Bears’ defense shows up late to the party in bad loss to Raiders
If jet lag was a factor in the 24-21 loss, then shame on Bears coach Matt Nagy, who opted to have his team arrive in London on Friday.
What’s the British term for butt? Is it arse? Bum?
Whatever it is, Bears defensive players got theirs kicked Sunday in London.
No one would have been surprised if backup quarterback Chase Daniel had ended up being the bad guy in the loss to the Raiders. That would have been understandable. Poor guy out of his element, bright lights affecting his eyesight, etc. But the Bears’ vaunted defense giving up 24 points to an unremarkable Oakland offense? Unthinkable, right?
If jet lag was a factor in the 24-21 loss, then shame on coach Matt Nagy, who opted to have his team arrive in London on Friday, four days after the Raiders did.
But if the issue is that the Bears’ defense isn’t the Best the World Has Ever Seen, a moniker we’ve bestowed on that unit too many times to count, then perhaps the team has a bigger problem on its hands than the effects of transoceanic flight on the human body. If the defense can’t leap tall buildings in a single bound and beat other NFL franchises all by itself, it doesn’t matter who the Bears quarterback is.
“Had nothing to do with when we came here and when we didn’t,’’ Nagy said of the loss. “It’s about playing football.’’
It’s simple: It was supposed to be a Chicago day in jolly, old England. There was no need for a royal coronation. The Bears already were wearing crowns. Funny thing about crowns, though. They’re not glued to heads.
The Bears found that out the first time Oakland ran the ball down their throats, which was about a minute into the game. When the Bears crawled to the locker room, they trailed 17-0, and crowns littered the field.
There was terrible tackling, and there was no tackling. There were missed assignments and blown coverages. There was a rookie running back, the Raiders’ Josh Jacobs, rushing for 123 yards and two touchdowns. Defenders looked tired — not the first time that has happened this season. Linebacker Khalil Mack is great, but he once again spent time on the sideline, apparently so he could have some recovery time. The Bears certainly did get the better of the trade that brought the sack machine from Oakland to Chicago last year, but the storyline where Mack was going to make his old team pay? It ended up on the cutting-room floor.
The Bears came back in the second half, thanks to a bungled pitch that led to a Mack fumble recovery, some excellent throws by Daniel, a 71-yard punt return by Tarik Cohen and a beautifully violent forced fumble by Sherrick McManis at the Bears’ 1-yard line. Whatever had caused their earlier doldrums — a lack of sleep, too many pints the night before or the very existence of soccer — disappeared after halftime.
You couldn’t help but believe in the power of momentum after Cohen’s long punt return in the third quarter, which led to Daniel’s 16-yard touchdown pass to Allen Robinson. Three touchdowns in one quarter by Daniel and the offense should be more than enough for a defense as good as the Bears’, yes?
The Bears’ Kevin Pierre-Louis was called for running into the Raiders’ punter late in the fourth quarter, which allowed Oakland to run a successful fake punt on fourth-and-one on the next play. That led to another Raiders touchdown and a 24-21 lead. Oakland went 97 yards on that drive. Before Sunday, it never would have occurred to me that any team could do that against the Bears. And especially any team named the Raiders with a quarterback named Derek Carr.
But it happened, of course.
Daniel finished 22-for-30 for 231 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions for an 89.7 passer rating. His second pick, a throw apparently meant for one of three Raiders defenders or, vaguely, wide receiver Anthony Miller, finally did in the Bears late in the fourth quarter. They had been driving toward a field-goal attempt and a tie, at a minimum.
“It’s completely on me,’’ Daniel said of the throw. “Yeah, I mean, there’s no excuses for it. You’re 16, 17 yards away with a chance to tie the game and send it to overtime, and I like our chances.’’
Still, if somebody had handed you Daniel’s final numbers before the game, you probably would have taken them. And you probably would have thought the Bears would come out the winner.
But that was predicated on their defense being its normal, excellent self. The Raiders knocked defensive lineman Akiem Hicks out of the game with an elbow injury on the eighth play, but the 3-2 Bears can’t use that as an excuse. They beat the Vikings last week without Hicks and linebacker Roquan Smith.
No, there are no excuses for how the Raiders’ offense manhandled the Bears’ defense. Just a lot of bewildered headshaking.