Silent Soldier Field: Sparse crowd sees Bears lose home finale

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Few fans stayed until the end of the Bears game Saturday. (Getty Images)

The Redskins were trying to bleed the clock with about a minute left in Saturday’s blowout when running back Mack Brown, who entered the game with zero career rushing yards, bounced outside and sprinted 61 yards down the left sideline for a touchdown.

“That just looks bad,” linebacker Jerrell Freeman said. “It’s like we gave up or something.”

Don’t worry — no one saw it. Only a couple thousand fans stayed inside Soldier Field to watch the end of the 41-21 loss, a fitting finish to the 3-12 Bears’ home slate.

The team said there were 18,116 unused tickets Saturday. The Bears sold 482,951 home tickets this year, their fewest for a full season since 1979.

Entering Saturday, only four teams averaged fewer fans: the Buccaneers, Lions, Chargers and Raiders.

“Protecting home-field is something that’s important to us,” said cornerback Tracy Porter, whose Bears are 4-12 at home under John Fox. “We haven’t been doing a good job of doing that last year, the last two years.

“You can say the true fans were there, the true fans stayed throughout the whole game, but it’s frustrating for those guys too. Just like it’s frustrating for us to lose, it’s frustrating for them to come to a game and watch us put out the performance that we did — not executing, turning the ball over, letting those guys run the ball, throw the ball at will. It was terrible.”

Receiver Alshon Jeffery had a more trite explanation for the attendance.

“It was tough the way it looked,” he said, “but at the same time, it was Christmas Eve.”

Redskins receiver DeSean Jackson joked afterward that Matt Barkley gave out “a lot of Christmas gifts” — five interceptions, including four in a row in the second half.

Kirk Cousins, his counterpart, didn’t need to do much, then, to beat the Bears. He threw for one touchdown and ran for two more.

Redskins backup running back Chris Thompson scored the game’s first two scores in the first quarter, running over right tackle for a seven-yard score on third-and-2 and then catching a perfectly called 17-yard screen pass against a Bears blitz to cash in on third-and-9.

The Bears scored touchdowns on their last two first-half possessions — on Jeremy Langford’s 1-yard run and Cam Meredith’s 21-yard catch — to go down 24-14 at the half. They wouldn’t score again until Deonte Thompson hauled in a 3-yarder down 20 with 1:21 left in the game.

Fox vowed the team was making progress — “Things weren’t built in a day,” he said — and said the Bears were in better position than they were two years ago, when he started.

But he said that last year, too.

“It’s disappointing to everyone, ourselves included.,” Fox said. “I feel bad for our fans — we have great fans. We have great fans here, we have great fans when we travel. They hang with us.

“Better days are to come. We see improvement. It’s not in our record but I think we are closer than people think.”

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