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The Chicago Bears did it! They earned their first No. 1 overall pick since 1946 by setting a record for most consecutive losses in franchise history.
But despite posting a 3-14 record, the Bears were close to winning in more than a few games. It is not hard to find at least five and maybe even seven games they could have won. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the top five mistakes the Bears made as they were able to luck themselves into the No. 1 overall draft pick and all the options it provides this exciting offseason to come which is finally here.
5. The Velus muff — Giants (October 2)
Coming into Week 4 against the New York Giants, the Bears were an exciting 2-1. A road game versus banged-up Daniel Jones and Brian Daboll seemed like another possible win even though Fields was off to a slow start. Jones was dealing with an ankle injury but had to play because backup Tyrod Taylor had to leave with a concussion.
But the Bears offense was still in early season struggle mode and could not get into the end zone, settling for four Michael Badgley field goals instead. Even still, the Bears were still within one score with 2:13 left. Giants punter Jamie Gilan boomed one from his own end zone to Velus Jones who drifted awkwardly back to his own 35-yard line. Jones never caught it, the Giants recovered and the Bears were 2-2, starting a streak that would see them lose 13 of their final 14 games.
4. The Ihmir Smith-Marsette fumble — Vikings (October 9)
You might remember the Bears wide receiver core was depleted to start the season. N’Keal Harry, Byron Pringle and Velus Jones all missed games so Ryan Poles went searching for depth and landed on speedy Ihmir Smith-Marsette who had made one start for the Vikings in 2021. Smith-Marsette had a chance to prove his former team wrong but he cost the Bears twice in week 5. First, Smith-Marsette was called for an illegal block wiping out a would-be Justin Fields 52-yard touchdown run. The Bears settled for a field goal and a 22-21 fourth-quarter lead. The Vikings marched 80 yards to take the lead, but the Bears still had a chance down seven points. Fields connected with Smith-Marsette in Vikings territory who tried to play hero and score a touchdown instead of going out of bounds. Cameron Dantzler had other ideas and ripped the ball out of Smith-Marsette’s hands for a Vikings’ 29-22 win. Insteaed of springing a huge upset in Week 5, the Bears fell to 2-3.
3. The Darnell Mooney Drop — Washington (October 13)
3. Darnell Mooney Drop — Washington (October 13)
There was hope coming out of the Minnesota game that the Bears had at least started to find their offensive wings. Fields passed for over 200 yards for the first time (205) and the Bears scored 22 points. At 1-4, Washington looked like a winnable game at home. Not so fast. Perhaps it was the quick turnaround playing on Thursday night or more likely the Commanders’ pass rush that put the Bears offense back to Week 1 levels. Another Velus Jones muffed punt happened in this one and it cost Jones his job as the Bears punt returner. The Bears still had a chance to win the game on their final possession, though. Fields, who had thrown an interception in the first half in the red zone, had the Bears down to the 5-yard line after a scintillating 39-yard run. The Bears had four chances to win the game. Dante Pettis had the ball in his hands in the end zone on third down while being interfered with. Pettis dropped it. Then it was Darnell Mooney’s turn to come up short at the goal line bobbling a would-be touchdown pass falling out of bounds just short.
2. Cairo Santos missed extra point — Detroit (November 13)
Cairo Santos had made 17 straight extra points. The kicker was seemingly the least of the Bears’ problems who very much looked like they were headed to victory up 14 to start the fourth quarter versus Detroit at Soldier Field. But Fields threw an ugly interception to college teammate Jeff Okudah that tied the game at 24. Fields remarked after the game he would “never” make that mistake again. Fields almost immediately atoned for his interception sin scampering 67 memorable yards for a go-ahead touchdown. The Bears were back in front 30-24. And then the Santos missed extra point happened. According to Santos it was “something in the operation.” The Bears defense gave up a touchdown on cue. The offense had no juice left. Lions 31 Bears 30. The Bears third loss in a row on their way to 10.
1. Justin Fields gets hurt — Atlanta (November 20)
It was yet another tight loss for the Bears, 27-24. The Bears would lose seven games by one score in 2022, the most in the NFL. This one double hurt due to Fields getting hurt on the Bears’ final possession landing awkwardly on his shoulder. Fields tried to fight through the pain but his wobbly floater intended for David Montgomery was picked off by Jaylinn Hawkins with 1:07 left. Game over and Fields would miss the following week’s game at the New York Jets. It would be the Jets’ last win of the season and loss number four in a row for the Bears who would not win another game.
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