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Playing for Matt Nagy’s honor, Bears ‘embarrassed’ by Chiefs

“You play games like that on TV, prime-time, ultimately you want to go out and ball — especially at home,” outside linebacker Khalil Mack said. “Embarrassing to us. Embarrassed our fans. Ultimately, that’s unacceptable.”

Kansas City Chiefs v Chicago Bears
Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce scores a touchdown in the second quarter against the Bears on Sunday night.
Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Even when the Bears’ performance has dictated otherwise — and particularly when it has — coach Matt Nagy has defended his players this season. He refused to publicly trash quarterback Mitch Trubisky when it was warranted, or kicker Eddy Pineiro when he missed, or the defense when it made a rare misstep.

In return, Nagy’s players needed to stick up for him Sunday night when he faced best friend Andy Reid, former quarterback pupil Patrick Mahomes and his former employer, the Chiefs, in an otherwise meaningless game.

Instead, they lost 26-3 — the largest margin of defeat in Nagy’s head-coaching career.

“You play games like that on TV, prime-time, ultimately you want to go out and ball — especially at home,” linebacker Khalil Mack said. “Embarrassing to us. Embarrassed our fans. Ultimately, that’s unacceptable.”

Nagy has been lauded, even in the team’s worst moments, for keeping his locker room engaged. But he had the carrot — or the cudgel — of a playoff berth. For the first time in two seasons, he didn’t Sunday. The Bears were eliminated from contention a week ago.

“You can feel the difference, just the scenario you’re in,” Nagy said.

Sunday night was symbolic for him, whether he’d admit it or not.

“We need no explanation to know how he feels about the game,” Mack said. “That’s one of the most disappointing things about the whole thing.”

Cornerback Prince Amukamara said it was natural for this game to feel special to Nagy. He could tell his coach was juiced.

“That’s why we have his back,” Amukamara said. “Unfortunately it didn’t look like it.”

When the public-address announcer at Soldier Field urged fans to wave their giveaway white towels in the fourth quarter, it seemed an apt request. It was impossible to separate effort from skill level because the Bears were so deficient in both.

Nagy wouldn’t question his players’ effort but said the team didn’t have focus.

“That’s all of us, coaches and players,” he said. “If there’s not focus, then there’s some sloppiness.”

The Bears entered the game outclassed and outmanned, and did little to change the narrative — or spare their coach criticism. Nagy deserves blame for the Bears’ mess of a season. His offense never developed an identity — or a run game — and his quarterback slid backward. His play-calling, which was at times magical last season, has been ineffective — and boring — all year.

Sloppy, too. The Bears were flagged for two illegal shifts on the last three plays of the second quarter Sunday. The second forced a 10-second runoff that ended the half.

Fans booed as the Bears ran to the locker room, just as they did in the home opener.

The Bears scored three points, as they did in the opener.

Nagy was shut out in the first half for the fourth time this season. The Bears went to halftime without a first-half offensive touchdown for the 10th time in 15 games.

The vaunted defense looked helpless against Mahomes, whom the Bears notoriously passed on when they traded up to draft Trubisky in 2017. He led the Chiefs to scores on all three of their first-half possessions.

On their first drive, the Chiefs converted third-and-10, third-and-18, third-and-four when Aaron Lynch jumped offside and third-and-five when Mahomes scrambled 12 yards untouched for a touchdown.

They finished their second drive with a 56-yard field goal by Harrison Butker. The Bears have made two longer kicks, ever, at Soldier Field.

The Chiefs drove 95 yards for their second touchdown, but only after the Bears ran into the punter on fourth-and-four. The culprit: linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis, who made the same error when the trailing Raiders tried to punt with six minutes to play in Week 5. After that flag, the Raiders faked a punt and drove to win the game.

“I can see how he thought the focus wasn’t there, just simply because how we were shooting ourselves in the foot,” Amukamara said of Nagy. “Jumping offside, running into the punter and stuff like that. You can’t do that against great teams.”

The Bears will face one more — the host Vikings — before the season comes to a merciful close. Amukamara wants a win for Nagy.

“As a team, we want that for our coach,” he said. “Obviously, we’re not good enough. We know that ownership and management are looking for the right personnel. Guys know they have to give it their best because they’re being evaluated extremely hard these last few games.”