The Chicago Bears ended up losing their second game of the year to the Houston Texans 13-6. The game played out rather similar to the Week-2 loss against the Green Bay Packers, in which the Bears failed to capitalize in key situations. The phrase I've repeated a number of times since the loss has been "missed opportunities."
The Bears had plenty of chances to win this game. Even with Jason Campbell in as the quarterback in the second half, the Bears missed on plays that could have potentially won the game. It was a game heavily affected by the down pouring of rain, especially on the turn where players had terrible trouble trying to establish their footing. It was sloppy, and only a string of drives on both sides produced points. It was turnover infested game, and the Bears missed a chance to prove themselves on national television.
The Bears took their shots on offense and nearly won the game. But ultimately, it was decided by the Bears’ inability to score a touchdown or make a play in the Red Zone. The first play to point out was the Brandon Marshall dropped touchdown. As I eluded to, this game reminded me a lot of the Green Bay game, in which Marshall dropped an easy touchdown pass that could have turn the tide in that contest. Same situation here in which Marshall beat Joseph down the field and basically mishandled the pass. It would have given the Bears a 7-3 lead, and in a game like that, they could have possibly sustained it.
The next point is the simple fact that the Bears got down early due to ill-advised turnovers. We have naturally become accustomed to Kellen Davis making mistakes, but Michael Bush also fumbled after a picking up a key first down. Cutler also threw into double-coverage on just an awful read and got picked off by Daniel Manning. The second was an intelligent play by Kareem Jackson to break off his coverage and put two bodies near Marshall. Jackson played right into what Wade Phillips was calling for, which was keying in on Brandon.
The final point is the fact that the Bears failed to put points on the board; and that's with a decent amount of opportunities to score. The Bears started with fantastic field position and were terrible on third down (15% conversion rate), which cost them.
But even when the Bears managed to get into the Red Zone, the play calling was bad and they failed to score. The inefficiency in the Red Zone has gone unnoticed because of the 7-1 record, but against another good defense it was apparent. The other mistake was Robbie Gould's miss on the left upright that would have made it one-point game. That miss forced a struggling offense into scoring a touchdown when it was nearly impossible for them to move the ball down the field.
Other than that, the Bears had false start, holding penalties and other minor mistakes that kept them from winning this game. The offensive line gave up no sacks to one of the most efficient lines in the game, and the Bears failed to do any damage throwing the ball. It's also ironic considering this is the one game Cutler suffers a concussion.
Bears still need to make progress
The Bears lost a game at home they were more than capable of winning. In fact, they outgained the Texans in yards and mostly held an accomplished Texans offense in check. Despite the one good drive, where Arian Foster and the running game got the necessary lanes, the Bears’ defense was very good.
The offense still has a lot of work to do from week to week, and now they need to have Cutler heal back to full-strength. The line showed progress, and the defense was stout which gives the Bears something to build on going forward into San Francisco. The potential is there, and the Bears need to start piecing together a winning formula on offense as they've done the last two seasons.
They can't rely on a defensive touchdown every game; the offense is going to have to starting carrying its weight. In the two losses, the Bears can basically point to Mike Tice and the offensive production for the blame. The defense plays a massive amount of snaps because of the offense’s inability to sustain drives, and no defense can endure for an entire game without giving up some leeway.
Chicago played a sloppy game, in rainy conditions, on unstable turf. It's one loss, and coming off that long winning streak it's tough to finally get one. The Bears still have the time, players and coaches to fix their problems moving forward. At 7-2 they are still sitting pretty atop the NFC North and only a game behind the 8-1 Atlanta Falcons. But it was still a blown opportunity to say something about how far this team has come.