Special teams gave the Bears chances to take a win out of their game with the San Francisco 49ers. In the end, however, it was special teams that contributed mightily to a third 2015 miss at reaching .500, one in which the magnitude of the bads dramatically out-pointed the goods.
Robbie Gould, who’d missed two field goal attempts in one game just twice in his previous 10 NFL seasons, missed two on Sunday, the second double-miss day in the span of five games (San Diego). This time it was a fatal, Gould pulling a 36-yard try wide left on the final play of regulation.
[MORE: Blown chances in OT loss to 49ers put Bears on brink of being finished]
“I feel bad for my teammates,” said Gould, “because I didn’t do the job I was supposed to do.”
The opportunity for the winning kick was presented by a perfectly blocked 74-yard kickoff return by Deonte Thompson after the 49ers had tied the game on a 44-yard scramble by quarterback Blaine Gabbert. The return was nearly twice the Bears’ previous long this season (38 yards) and succeeded in putting the Bears at the San Francisco 28.
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The Bears were deprived of a punt-return touchdown in the first quarter, on San Francisco’s first punt, when Bryce Callahan brought a kick back 65 yards, only to have the runback nullified on a holding penalty against LaRoy Reynolds.
Marc Mariani averaged a respectable 7.6 yards on five punt returns while Bears punt coverage shut down the 49ers Bruce Ellington with zero yards on three returns. Pat O’Donnell averaged 42.8 yards on six punts and combined with his coverage unit to stick three inside the San Francisco 20.
Moon's Grade: D
The great Ricky Bobby once said, “If you ain’t first, you’re last.” Talladega Nights hit a little too close to home for the Bears in Week 7.
They came into Sunday at 3-2 at the top of the NFC North. After a 38-31 loss to the New England Patriots, they dropped to the bottom of the division.
The Detroit Lions defeated the Miami Dolphins 32-21 to improve to 3-3, leaving them tied with the Bears in the cellar.
The Minnesota Vikings’ 37-17 victory over the New York Jets jumped them to 4-2-1 overall and first place in the division over the 3-2-1 Green Bay Packers, who were off for their bye week.
The NFC North remains the most tightly contested division in the NFL, the only one with no teams under .500 through seven weeks of the season.
The final standings may not be decided until Week 17, and the Bears have already blown the early season cushion they built for themselves while the Vikings and Packers were struggling.
The divisional action will pick up in November, and Chicago only has a pair of games left to put it all together before back-to-back-to-back games against the Lions, Vikings and Lions again.
Matt Forte, Lance Briggs and Alex Brown join Laurence Holmes to break down the Bears 38-31 loss to the Patriots. What happened to the Bears defense over their bye week, and how did the special teams struggle so bad against New England? Plus – the guys debate Mitchell Trubisky’s decision making in the red zone and Matt weighs in on how the Bears should play his former team – the New York Jets – next week.
0:35– Special teams to blame for loss?
4:12– Where did the Bears pass rush go?
5:27– Bad tackling followed Bears from Miami
7:25– Are the coaches to blame for the defense after the bye?
10:10– Evaluating Mitchell Trubisky’s game
11:55– Agree with Matt Nagy on Mitch’s “mental” game?
13:30– Trubisky’s red zone decision making
17:10– Are the Bears giving away games so Mitch can learn?
18:00– Bears need to run the ball more
21:04– Matt Forte scouts his former team, the New York Jets
Listen to the full podcast here or in the embedded player below.