The roller coaster that is the 2018 Chicago Bears season continued Sunday with a 31-28 overtime loss to the Dolphins in Miami. From the heartbreaking loss in Week 1 in Green Bay to a dramatic comeback win in Arizona, followed by a blowout victory vs. Tampa Bay, Sunday was another wild ride for Bears fans that ultimately ended in a gut-wrenching loss.
There is no way to sugar coat it … this loss stings.
The collapse against the Packers was tough to swallow, but this one hurts more. Going to Lambeau Field to play your biggest rival with a future Hall of Fame quarterback is a daunting task. Playing a Miami Dolphins team with a backup quarterback is a game any aspiring playoff team should come away victorious.
The Bears had opportunity after opportunity to secure that victory and failed to do so in all three phases.
Offensively, the Bears put up 28 points, but also had multiple scoring chances where they came away empty-handed. Jordan Howard’s fumble likely took seven points off the board. Mitch Trubisky’s interception in the end zone, which followed a highly questionable offensive pass interference call, took away another scoring chance. Tarik Cohen’s fumble late in the game ended a drive that also should have resulted in at least three points.
The defense appeared to still be on their bye week at times.
A unit that had been pressuring and sacking quarterbacks with regularity showed little pass rush and had zero sacks for the first time this season. With a chance to put the game away with a touchdown lead late, the Dolphins tied the game on the first play of the drive when Brock Osweiler passed to Albert Wilson for a 75-yard touchdown.
The ball traveled three yards downfield, and Wilson did the rest.
This was part of the problem for the Bears all day, as the Dolphins’ receivers ended the day with 274 yards after the catch. Whether the unit lost their edge with the announcement of Osweiler starting, or they ran out of gas in the Miami heat, their effort and open field tackling was unacceptable and a stark contrast to the dominating display of defense through the first four games.
Despite all this, the Bears had a chance to win the game in overtime when Cody Parkey missed a 53-yard, game-winning field goal attempt. The Bears gave Parkey a four-year, $15 million contract this offseason to make those kicks.
The bigger disappointment, however, came on the third down play before the missed kick. Matt Nagy seemed to be content with setting for a long field goal attempt rather than go for another first down.
For the second time this year, the rookie head coach took his foot off the gas and it backfired for his team.
As bad as it was, this is not a death sentence for this team.
Trubisky and the offense continued to show growth, and there is no reason to believe the defense will play that poorly again. The Bears still have a reasonable path to 10 wins, which puts them in a good spot as far as playoff contention.
The Bears cannot afford to lose to an inferior team again this season. They must come away with wins against the Jets, Bills, Giants, and 49ers. They must find a way to go 3-2 vs. the NFC North moving forward. If they can sweep Detroit, that means they must win one of the remaining three games versus Green Bay and Minnesota.
That puts Chicago at 10 in the victory column and allows for losses to the talented Patriots and Rams.
Of course, the Bears could do themselves a huge favor by stealing a game back, and they’ll have that opportunity next week when Tom Brady and the Patriots visit Soldier Field.