The Chicago Bears today nearly mounted a late-game comeback that would have erased a 20-point fourth quarter deficit to the Tennessee Titans.
Yet, as has been the story for most of the season, huge mistakes during the game's biggest moments resulted in a 27-21 defeat for the Bears, who drop to 2-9 on the season.
The Bears out-gained the Titans 411-375 in total yards and narrowly won the time-of-possession battle 30:35-29:25. The Bears were 9-of-17 on 3rd down attempts but just 3-of-6 in red zone efficiency, including two turnovers.
QB Matt Barkley
Barkley showed poise and composure for most of the contest, moving the ball through the air at will between the 20s. He completed 28 of 54 pass attempts for 316 yards and 3 TDs. He had two critical red-zone turnovers, which ultimately cost the Bears a victory, but Barkley was far better than expected for a quarterback making the first start of his career. That was especially so in the fourth quarter, when he was exceptional, helping engineer two straight touchdown drives, as well as what should have been a third. Barkley stood in and delivered pass after pass in the face of a Titans defense that blitzed heavily late in the game. If it weren't for the slippery hands of his receivers, Barkley would have easily led the Bears to a comeback victory.
Despite missing two Pro Bowl guards, Chicago's offensive line did not allow a single sack on Sunday. They did give up four QB hits but most of those came late in the game against Tennessee's blitz-heavy attack. Other than that, the line gave Barkley time to throw for the vast majority of the contest. In addition, Bears running backs averaged 4.9 yards per carry against the NFL's 7th-ranked run defense. It seems that no matter the personnel, Chicago's offensive line is a team strength week in and week out.
RB Jordan Howard
Howard ran the ball 18 times for 88 yards (4.7 yards per carry) and added 3 catches for 43 yards. His 131 total yards are the fifth time he's surpassed 100 yards from scrimmage this season, and the seventh time in 10 games he's had more than 92 total yards.
NT Eddie Goldman
Goldman was limited in practice this week after re-aggravating his ankle injury against the Giants and it was unclear if he'd suit up. Not only did Goldman play, but he was a key cog up front for the defense. He helped clog holes and limit Titans RB DeMarco Murray to just 43 rushing yards on 17 carries. Goldman also came up big during the team's third-quarter goal-line stand and had a crucial stop on 3rd down with 3 minutes remaining in the game to give the ball back to the offense.
WR Marquess Wilson
Wilson had the best game of his four-year career, catching 8 passes on 11 targets for 135 yards and a touchdown. He was the only consistent weapon for Barkley, who completed passes to nine different receivers on the day.
By my unofficial count, Bears pass catchers dropped 10 passes today, all of which were good passes that hit the receivers in the hands. Four of today's drops would have resulted in touchdowns, including three on the potential game-winning drive. After Marquess Wilson dropped a sure score in the back corner of the end zone, the Bears worked their into the red zone and had 1st and goal from the 7-yard line. On 1st down, Josh Bellamy was open on a hitch route but let the pass bounce off his chest. On 4th down, Barkley made a great throw under duress to Deonte Thompson on a slant along the end line. The pass was low and hit the sliding Thompson in the bread basket, yet the ball popped out and fell incomplete, finishing the game. This was an unbelievable display of poor catching, which ended up costing the Bears their third victory of the season.
OLBs Willie Young and Pernell McPhee
The Bears not only failed to sack Titans QB Marcus Mariota, they didn't even register a single QB hit. With Leonard Floyd on the shelf, the pass-rush onus was on edge rushers Young and McPhee, who were invisible the entire game. Young, who has just 0.5 sacks in his last five games combined, was also shaky against the run, giving up the edge on a number of plays.
S Adrian Amos
Amos was worked over in the first half by Tennessee TE Delanie Walker, who finished the game with 3 catches for 50 yards and 1 TD. Amos also missed a pair of tackles and was beat over the top on WR Rishard Matthews' 29-yard TD catch. Amos has taken a step backward in his second season and has gotten worse as the season has progressed.
C Cody Whitehair
Whitehair was solid up front, as usual, but had two costly mistakes. He was called for holding in the 4th quarter, which took a first down off the board. He then had a high snap on 3rd down that went over Barkley's head and ended a 3rd-quarter drive.