LONDON – The Bears succumbed defensively on the Oakland Raiders’ 97-yard, game-winning TD drive spanning almost six minutes and leaving them with a little less than two minutes remaining to try to mount their own final response.
The Bears’ defense also got rolled over in the first half on a 90-yard TD drive and allowed its first 100-yard rusher, rookie Josh Jacobs, in 38(!) games, a key ingredient in Oakland’s stunning 17-0 halftime advantage.
There’s also no such thing as batting 1.000 in sports, and it’s the unit that spent the better part of the first four weeks playing short-handed and channeling the ghosts of the 1985 and 2006 Bears defenses. It also lost its lynchpin up front, Akiem Hicks, who was trying to battle through a knee injury that sidelined him last week, after only eight snaps with what appears to be a dislocated left elbow.
Hear for yourself from Bears coach Matt Nagy, and we think you’ll agree where the most blame lies after a crushing 24-21 defeat to the Raiders on Sunday at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
“I think, just, we’ve done some pretty good things as a defense the first four weeks stopping the run. You’re always destined to have games like this,” Nagy said after he was asked about the deflating effect of losing Hicks. “It’s the NFL. You know, it happened, and so what I want to see happen is I want to see where when these times happen that we can do a little bit more offensively ... to be able to help that defense out after they have four pretty good games.”
The Chase Daniel-led offense was outgained in yards, 398-236, and out-possessed, 34:43-25:17. And, no, Daniel wasn’t nearly good enough in his first start of the season in place of an injured Mitch Trubisky. He tossed two second-half touchdowns to easily the Bears’ best performer on offense this season, Allen Robinson, but also threw his second interception – a third was nullified by roughing, one of countless Raiders gifts the Bears ultimately failed to accept – halting a potential game-tying or game-winning drive in the final 75 seconds on a throw that had no chance.
Yet the offensive line was worse – much worse – in surrendering four sacks against a Raiders team that entered Sunday with five combined during its 2-2 start. The offensive line returned all five starters yet has been the team’s Achilles heel and failed to create space for the Bears’ new-look and supposedly newly weaponized run game to muster anything more than 3.8 yards a carry for the fourth time in five games.
The Bears would’ve loved a 3.8-yard clip Sunday, when it actually was only 2.5 – up a measly three-tenths of a yard from last week.
“We need to figure it out because, like I said, you don’t want to be a one-dimensional team,” said left tackle Charles Leno, who was flagged twice, upping his team-high penalty total to seven – matching last season’s 16-game total of accepted infractions. “When you’re a one-dimensional team, it just [stinks].”
In fairness, the Bears’ offense is closer to dimensionless at the moment. Trubisky’s mobility that’s missing in Daniel was exploited early Sunday by the effort and intensity of the Raiders’ pass rush. No one except Robinson among the skill players has been a consistent force on a down-to-down, game-to-game basis.
Nagy said every member of his team – starting with himself – has a lot of soul-searching to do during the early Week 5 bye. It won’t resemble the Bears’ open date last season, which it rode into on the heels of a three-game winning streak after annihilating the Bucs at home, not embarrassing itself in London.
“We’re five games in; we’ll have the bye week,” said Nagy, whose Bears are 3-2 rather than winners of four straight. “But you know, for me as a head coach, that’s one part. Then I’ve got to shift and I’ve got to go to – as the offense goes. Numbers don’t lie. Not good enough. ... You put in a lot of work to be better, and we know where we’re at, and so it’s my job to make sure that it gets better, and what’s the how, what’s the why, and I believe wholeheartedly in all of our guys.
“But we need to – each person, every coach, every player, time to start looking at themselves in the mirror and figuring out why you’re out there.”
A 3-2 record hardly is a death sentence for the Bears’ centennial season, which carries serious Super Bowl aspirations that they’ve repeatedly welcomed – no matter how tough this defeat will be to swallow.
Nagy, however, after crediting the Bears’ resolve to overcome the slow start and have a chance to win late, made it pretty clear who was the tougher team – essentially the biggest surprise in a game full of them Sunday.
“I give credit to Oakland,” he said. “They came, they played hard, they played tough, and that’s what happens. When you play tough football ... you usually win games.”