The Chicago Bears were seven-point favorites heading into Sunday's home tilt against the San Francisco 49ers.
Yet the Bears, as has been the case far too often this season, found a way to walk away from the game - during which they had multiple chances to pick up the victory, including a chip-shot field goal with time expiring in regulation - with another one-score loss.
The Bears fall to 5-7 on the season following the 26-20 defeat to the 49ers. It was the fourth game this year Chicago has lost by six or fewer points.
"Like any close loss like today - and we've had our share - it comes down to us making plays in every area of the game," head coach John Fox said after the game. "We just didn't make enough."
Facing San Francisco's 29th-ranked defense, Chicago's offense struggled throughout the contest, mustering just one touchdown in each half - this despite starting three drives in 49ers' territory and five outside of the Bears' 40-yard line.
"We had good field position for most of the day," quarterback Jay Cutler said. "We've got to play better offensively. That starts with me. I know for a fact we're not going to like watching the film tomorrow."
The Bears were able to control the clock, winning the time of possession battle 37:24 to 24:46, due in large part to a quality ground game that churned out 170 yards on the ground. Unfortunately for the Bears, the offense crumbled in the game's biggest moments.
Yet, despite an incosistent offensive performance, the Bears were in the driver's seat late in the game. With a tie score and just two seconds on the clock, kicker Robbie Gould yanked wide left a 36-yard field goal attempt that would have won the game. It was Gould's second missed field goal of the contest.
"I feel terrible," Gould said. "I didn't get the job done today. There's no excuse for it."
The defense didn't live up to its end of the bargain either. After the offense took a 20-13 with 3:32 left in the game, the Bears needed one defensive stop to seal the game. Instead, the 49ers drove down the field with ease, with Blaine Gabbert scoring the game-tying touchdown on a 44-yard scramble, during which he barely eluded the grasp of outside linebacker Willie Young.
"That's tough for me," Young said. "Just knowing that you were a shoestring away, and it ended up a touchdown. Any closer and I tihnk I would have had him. Great play by their quarterback."
The Bears came in to this game with a 12 percent chance of making the playoffs. Barring a miracle, today's loss effectively knocks the Bears out of the 2015 postseason.
"It's the second time we had a shot to get back to .500 and we've blown both opportunities," said Cutler. "It's a shame because we had a good shot today. Offensively, we could have played a little better. It's a great group of guys in there and we have a heck of a coaching staff. We're going to go back to work tomorrow and we're going to battle for the next game. That's all we can do."