NASHVILLE – It’s been a long week for the Bears, and frankly, not a good one.
The team had to deal with two positive COVID-19 tests during the week, then two players go on the virus reserve list 24 hours before the game. Two starting offensive linemen were in that group and the Bears would be forced to staff the struggling unit with backups.
Matt Nagy lost a day of practice since Halas Hall had to close on Thursday because of the COVID positives while he tried to piece together a patchwork line. This, of course, comes as the Bears’ offense remains mired in a massive slump.
All of those made for a disaterous mix for Nagy and the team, who had a forgettable afternoon in Nashville in their first trip to the city in eight years.
The offense struggled for the first three quarters against the Titans, failing to score a point. While their defense held them in, a fumble return touchdown by Tennessee broke open the contest in the third quarter.
A late Bears’ comeback made the score look closer, but the Titans finished with a deceptively close 24-17 victory.
It’s the third-straight defeat for the Bears who now fall to 5-4 on the year as they stumble through the middle of the season for a second-straight year. They’ll have eight days off to regroup before hosting the Vikings on Monday, November 16th.
Once again, all the though will be on the offense, which had to use Alex Bars as a center for the first time, rookie Arlington Hambright at guard while moving Rashaad Coward to the tackle. Because of that, the Bears rush attack was ineffective again and the pass game couldn’t pick it up.
Through 30 minutes of football, Nick Foles and the offense had just 105 total years, had three first downs, and were 0-for-8 on third down. The Bears’ defense held strong rusher Derrick Henry to just 36 rushing yards in the first half, but a field goal & Ryan Tannehill 40-yard touchdown pass to A.J. Brown sent Tennessee to the break up 10-0.
Tennessee took command of the game in the third when Jeffrey Simmons stripped David Montgomery of the ball as he was running after a screen pass. Desmond King picked it up and went 63 yards for the score to make it 17-0.
Finally the Bears got a drive inside the Titans’ red zone early in the fourth quarter, settling with a Cairo Santos field goal inside the ten-yard line to break up a shutout. Tennessee responded with their best drive of the game, an eight-play, 76-yard drive that was completed on Tannehill’s short touchdown pass to Jonnu Smith.
As they have at times this year, the Bears’ offense finally woke up late. A 75-yard march that finished with Ryan Nall’s first NFL touchdown on a six-yard pass from Foles, and they’d follow that with an 80-yard drive.
Foles found Jimmy Graham for his fifth touchdown of the season to cut the lead to seven, but hopes of a rally ended when Santos’ onside kick was recovered by Tennessee. It sends the Bears to another loss and makes for a bad end to a miserable week.