In a game that is decided by inches, it’s fitting that the Bears were one-yard short on Sunday from forcing overtime against the New England Patriots. The Bears lost 38-31 at home, dropping their second consecutive game in what was a sloppy one from all three phases for Chicago. The Patriots have been the league’s most dominant team over the last 17 years and it is the small things that separated them from the Bears on Sunday.
Sunday’s game marked the third-straight game in which Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky threw for over 300 yards and led the offense to four touchdowns or more. Unlike weeks before, Trubisky struggled with accuracy as he only completed 52 percent of his passes and was intercepted twice.
The interceptions were close as both throws were just inches away from being completed passes rather than turnovers for the Patriots offense. On the first pass, Trubisky scrambled and threw along the sideline to Josh Bellamy who was coming back to the quarterback.
Bellamy did not battle for the ball as cornerback J.C. Jackson wrestled the ball away as both dove for the ball. With the second interception, the Bears quarterback had receiver Anthony Miller open near the end zone, but underthrew the pass allowing cornerback Jonathan Jones the ability to undercut the throw for the pick.
Had Trubisky led his wide receiver, the pass would have been completed for a 35-yard touchdown pass.
For the second consecutive week, the Bears defense struggled to create consistent pass rushing pressure and to tackle properly. The defense sacked Tom Brady just once on the day and failed to pressure often him into hurried throws.
The Bears inability to tackle in the four quarters was the difference in the Patriots’ win. Patriots wide receiver Josh Gordon caught a 55-yard pass from Brady in which a majority was yards after the catch in which the Bears failed to tackle Gordon three times.
Following a Bears score to cut the lead to 38-31 late in the fourth quarter, the defense failed stop the Patriots offense on the ground as they picked up two first downs allowing them to run the clock down to 30 seconds which would be the deciding difference.
Special teams haunted the Bears as the Patriots scored touchdowns on special teams miscues scoring on a blocked punt and a kickoff return. In the Bears’ three wins this season, their special teams had not caused any issues, but lately, have factored in their losses.
The small things that hampered the Bears on offense, defense, and special teams on Sunday are all things that have made the Patriots so good for so many years. Brady is regarded as one of the best ever when it comes to precise accuracy as he rarely underthrows or isn’t spot on with his throw. Defensively, Bill Belichick’s defenses have always pressured the opposing quarterback consistently and have not allowed extra plays or extra yardage due to poor tackling.
Proper tackling is what saved the game for the Patriots as when Trubisky’s Hail Mary throw was caught by Kevin White at the one-yard line, the defenders wrapped up perfectly not allowing a score. White not only was withheld from scoring but the Patriots decided to run rather than throw it and essentially end the game.
The NFL’s best teams win because they excel at doing the little things that prove costly to other teams. Brady and the Patriots were not as perfect as all three of their turnovers led to Bears scores.
The difference was that they capitalize more on the Bears miscues and shortcomings. Head coach Matt Nagy has a young team that has a lot of upside, but until his team can perfect the small aspects of the game, there will be separation from them and the league’s best.