Perhaps the biggest defensive battle of the Bears season took place at Soldier Field on Sunday. Unfortunately for John Fox and Co. they were on the short end of the stick against a first-time starter at quarterback and the NFL's top defense in the Denver Broncos. Denver upended the Bears 17-15.
The Bears hung tough trailing just 10-6 at the half, but they failed to generate a touchdown score until under a minute left in the final quarter. Jeremy Langford dashed in for a late score, but then the Bears ran the same exact play on the two-point conversion that was needed to tie it at 17 apiece.
Below is a look at the final offensive play of the game for the Bears, the two-point conversion try. You can tell that Martellus Bennett thought it was a pass as well as center Hroniss Grasu, that freed up safety T.J. Ward to make the game-clinching tackle. (Photo via Kevin Fishbain of Chicago Football).
Following a head injury to running back Ka'Deem Carey in the third quarter, the Bears made their first big mistake of the day when Jay Cutler underthrew Marquess Wilson and was intercepted by linebacker Danny Trevathan. Moments later, Denver failed to score going for it 4th and 1 from the Chicago two-yard line.
The next error for the Bears came when John Fox decided to be aggressive with just over 10 minutes left in the game. Jeremy Langford ran for three yards on first down, then incompletions to Martellus Bennett (2nd down), Marquess Wilson (3rd down) and Langford (4th down) ended the Bears' drive and they came away with no points down 17-9.
The Bears' defense hung tough forcing two punts on Denver's final two drives, but the offensive drive for Cutler and Co. squeezed between the two Broncos possessions didn't go as planned. Bennett forced his third pass interference call on 2nd and 10 from the Bears' 41 and then they were set up at the Denver 33 with 2:30 left. However, Cutler was stripped and sacked by beastly linebacker Von Miller as left tackle Charles Leno Jr. was beaten badly on the play.
In the end, Denver took advantage of their opportunities and the Bears didn't. Simple and plain. Either way the three losses by the Bears over this seven game stretch (4-3) have been by a combined eight points. Fox and the coaching staff is keeping them in games until the final whistle which is a nice thing to see.
-The Bears didn't have a single penalty for the first time in 20 years. The last time that happened was at home against the Philadelphia Eagles on Dec. 24, 1995. It's an amazing feat and something that likely wouldn't haven't taken place with guard Vlad Ducasse in the starting lineup.
-Third-year wideout Marquess Wilson stepped up in a big way with four receptions for 102 yards, his first 100-yard receiving day of his career. He had only three catches for a total of 30 yards over the past three games. He had receptions of 40 yards, and two grabs of 29 yards. Wilson was targeted a team-high seven times and was Cutler's biggest deep threat with Alshon Jeffery inactive.
-Right tackle Kyle Long held his own against Von Miler and the fierce Broncos pass rush. On top of no penalties for the Bears, the offensive line was steady giving Cutler ample time in the pocket. Two sacks came on the day with the first being a coverage sack, the other was against Leno late in the game.
-The Bears' defense posted a season-high five sacks as Bruce Gaston, Willie Young, Eddie Goldman, Adrian Amos and Chris Prosinski all recorded sacks of Brock Osweiler. It was a rough day in coverage for the Vic Fangio's unit, but the line made plays for the most part.
-Jay Cutler had an up and down afternoon with his top three offensive starters out (Alshon Jeffery, Eddie Royal, Matt Forte). He completed 18-of-32 passes for 265 yards and an interception with a passer rating of 70.4. It was his second passer rating below 80 on the season and worst since Week 1 (67.5) against Green Bay. He had three scrambles for 29 yards as well.
-Outside of a two-yard touchdown run late in the game, Jeremy Langford struggled to get anything going. Langford had 42 yards on 16 touches (13 rushes, 3 receptions). He didn't find many holes against a tough Broncos front and it really plagued the Bears on third downs where they went 4-of-12.
-Safety Chris Prosinski whiffed on a tackle attempt on a Demaryius Thomas touchdown in the first quarter. The Bears were in man coverage and Shea McClellin and Christian Jones both played up leaving the middle of the field wide open. Prosinski filled in for Antrel Rolle (knee/ankle). That missed tackle resembled the likes of Chris Conte and overall it was a bumpy ride for him as he finished with six tackles.
-Outside linebacker Pernell McPhee returned after missing last week's game. However, he didn't do much at all in terms of a pass rush. McPhee had just one tackle on the day.
-The Bears' run defense knew the Broncos were going to run early and often, but they still couldn't stop them. Denver finished with 170 yards on the ground on 36 carries. Ronnie Hillman had 21 runs for 102 yards as he and C.J Anderson both broke off game-high runs of 15 yards.
Overall, it was a tough matchup going in regardless of who was under center for the Broncos. Honestly, I think Osweiler gives Denver much more life offensively and with that elite defense continuing to shine they have a chance.
The Bears blew multiple opportunities and a lack of talent especially on defense is showing up at crucial points in games.
The Bears will have to do the unimaginable and go to Green Bay on Thanksgiving/Brett Favre jersey retirement night. At 4-6, the Bears need this game bad, but it may be too much to ask.
Thoughts on the Bears' two-point loss to Denver on Sunday. Make sure to weigh in below.
Type your email address in the box and click the "create subscription" button to get all the latest Bears Backer articles sent to your inbox.