Bears

Instant reaction: Three plays that swung Bears' loss to Saints

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AP

Instant reaction: Three plays that swung Bears' loss to Saints

NEW ORLEANS — There were three key plays that were critical in swinging the Bears’ 20-12 loss to the New Orleans Saints on Sunday at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome:

— Kyle Fuller was flagged for being offside on what would’ve been a 32-yard Saints field goal. Instead, New Orleans got a first down and promptly scored the first touchdown against the Bears’ defense since Oct. 9 on Alvin Kamara’s eight-yard run. That swung four points in the Saints’ favor.

— Connor Barth missed a 48-yard field goal wide left late in the first half. The Bears should’ve done better to not put Barth in that situation — after getting to the 22-yard line with just over a minute left in the second quarter, Tarik Cohen lost three yards on a run, Mitchell Trubisky threw incomplete and then lost five yards when he was sacked. Getting in the end zone before halftime would’ve been big, but not getting those three points was another blow.

— Then there’s Zach Miller’s overturned touchdown, which unlike these previous two plays, was hardly something the Bears could control. Miller — who suffered a gruesome-looking leg injury on the play — appeared to make a catch on a perfectly thrown ball by Trubisky, and it was ruled a touchdown on the field. The play was put under review as Miller was being carted off, and it was overturned. It’s either a bad rule regarding a catch or a bad decision by the league’s replay officials (there’s nothing else Miller could’ve done while suffering that awful injury). Either way, the Bears had to settle for a field goal, missing out on four points in the process.

You can point to Miller’s overturned touchdown being the difference between 17-12 and 17-17 (had it stood, the Bears wouldn’t have needed to go for two on Cohen’s one-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter, and could’ve tied the game with a PAT). But the point here is the Bears don’t have much margin for error to overcome a questionable officiating decision.

Credit needs to be given to Vic Fangio’s defense for holding the Saints to six points in the second half and forcing two fumbles (Jonathan Bullard and Adrian Amos). Those fumbles gave the Bears’ offense a chance, but Trubisky couldn’t lead a game-winning drive after being given the ball by Amos’ strip on his own 30-yard line with just over two minutes to go. The Bears had two downs to pick up a yard and get a first down around the two-minute warning; Trubisky threw incomplete on both passes, then effectively ended the game when he was picked off by Marshon Lattimore on the Bears’ next offensive possession.

The limitations of the Bears’ offense remain clear — especially as the offensive line was uneven after losing Kyle Long (hand) and Cody Whitehair (elbow) on Sunday. A rookie quarterback making only his fourth career start with an inconsistent-at-best receiver group struggled to move the ball, though again, the defense proved it can keep things close to the best of its ability. But those early mistakes were what really came back to bite the Bears on Sunday.

Mitch Trubisky jersey sales trending in right direction

Mitch Trubisky jersey sales trending in right direction

Positive press about the Chicago Bears' offseason is having a strong impact on the jersey sales for the team's highest-profile player, Mitch Trubisky.

According to Dick's Sporting Goods, Trubisky's No. 10 is the fifth-most popular jersey among offensive players over the last 30 days. He's No. 6 among all players, regardless of position.

The Bears' offseason has been full of superlatives since their aggressive approach to free agency. The signings of Allen Robinson, Trey Burton and Taylor Gabriel put the spotlight on Trubisky and the potentially surging passing game. The second-round selection of Anthony Miller and word of Kevin White's offseason emergence has turned positive momentum into higher-than-anticipated expectations for Trubisky this season.

For Chicago to have any chance at meeting those expectations, Trubisky, who's entering his first full season as a starter with a new head coach and offensive system, has to thrive. Fans must be confident that he will, considering the investment they're making in his jersey.

Trubisky ended his rookie season with four wins in 12 starts, throwing for 2,193 yards with seven touchdowns and seven interceptions. He completed 59.4 percent of his passes. He should have a much more productive season in 2018 with his new arsenal of skill players and an innovative coaching staff, led by coach Matt Nagy and offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich.

These four Bears will be featured on 'Meet the Rookies' series

These four Bears will be featured on 'Meet the Rookies' series

The Chicago Bears will kick off the fourth season of "Meet the Rookies" on June 25, a series that profiles four of the team's 2018 draft picks for a behind-the-scenes look at their journey to the NFL.

The four-episode series will air on ChicagoBears.com at 7:00 p.m from June 25 - 28 and will feature one rookie per night. 

Monday's episode will cover the Bears' first-round pick, Roquan Smith. Selected with the eighth-overall pick, Smith is expected to become an instant-impact player on defense. He's expected to make an impact off the field, too, as a high-character leader. Smith's linebacker-mate Joel Iyiegbuniwe is the focus of Tuesday's episode, with Anthony Miller (Wednesday) and James Daniels (Thursday) rounding out Season 4.

For a deeper dive into what's in store in "Meet the Rookies," check out this description.