For most of the Bears-Broncos game at Soldier Field Sunday, it wasn't obvious which team was 7-2 and which team was 4-5.
In the end, the Bears just didn't make enough plays to win, as the Broncos walked away with a 17-15 victory.
Both teams were playing without several top players (Peyton Manning, DeMarcus Ware, Emmanuel Sanders out for the Broncos; Alshon Jeffery, Matt Forte, Antrel Rolle out for the Bears) and with Brock Osweiler making his first career start at quarterback for Denver and the Bears without top offensive options, both teams resigned to a conservative approach on offense.
That conservative approach reared its head with the Bears going for a game-tying two-point conversion with 24 seconds left, as offensive coordinator Adam Gase called a run with Jeremy Langford out of the shotgun. He was denied and the Bears couldn't recover the onside kick, resulting in a heartbreaking two-point loss after an inspired effort.
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The Broncos scored a touchdown on the first drive of the game as poor coverage left Demaryius Thomas wide open and poor tackling helped the All-Pro receiver find the endzone for a 48-yard score.
But the Bears defense stiffened after that, containing the Broncos offense and allowing just a field goal until Osweiler hit Cody Latimer for a 10-yard TD with just under 12 minutes left in the game.
The problem for the Bears was a lack of punch on offense, where they were forced to settle for three field goals on their first six possessions inside Broncos territory.
Jay Cutler and Co. responded to the Broncos' fourth-quarter TD by marching downfield more than 70 yards on two plays, thanks in large part to a 15-yard personal foul by Denver safety T.J. Ward for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Cutler after an 18-yard scramble. But the Bears failed to punch it in the endzone, turning the ball over on downs after three straight incomplete passes by Cutler.
After the Bears defense held and forced a punt, Cutler marched the offense downfield again before Broncos star rusher Von Miller hit the ball out of Cutler's hand. The ball then bounced off Bears guard Patrick Omameh and into the hands of Broncos defensive lineman Malik Jackson.
The Bears defense held again, sacking Osweiler on third down to force another punt.
Cutler led the offense down the field one more time, before punching it in the endzone on a Langford carry and coming up short on the two-point conversion.
Considering he was without his top options on offense, Cutler turned in a gutsy effort, using his legs and feet to dance around in the pocket and buy time for an overmatched receiving corps.
Cutler finished the day with a 70.4 passer rating against the NFL's top defense, completing 18 of his 32 passes for 265 yards and one interception (and the fumble).
The Bears moved to 4-6 on the season and will head to Green Bay for a Thanksgiving night matchup with the Packers.