Rookie quarterback Matt Barkley gave it his all in his first NFL start on Sunday but the Chicago Bears fell short against the Tennessee Titans.
Despite falling behind by 20 points at halftime, Barkley came out in the second half and turned in an impressive performance.
The Bears lost the game after a turning it over on downs in the final minute as they mounted a drive inside the Titans 10-yard line. On that drive, Bears receivers dropped two passes in the end zone, which would have tied the game and then the chance to take the lead with an extra point.
The biggest one came from Joshua Bellamy who had a ball hit his hands on first and goal as he stood wide open in the end zone.
“I just have to focus more,” Bellamy said. “Look it in and catch the ball. I just missed the opportunity.”
Despite the drop, the Bears still had three more downs to reach the end zone. On fourth and goal, receiver Deonte Thompson had a ball hit him in the hands as he was diving to the ground, yet he couldn't bring in the pass.
The drop resulted in an incomplete pass and the Bears officially moved to 2-9 on the season.
“I should have had it,” Thompson said. “I gotta make that play. By the time I turned in, the ball was already there. I gotta make that.”
Earlier in the fourth quarter, receiver Marquess Wilson dropped a touchdown pass on a beautiful over-the-top throw from Barkley. The Bears would go on to score a touchdown on that drive when Barkley found Thompson in the end zone.
Wilson was playing in his second game back after being activated off Injured Reserve prior to the Bears loss in Week 11. He finished with 8 receptions for 135 yards and a touchdown.
“We just have to focus better,” Wilson said. “I had a couple of drops, and I just have to focus more. We just have to build off of it. I’ll just have to come in early tomorrow and just work on it.”
The drops were a common theme among the receiving core on Sunday as they dropped a total of 10 passes. Against the New York Giants in Week 11, the Bears dropped five passes, giving them a total of 15 in the last two games according to Pro Football Focus.
But the three drops in the end zone were the most damaging, as the Bears fell six points short of their third win of the season.
Barkley threw two interceptions in the game, both of which came in the red zone But after that, he settled down and had the Bears on the comeback trail.
“He was very impressive,” said, Cameron Meredith who had a pair of drops himself. “The speed of the game didn’t slow down at all. He came out prepared. He put the ball in the right places. We just have to come out and make some better plays next week.”
Barkley was without the Bears top two receivers on the depth chart entering the season, with Alshon Jeffery serving a suspension and Kevin White on IR.
Yet, Barkley turned in a nice performance with 316 passing yards and three TDs in his first NFL start. But even with those stats, he knows how much this one hurt.
“I figured that we had a chance to score and when situations like that come up — we’ve been repping plays like that for so long it’s hard to see those not work,” Barkley said. “Just like during the game when there were opportunities in the red zone that didn’t go our way, those ones hurt because you’ve repped those plays and things don’t go right and you just got to eat those.”