Alshon Jeffery did his best to keep the swear words to a minimum. But the emotions after the Bears’ 30-27 loss Sunday to the Green Bay Packers were hard to contain.
A long, warm shower after a frigid game played without sleeves didn’t help much. Neither did more time. Jeffery was the last player in the locker room.
Losing to the Packers was worse than frostbite.
“I just know that we want to win games,” Jeffery said. “[Expletive], if you ain’t trying to win games, they’re going to get rid of you [as] players. That’s how I feel about it.”
Jeffery’s rant continued. The team captain in him seemed to be delivering a message before he caught his own words.
“We need guys on this team [who are playing] to win,” said Jeffery, who had six receptions for 89 yards and a touchdown. “We’re fighting; that’s all that matters to me.
“But [I’m] not saying that we give up because we got guys on this team. Everybody’s [playing] to win. The main part was about winning. If you ain’t trying to win, [expletive], I don’t know, boss.”
If Jeffery’s words seemed convoluted, it’s because they were. His voice quivered. He was defiant and downcast. He was proud of the Bears’ fight but defeated nonetheless.
The down mood in the locker room was more palpable than after any loss this season. It wasn’t just the defeat, but the heartbreaking manner in which it came about.
Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson made a 60-yard catch over rookie cornerback Cre’Von
LeBlanc down to the Bears’ 14-yard line. Mason Crosby then kicked the game-winner from 32 yards out with three seconds left.
It was Jeffery’s first game back after his four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs.
The Bears went 1-3 without Jeffery as dropped passes played huge roles in losses to the Tennessee Titans and Detroit Lions, which made his suspension look worse. Jeffery said Wednesday that he felt he had let his team down.
It took Jeffery a while to make up for his absence. He didn’t make his first catch until the fourth quarter because of double teams and other looks that made quarterback Matt Barkley throw elsewhere.
But the Bears’ 17-point rally in the fourth quarter wouldn’t have happened without Jeffery. He had catches that went for 23 and 27 yards before he beat cornerback Damarious Randall on a delayed slant for an eight-yard touchdown.
“We didn’t win the game,” Jeffery said, “so it didn’t matter what I did.”
But it mattered that he mattered in it. He still needs a new contract, whether it’s from the Bears or another team.
For the Bears, the last three games remain part of an evaluation of Jeffery that has been two years in the making.
As general manager Ryan Pace said in his pregame interview with WBBM-AM (780), the team is looking for players who are “all in.” That includes Jeffery.
“With all our players, we’re looking for consistent performers,” Pace said when asked about Jeffery. “You’ve got to be reliable, you’ve got to be available and someone that can make clutch plays in clutch moments.
“He’s a very talented player, really glad to have him back. Obviously, he’s going to elevate our offense, and it’s going to be a good evaluation the next three weeks.’’
Considering his performance and postgame comments, Jeffery seems to have gotten that message.
“Just keep fighting,” Jeffery said. “It doesn’t matter what the score is. [Expletive], we’re just trying to win.”