Bears Give Game Away to Chargers on Pineiro Miss

The 41-yard field goal by Eddy Pineiro didn't hit the left upright and crossbar like last year's playoff game, but the pain was similar as a missed kick as time expired resulted in a 17-16 loss to the Chargers.
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The Bears seemed to try their best to give away a game that was theirs for the taking all day Sunday at Soldier Field, yet the Los Angeles Chargers refused to cooperate.

Finally, the Bears succeeded. They gave it away in a fashion they seem to have the patent on these days.

Eddy Pineiro missed a 41-yard field goal wide left as time expired and the Bears had lost their third straight, 17-16.

"I tried to hit the ball the best I could and play the wind a little bit but it just didn't work out," Pineiro said. "It's a bad feeling. I lost the game for the team. I put that one on me. I have to bounce back."

Pineiro also doinked one off the right upright from 33 yards earlier in the game in Cody Parkey fashion, but none of the Bears wanted to hear those 2018 comparisons in their somber locker room.

"I'm not going to try and draw on past experiences and everything that happened last year," quarterback Mitchell Trubisky said. "Obviously this is a different team. 

"We're going on a different path, a different journey than what was going on last year."

On that, Trubisky would find few who disagree. 

At 3-4, the Bears don't appear capable of getting back to the playoffs now with this offense.

They did finally start running the ball, with David Montgomery gaining 135 yards on 27 carries, including a 55-yarder that was their first one over 50 yards since 2017. He had a 4-yard TD run in the third quarter to put the Bears up 16-7.

However, the Bears had five possessions in the red zone overall, and got into the end zone just on the 4-yard run. Pineiro made field goals of 22, 25 and 19 yards when first-half drives died near the goal line. And the 33-yarder was also a red zone excursion. In the end those missed points on kicks and blown opportunities at the goal line proved huge.

"I think there's a play or two where I think we want back," coach Matt Nagy said. "I'm not going to get into that. But we've got to be better. Our defense, to play the way they did, we moved the ball finally down into that area and we feel so confident when we get into that red zone that we're going to strike, that we're going to get a touchdown.

"So that was a little for us I felt out of the ordinary to have that many opportunities."

The defense did surrender the nine-point lead, but only under duress. They held the Chargers out of the end zone on a 73-yard drive and forced a 20-yard Chase McLaughlin field goal.

Then Trubisky, who went 23 of 35 for 253 yards, threw a fourth-quarter interception Casey Hawyard returned 37 yards to the 20, but McLaughlin missed a 42-yard field goal.

Trubisky then promptly fumbled on what went down as a sack but he wasn't tackled on the play. It gave the Chargers another shot at the Chicago 28, and this time Philip Rivers, who was held to 19 of 29 for 209 yards, threw an 11-yard TD pass to Austin Ekeler after a Leonard Floyd facemask penalty moved them closer.

Trubisky credited Hayward with making a good play by coming off his coverage on the interception, but the fumble was all Mitchell.

"I've got to have two hands on the ball," Trubisky said. "When I'm leaving the pocket, when we're moving the pocket, I put my hand down, one second I had it then I didn't. I've got to go back and watch it. I didn't really get a clear look at it. But I've got to have two hands on the ball."

Trubisky did move the Bears back into position to win it, finally looking like his old self with an 11-yard scramble to the 20. 

But then instead of running it more, Nagy decided to have the ball downed for a loss and try the field goal from farther back on second down with a decision reminiscent of Robbie Gould's missed 47-yarder against Minnesota in 2013 under Marc Trestman.

The missed field goal ruined that strategy.

"I have zero thought of running the ball and taking the chance of fumbling the football," Nagy said.

So, the Bears wanted to run going into the game, finally ran, and at the end of the game they chose not to run.

This logic and the missed field goal couldn't have summed up the Bears' day better.

"It stinks to lose like that," Trubisky said. "But we battled, we stuck together in the end, and we win as a team, we lose as a team. But the most important thing is we just stay positive and go from here and stick together."

After falling into last place in the NFC North, the staying positive part is the toughest.

Twitter@BearsOnMaven