Litmus Test Reveals Bears Have A Long Way To Go

October 21, 2018 - 6:28 pm
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CHICAGO (670 The Score) -- In the end, one mere yard was the difference between the young, hungry Bears and the gold standard that is the Patriots. 

Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky put his all into a Hail Mary heave, receiver Kevin White went up to catch the football and the Patriots stood him up at the 1-yard line. In a 38-31 loss to the Patriots on Sunday at Soldier Field, the Bears came up just short on the scoreboard.

But when it was over, nobody on the Bears was kidding himself thinking that one yard was so decisive on a contest that they viewed as a litmus test agagainst a perrenial championship contender.

"It's not good enough anymore to come up short," Trubisky said of the game as whole. "We're letting each other down, we're letting our fans down and we don't want to do that. There's a new standard, and we love how coach (Matt) Nagy has set the bar high for us. We know that we can reach it and go get it every single week. We just got to get better and accept the challenge."

Bernstein: Sloppy Bears can't take advantage

The Bears (3-3) played sloppy in all three phases of their game. Trubisky struggled against constant Patriots pressure, finishing 26-of-50 for 333 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. The defense scuffled for a second straight week, allowing Tom Brady and his offense to control the game. 

But the biggest Bears blunders came on special teams, as they allowed a 95-yard kick return for a touchdown to Cordarrelle Patterson in the second quarter and had a blocked punt returned for a touchdown in the third quarter. The Bears fed the Patriots two touchdowns.

The blocked punt could've been avoided, but tight end Ben Braunecker -- the Bears' punt protector on the play -- was blown up by Patriots starting linebacker Dont'a Hightower, who got a clean rush at punter Pat O'Donnell. For a reserve player trusted on special teams, Braunecker took this play hard.

"My legs just got taken out from under me," Braunecker said. "Before I knew it, I was just flat on my back. I can't imagine a worse feeling on a football field knowing that you're responsible for that.

"Really unacceptable, and frankly I'm really embarrassed about it. But it is what it is."

Following their meltdown in Miami last week, the Bears embraced the chance to bounce back against a team like the Patriots. This game was played in the comforts of home, and the Bears viewed it as their next opportunity. They hoped to turn those costly mistakes against the Dolphins into winning plays against the Patriots.

Trubisky was striving to prove himself playing against a future Hall of Famer in Brady. The defense was looking to show it could be dominant even with Khalil Mack hampered by his ankle injury. The Bears were aiming to play a four-quarter game after showing too much inconsistency last week.

Instead, Trubisky was off with far too many of his throws and the Bears left points on the field. Instead, the defense allowed the Patriots to gain 6.0 yards per play and failed to adjust against Brady's quick release. Instead, the Bears gifted a championship-level team 14 points and lost by seven.

"Super tough loss," defensive lineman Akiem Hicks said. Super tough loss ... We didn't play the way we wanted to play."

The Bears were in no mood to take pride in losing only by a score to one of the league's top teams. Nagy used the Hail Mary as an example of how close the Bears were in the end and how it embodied coming short for an entire game.

Losses like these are already getting old for the Bears, who fell from first place in the NFC North to a tie for last. The Bears are striving to become a winner, but in some ways, they beat themselves against the Patriots.

"The standard is higher," Trubisky said. "We just got to keep getting better and better. We have a good idea that we can play with anybody when we're playing well. When we're playing even better, we can beat teams like that. We just got to look ourselves in the mirror, go back to work this week and see what we can prove."

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for 670TheScore.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.​​