Black Monday looked like this for the Bears: a 29-14 loss to the Eagles on national television — in a game that wasn’t that close — and their 11th loss in 12 tries at Soldier Field. Quarterback Jay Cutler left the game with a thumb injury in the third quarter, joining a half-dozen Bears who would not return due to injury.
Cutler’s right thumb was casted after the game, stabilized until further testing Tuesday. Nose tackle Eddie Goldman was carted off the field and later had his left ankle placed in a walking boot. Outside linebacker Lamarr Houston suffered a “substantial” knee injury, coach John Fox said, while safety Adrian Amos and cornerback Bryce Callahan left with concussions. Running back Ka’Deem Carey had a hamstring problem.
Someone asked Fox if this was as tough as it gets.
“Not as tough as last year,” he said. “We were 0-3.”
He may be again soon; the Bears have a short week to prepare for Sunday night’s game in Dallas, with or without their starting quarterback.
“A lot of times, if it was easy, anybody could do it,” Fox said. “It’s two games, and we have 14 games left.”
It could be a long season for the 0-2 Bears.
The Eagles took a 16-7 lead in the third quarter when Ryan Mathews bounced backward off a pile of Bears tackles and ran in a 3-yard touchdown. They returned to the end zone 21 seconds later. On the first play of the Bears drive, Cutler threw right — and right into the arms of Eagles outside linebacker Nigel Bradham, who returned it 28 yards to the Bears’ 2.
Cutler had hurt his thumb earlier in the game, but tried to play through it. The interception was the last straw. He finished 12-for-17 for 157 yards, one interception and three sacks.
The fans at Soldier Field booed him lustily after the interception. Amazingly, the Bears had 2,055 unused tickets for their home opener.
“Any time you lose so substantially, you definitely have a little grit,” defensive end Akiem Hicks said. “You want to get back. You’re ready to play again.”
The Bears trailed, 9-7, at halftime, but would have led if not for Connor Barth’s 31-yard miss near the end of the first quarter. When the Bears cut Robbie Gould two weeks ago, they touted the mid-range accuracy of Barth. In his first field goal attempt as a Bears player, he missed only his fifth kick from under 40 yards in 85 career attempts.
The loss — and the injuries — hung over the locker room after the game.
“That’s why we’re professionals,” said receiver Eddie Royal, who had a 65-yard punt return for a touchdown. “We train ourselves, we push ourselves to the max in the offseason for times like this. You keep pressing, keep pushing, keep fighting.
“We love ourselves too much in this locker room to not fight.”
In the next locker, Alshon Jeffery nodded his head.
“That’s right,” he said to no one in particular, trying to sound convincing.