The Eagles' final drive showed the Bears that their defense may still be good, but it's not great

The Eagles' final drive showed the Bears that their defense may still be good, but it's not great

With eight minutes and 48 seconds left in Sunday’s game, Bears’ punter Pat O’Donnell pinned the Eagles on their own 11-yard line. All of Philly’s first half momentum was gone, and Chicago’s offense was back from the dead, having scored two unanswered touchdowns. All the Bears needed to do was rely on one of the league's stingiest defenses to get the ball back in Trubisky’s hands, like they have so many times before. 

Trubisky never touched the ball again. In fact, the only offensive player to touch it was tight end Adam Shaheen, when he fumbled away the Eagles’ squib kick with 23 seconds on the clock. By that time, though, the damage was done; Philadelphia had put the game on ice with a 17-play, eight-minute drive. 

“It’s very uncharacteristic of us,” Prince Amukamara said after the Bears’ 22-14 loss. “Just with how everything went in that game, out of everything that happened, we were still in it. For us to not get off the field, we have to go back to the board and change. I feel like that’s kind of how it’s been the whole year – just not being able to get off the field.” 

There have been plenty of dejected locker rooms in the Bears’ 2019 season, but Sunday’s had the distinct feeling of something more. The team’s offensive struggles are nothing new, and Chicago’s history with kicks at the buzzer doesn’t need relitigation. But watching any realistic playoff berth be all-but-buried because the defense couldn’t get off the field hits a particularly sensitive nerve. 

“It sucks man,” Leonard Floyd said. “You want to win every game you go out there and play. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, so you have to refocus and get ready for next game. 

“Last year was last year. This is a whole new team. We’ve just got to execute man, finish the game the right way.”

What makes Sunday’s final drive tough to swallow for the Bears is the fact that Philadelphia managed to convert on four separate 3rd downs – three of which were from seven yards or more. First, Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz hit Alshon Jeffery for 13 yards on 3rd-and-3. Then there was a 15-yard screen on 3rd-and-12 to Miles Sanders. 

Linebacker Danny Trevathan, who was matched on Sanders for the play, said he just lost the rookie running back, calling it a case of “bad eyes.” 

“It’s a play I’ve got to make,” he said. “It’s a play I always make, I just have to make it. It’s easy to say from the outside world, it’s easy to bring it up, but you’ve just got to do it. I’ve got to be better at my job just like a lot of people need to be better at their jobs.” 

“I feel like they were kind of guessing through the game,” Sanders said. “... We got them on a boot and got the first down on one of those third-down conversions.” 

The final two conversions both came on tight end screens – one to Zach Ertz (3rd and 4) and the other (3rd and 9) to Dallas Goedert. 

“We just weren’t able to finish,” Khalil Mack said. “You want to get those plays back. Impressive plays.” 

Last year, the Bears continually relied on the defense to bail them out of games like the one played on Sunday. Whether it was Eddie Jackson running back a pick-six against Minnesota, Akiem Hicks forcing a fumble at the 1-yard line in Miami, or Kyle Fuller sealing a Thanksgiving win with a red zone interception, last year’s play-makers did just that. 

Halfway through 2019, they’re 3-5 without a notable turnover to their name. And if there’s one thing the Bears’ offense is farther ahead on than the defense, it’s dealing with adversity. 

“I love adversity,” Mack said. “It shows who you are, it shows you who everyone around you is as well. It’s one of those things where you have to look in the mirror and get ready for the next one. I love this game, and I’m going to give it all I’ve got when I’m on the field.” 

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Eric Ebron interacts with Akiem Hicks' NFC Championship tweet, causing free agency speculation

Eric Ebron interacts with Akiem Hicks' NFC Championship tweet, causing free agency speculation

Just as Bears fans were finally coming to terms with their disappointing 8-8 season, Akiem Hicks decided to pour some salt on the wound and take to Twitter, imagining what it would’ve been like if the Bears had made it to the NFC Championship game.

