Were it not for the sawed-off shotgun accuracy of Mitch Trubisky, this one almost certainly would have been different.
And as it was, the Patriots avoided overtime against the Bears by about 12 inches.
It really shouldn’t be this hard. But it is.
On 14 possessions Sunday, there were only two on which the Patriots didn’t allow a first down. Everybody was having a good laugh at Trubisky’s nibbles of yardage in the final minute of the game until he wound up and completed a pass inside the Patriots 1-yard line that allowed him to finish the game personally accounting for 414 yards (333 passing, 81 running).
He’s not good. You know it. I know it. The Bears know it. And they almost sent this game to overtime.
Over the last 10 quarters (going back to the second half against Indy), the Patriots defense has allowed 1,197 yards of offense.
MORE COVERAGE FROM PATRIOTS' WIN
- Six takeaways: Pats escape by a yard . . . literally
- Best and Worst: Patriots 38, Bears 31
- Cordarrelle Patterson scores . . . and showboats
- Special teams save a not-so-special day
- Michel to reportedly have MRI on Monday
Yards, shmards, right? What about points? Over the same span they’ve allowed 92 of those.
Tom Brady’s pick in the fourth quarter when the Patriots were ahead 38-24 was a horrible idea. But the Bears still had to go 63 yards to score and make it a one-touchdown game. And they did.
The Patriots lost contain on Trubisky throughout the first half, allowing him to run five times for 42 yards. Instead of that being remedied at the break, Trubisky ran for 39 yards on the third play of the second half to set up a touchdown.
When Trubisky wasn’t letting the Patriots off the hook with his inaccuracy -- his underthrow of Anthony Miller in the second half allowed Patriots corner Jonathan Jones back into the play to make a terrific interception -- the Patriots were letting Trubisky off the hook by dropping would-be picks. Both Elandon Roberts and Stephon Gilmore failed to come up with end-zone interceptions that would have stopped drives that ended in touchdowns instead.
If the plan was to allow the Bears to pile up yards between the 20s and wait for Trubisky to make a mistake in the red zone, the trap was perfectly set. But the Patriots failed to spring it. The Bears went 3-for-4 in the red zone.
The Patriots got peppered in the middle of the field by Trubisky and Bears tight end Trey Burton who finished with nine catches for 126 yards on 11 targets. Running back Tarik Cohen caught another eight passes for 69 yards.
Last week, the Patriots were fortunate defensively in the first half when Patrick Mahomes overshot Kareem Hunt and Tyreek Hill in the red zone and had to settle for a field goal. And when Mahomes made a young quarterback mistake before halftime and threw into a Patriots team meeting, they made their own break.
The Patriots talk a lot about complementary football. One aspect of that is having one until bail out another when necessary. Three times, the Patriots defense was called on to bail the team out after turnovers.
Every time, the Bears scored a touchdown.
With Sony Michel likely down and Rob Gronkowski now battling both an injured ankle and a bad back, the New England offense might need a hand in the next few weeks.
Sunday, the defense didn’t provide it. And that’s turned into a habit with no signs of slowing down.
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