t make the play and the Lions were able to score a touchdown on the following play.
“I definitely had a shot at both,” Johnson said. “I should have capitalized and honestly the game, I had two opportunities to put 14 points on the board. So I mean, just for me, I got to finish those, but not easy, easy catches, but I’m a player and I can make those plays and I gotta do it.”
Johnson couldn’t come up with those game-changing plays, though, and on the following drive after the three-and-out, the Bears again had to settle for a field goal on their 14-play, 70-yard drive.
The Bears at that point had a 26-14 lead with 4:15 left in the game. Then, the Lions made their comeback.
In six plays, the Lions marched down the field for a 75-yard touchdown drive that only took 1:16 off the clock. Goff connected with Jameson Williams for a 32-yard score to make it a 26-21 game.
The Bears’ offense responded with a 3-and-out, but — again — a big-time opportunity was missed. On third-and-9, Fields identified the safety come down in his robber coverage and threw a deep ball to Tyler Scott. The rookie wide receiver misplayed the ball and Chicago was forced to punt.
“It was just one-on-one, he had him beat, and he just misjudged the ball,” Fields said after the game. “He was running straight and tried to run it like (Fields looked over his shoulder), and got off balance, and that’s what caused him to kind of lose his speed. You know, he’s a young player with a bright future in this league, and he’ll bounce back.”
Scott also fumbled in the second quarter, and the Lions capitalized with a touchdown to Jahmyr Gibbs after starting on Chicago’s 34-yard line.
After the misconnection to Scott, the Bears punted and the Lions took over on their own 27-yard line with 2:33 left in the fourth quarter. Goff then led his team on an 11-play, 73-yard drive that ended fittingly with a David Montgomery 1-yard touchdown run. The Lions also were successful on the two-point conversion.
Fields and the offense got the ball back down 29-26 with :29 seconds remaining. On the first play, Aidan Hutchinson beat Darnell Wright around the edge and got his first sack of the game and also caused a fumble, which rolled in the back of the endzone — resulting in a safety.
Lions recovered the punt and ended the game with a victory formation kneel down.
“We just got to find a way to finish,” Khalil Herbert said after the loss.
Fields ended the game 16 of 23 for 169 passing yards and had one passing touchdown and no turnovers. He also added 104 yards rushing on 18 attempts.
Despite Fields’ performance and Chicago winning the turnover battle 4-1, the Bears found another devasting way to lose.
“I mean, yeah, it hurts a lot,” Fields said. “But, you know, I think you just got to take the positives out of it and learn from the loss. Like I said before, we did a lot of good things this game and we just got to build on it.”
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