While we were all imagining how indeed “lit” it would’ve been to see the Bears play in the post-season at Soldier Field, Indianapolis Colts tight end Eric Ebron decided to quote tweet Hicks with a thinking face emoji. Curious behavior.

Ebron has played for the Colts since 2018, when he had a stellar first season in Indianapolis, scoring 14 touchdowns. In 2019, Ebron’s season ended after 11 games due to an ankle injury. He scored three touchdowns, reeling in 31 catches for 375 yards. Colts GM Chris Ballad has said that the organization is likely to move on from Ebron in 2020, meaning he would be available in free agency.

Tight end is one of the positions on the Bears long offseason do to list, and Ebron seems he could be a potential fit. Judging by their Twitter interactions, Akiem Hicks and Tarik Cohen seem to think so.

Hicks replied to Ebron telling him he could hear Bears fans calling his name. Cohen echoed this sentiment in his own tweet, albeit more cryptically.

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Ranking the most painful moments for Bears' fans during the 2020 Championship weekend

Ranking the most painful moments for Bears' fans during the 2020 Championship weekend

You may have noticed that none of the four teams that played this weekend were the Chicago Bears. They haven't played since the last week of December, but since this disastrous season won't end for another two weeks, there's been plenty of time for some especially painful parting shots. And weirdly enough, there were multiple moments through the two games on Sunday that reminded Bears' fans about the 8-8 season that absolutely no one is trying to remember. Shall we go through them? OK! 

4. Jimmy Garoppolo Beat The Packers To Go To The Super Bowl With 6 Completions 

Remember when the Bears were going to trade for Jimmy G? Back before they traded up to take Trubisky, rumors were swirling that the Patriots' backup was headed to Chicago. That is what it is -- everyone's connected to everyone at one point or another, and Bears have enough potential QB scenarios to give themselves a stroke over. The real kicker was beating the Packers, and Aaron Rodgers, while attempting eight pass attempts. Remember Nagy's I'm-Not-An-Idiot comment after running the ball 7 times against New Orleans. Imagine that, but it works, and it's in the NFC title game. The Bears couldn't beat the Packers on either occasion this season, and that included 98 pass attempts. That sound you hear is someone (you can choose, really) banging their head against the wall inside of Halas Hall. 

3. Raheem Mostert Rushing For 220 Yards and Four Touchdowns 

Truly an insane night for Mostert. He was briefly on the Bears during the 2016 season, which happened to be Jordan Howard's first and best. Mostert also was on three other teams (NYJ, SF, CLE) that year, and three OTHER teams (PHI, MIA, BAL) the year before, so it's not like the Bears are the only team sitting here with yolk on their face. Still, seeing an NFL journeyman get halfway to the Bears' total rushing touchdown number (8) in one game is the stuff that existential crises are made for. 

2. Robbie Gould's Kicking Well For A Super Bowl Team

Things were all well and good when Eddy Pineiro was hitting game-winners in Denver while Gould got off to one of the worst starts of his career. As the Bears' special teams unit watched from their rented South Beach group house, Gould went 3-3, including a franchise postseason record 54-yarder, in the Niners' 37-20 win. He started the season by being crowned champion of Chicago Football Madness, and now he gets a shot at ending it with another title, even if it's not quite as illustrious as the midwest's premier Bears-only online bracket challenge. 

1. Literally Everything Pat Mahomes Did All Day 

The decision to trade up for Trubisky was bad, but honestly, the endless stream of barely-distinguishable versions of the same snarky tweet may be worse. At some point Bears fans are going to have to come to terms with Pat Mahomes playing for the Chiefs, but it sure as hell won't be this year. In their defense, everything he does makes you physically stop whatever else you're doing and figure out what noise just came out of your mouth. Bears fans are robbing themselves of the best Mahomsian experience by insisting on slamming the Caps Lock button anytime the Chiefs play, but with each new height that Mahomes and the Chiefs reach, it becomes harder and harder to blame them.

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