Back when the Bears were turning their season at least partway around with wins over Oakland and Kansas City, the Bears took pride in developing a self-image as fighters who’d shaken off the fatalism of the recent past and believed they could win games late.
Then came the disappointments in the losses to Detroit and Minnesota, where fourth-quarter leads were lost late, defeats that now are the difference between being 3-5 and 5-3 and in true playoff contention.
With the road win at San Diego, in which the Bears delivered game-winning plays within the final minutes on both offense and defense, as well as stops on special teams, the sense of identity has been restored in the minds of players who still believe they can reach the postseason.
“I think it was something we built toward the whole weekend, finally put it together as a team and were able to close one out,” said linebacker Lamarr Houston, whose two sacks of Philip Rivers in the last 2 minutes combined to put the Chargers in third- and fourth-and-23 situations. “I think that we just learned how to finish right now and I think it’s something that we’re going to keep on aiming for every week and keep on making sure we pay attention to detail so we can get better.”
The Bears scored twice in the fourth quarter for the fourth time this season. They are 3-1 in those games, 2-1 when they score two touchdowns in the fourth quarter as they did in San Diego and Kansas City, losing in Detroit.
One of the foundation principles of the 2015 team has been the buy-in of players into what a veteran, proven coaching staff under John Fox is teaching, both in terms of technique/scheme as well as mindset.
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“Well, Foxy always tells us ‘don’t flinch,’ ‘don’t blink,’” said tackle Kyle Long. “Things are going to happen, that’s the nature of the game. It’s not going to be all uphill or downhill for us. It’s going to be: You’re going to have some tough spots throughout the game and you need to be able to survive the body blows and keep working.”