Losses like the one the Bears backed into Sunday have a way of simplifying the big picture. Sometimes the outlook is so bleak the details lose meaning.
After the Bears blew a 13-point fourth-quarter lead to the woebegone Jaguars in a 17-16 defeat, coach John Fox needed only two sentences to sum up a disappointing season that seems to be going nowhere.
“I don’t think it’s a lack of want-to, a lack of heart, a lack of trying,” Fox said. “We just don’t play well enough right now.”
The bad news: The Bears’ season-long difficulty turning yards into points continued.
Brian Hoyer threw for more than 300 yards (302 to be exact) and no interceptions for the third straight game. But once again, the Bears failed to score enough to win, this time producing only one touchdown.
They drove to the Jaguars’ 6-yard line and 14 on separate drives in the second half but settled for field goals each time.
“If there was a magic potion, we’d take it to figure out how to score these red-zone touchdowns,” Hoyer said. “But it just comes with hard work, reviewing what you’ve done and then trying to fix it.”
In this matchup of one-win teams, the Bears bludgeoned the Jaguars statistically for most of the game. By day’s end, they held a total yardage edge of 389-317, a possession advantage of more than 11 minutes and were plus-2 in the turnover department.
That didn’t matter, though, after Arrelious Benn‘s 51-yard touchdown reception with 2:49 remaining. The former University of Illinois receiver fell as he caught the ball, but so did Bears cornerback Tracy Porter. Benn got up first and outran Porter to the end zone. Soldier Field fell silent.
In the Bears locker room afterward, there was no mistaking where to look for how this game got away.
“We’ve got to score (expletive) touchdowns,” receiver Alshon Jeffery said. “That’s it. Period. Touchdowns win games. You see what three points get us.”
The good news: Yes, the Jaguars scored 17 points in the fourth quarter on touchdown drives of 75 and 78 yards, plus a 63-yard field-goal drive. But the Bears defense deserves credit for putting the team in position to win.
They forced two turnovers. Porter intercepted a bobbled ball in the end zone in the first quarter, and Willie Young had a strip-sack in the fourth.
“Defense, we’re playing lights out,” linebacker Danny Trevathan said. “I was proud. I mean, we gave away a couple of plays, but all in all we’re getting better, and it’s showing.”
Extra point: Jeffery finished with seven catches for 93 yards but had only one reception for 3 yards after halftime.
Early on, Hoyer exploited the Jaguars’ decision to cover Jeffery one-on-one with rookie Jalen Ramsey. Ramsey, however, redeemed himself by undercutting Jeffery’s route to bat down the pass on the Bears’ final offensive snap, a fourth-and-10 from the Jaguars’ 48-yard line.
Jaguars coach Gus Bradley said coaches told Ramsey in the second half that the game wasn’t won or lost in the first quarter.
“You have to finish,” Bradley said he told his first-round draft pick. “He finished and made a critical play.”
Hoyer targeted Jeffery 13 times, six in the second half. Jeffery’s previous single-game high this season was seven targets.
Up next: The easy schedule the Bears were supposedly going to benefit from this season? Yeah, about that.
After back-to-back losses to the Colts and Jaguars, now the schedule gets real.
The Bears have to turn around and play the Packers at Lambeau Field on Thursday night, followed by a Monday night meeting with the currently undefeated Vikings at Soldier Field on Halloween. The 1-5 Bears will be heavy underdogs in both games.
Looking ahead, 1-7 is a distinct possibility entering the week off at the end of the month.
Final word: “We sweat and bleed and fight together, and we’re going to stick together. We believe in what we have here. We just have to find a way to make those critical plays. That’s all it comes down to — just a few plays here and there, and the game could’ve been ours.” — Bears safety Harold Jones-Quartey.