‘We know who we are’: Bears say upset loss to Giants wasn’t defining
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The loss Sunday hurt. Someday, it might hurt again.
There’s a world — four weeks from now — in which the Bears might kick themselves for falling to a 3-8 Giants team. If the Saints and Rams somehow play losing football in December — and the 8-4 Bears can help that cause when they play the Rams on Sunday at Soldier Field — they might regret a loss that cost them a first-round playoff bye.
If the 6-5-1 Vikings get hot, the Bears might wish they had breathing room to secure the NFC North title and its accompanying home playoff game.
Odds are, though, that the overtime loss to the Giants wasn’t cataclysmic. The Rams have lost three fewer games than the Bears and the Saints two fewer with four games to play. It might not cost the Bears in the division, either. All three of the other NFC North teams lost Sunday, and the 4-7-1 Packers fired coach Mike McCarthy.
Before the loss, Football Outsiders said the Bears had a 97.2 percent chance of making the playoffs. After the loss, they had a 95.4 percent chance.
Sunday was damning but not decisive. At least not yet. And that’s a different feeling than in recent seasons at Halas Hall, where December losses were merely another shovel of dirt on the season.
Coach Matt Nagy said Monday he feels no different about his team than he did a day earlier.
‘‘It can be frustrating because you’re in the element — your emotions get going and all that,’’ he said. ‘‘And then you step back, you watch the tape, you see everything and you’re thankful for where you’re at. You’re thankful for where this team has come to.’’
‘‘I appreciate all the hard work that our guys have put into this season,’’ he said. ‘‘Every single game is a big one. And here it comes. Here’s yet another one [Sunday]. So another challenge for us. We have grown men. We have leaders. We have guys that will be up for this challenge.
‘‘I have zero concern at all, regardless. I’m talking about the rest of the year. I have zero concern with how this team will react.’’
All four of the Bears’ losses have been decided in the final 1:06. That’s when quarterback Mitch Trubisky was sacked on fourth down with the Bears down by a point to the Packers in the opener. Kevin White’s last-second Hail Mary catch fell a yard short in the loss to the Patriots, and Sunday marked the second time the Bears lost on an overtime field goal.
Still, Nagy said there might be value in the way the Bears lost. They tallied 10 points in the final 1:13 of regulation, thanks in part to a recovered onside kick, and scored on the final play to force overtime.
‘‘There were a lot of people that I think would check the box and say, ‘The game was over,’ ’’ Nagy said. ‘‘And our guys didn’t do that. So you can always know that even with 1:50 to go, down 10, you have a chance.’’
The Bears knew that already.
‘‘That’s our DNA,’’ left tackle Charles Leno Jr. said. ‘‘I can go back to every game we lost. We’re gonna fight to the end.’’
The other lesson, Nagy said, speaks to the parity in the league. Five teams with worse records won Sunday, including the Cardinals — who beat the Packers — and Giants.
‘‘And so every game, it doesn’t matter who you’re playing, you’d better bring it,’’ Nagy said.
The Bears know they have to do that against the Rams.
‘‘Half the guys in this room don’t even like to lose at checkers,’’ defensive end Akiem Hicks said. ‘‘But what I will say is this: We know who we are. We know what level we can play at. And we are going to come out next Sunday and do what we do.’’