Late Bears rally falls short in 27-21 loss

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Bears Soldier Field photo
The Chicago Bears last second bid to rally from a 20-point fourth quarter deficit fell 7-yards short Sunday afternoon at Soldier Field when the Bears were unable to punch it in for a game-tying touchdown, eventually losing 27-21 to Tennessee. The Bears fall to 2-9 on the year, while the Titans even their mark to 6-6.

With the game on the line in the final minute, the Bears failed on four pass attempts  at the Tennessee 7, including costly drops on first down by a wide-open Josh Bellamy and fourth-down by a sliding Deonte Thompson. Dropped passes were a consistent theme all afternoon for Chicago, as receivers bobbled at least 10 balls that were in their grasp. The drops overshadowed a strong finish by Bears backup QB Matt Barkley.

“There were a lot of different guys out there that haven’t been in the position to catch or drop balls very many times. Those guys fought hard. They did a lot of good things. There were some good catches as well as drops,” summarized Bears head coach John Fox. “So just like anytime, if the result isn’t exactly what you were looking for, you go back to the drawing board and you learn from it.”

After a sluggish three quarter performance, the Bears offense got untracked in the final stanza behind backup Barkley. Barkley, making his first career start, began slowly, throwing two red zone interceptions that negated Bears scoring opportunities, but caught fire down the stretch, displaying poise and an accurate arm. He stood in against a blitzing Titan attack unit, finding Bears receivers down the middle and spread the ball around to multiple players.

WR Marquess Wilson, making his second appearance after sitting out most of the season due to injury, caught 8 balls for 125-yards, including a 8-yard touchdown reception. But Wilson, like his counterparts Cameron Meredith, Bellamy, Thompson, and RB Jordan Howard, each took turns dropping catchable balls that prevented the Bears from coming all the way back.

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Barkley, subbing for the injured Jay Cutler, finished 28-of-54 passes for 316 yards, 3 touchdown passes (8-yards to Wilson, 7-yards to TE Daniel Brown, and 6-yards to Thompson) and a pair of picks.  A patchwork offensive line held up well, keeping Barkley clean against the stunting Tennessee defense. Jordan Howard supplemented the passing game by turning in another solid performance, powering his way for 84-yards on 18 carries.

On the other side of the ball, the Chicago defense had no answer for Titans dynamic QB Marcus Mariota. Mariota, the second-year dual-threat option, threw three second-quarter touchdowns to provide the visitors a 21-7 halftime lead. Mariota continu

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ed his recent hot-streak, displaying the skills that made him the second overall pick in the 2015 NFL draft.  He completed 15-of-23 passes for 226-yards and has now thrown for 21 touchdowns vs. 3 interceptions over the last eight games.

The Titans overcame an early 7-0 Bears lead to take command early in the second quarter on the strength of three long scoring drives (75-yards, 64-yards, and 65-yards). Tennessee wasn’t one-dimensional either. The Titans racked up 149 rushing yards behind the tandem of DeMarco Murray and rookie Derrick Henry.

Still, the Bears had a chance for a win, only to see it slip through their fingers.

Paw Prints: The bad-luck Bears appeared to suffer another serious injury to a key player when LB Danny Trevathan went down with 2:29 left to play with an apparent knee injury. Head coach John Fox termed it a  “very serious injury”…..Bears newcomer Daniel Brown, a TE who previously played for the Baltimore Ravens and was signed a few weeks ago, caught his first-career touchdown….The Bears pulled off a rare onside kick at the beginning of the second half when Connor Barth’s onside kick hit a Titans player, bounced back, and was recovered by the Bears.

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