Finding a reason to keep playing with playoffs only a mathematical Bears possibility and a real life improbability is not difficult for running back David Montgomery.
On Sunday Montgomery produced in the running game and saw the Bears still fall 33-22, leaving them saddled with a 4-8 record and staring a meaningless season in the face.
"The entire season has kind of been frustrating with the losses we've taken," Montgomery said. "But I'm a fighter. I'm never gonna stop fighting. I'm not gonna stop giving it everything I've got, along with the guys in this locker room as well.
"We've just got to keep churning."
Without a realistic playoff shot and two games behind now, the Bears look more like they're flailing than churning. They're talking a good game but doing this while they are simply playing for respect will be more difficult.
Still, if anyone is capable of fighting the good fight it is Montgomery. He ran for 90 yards on 21 carries, and the running attack functioned as they wanted. It would have allowed them the ball control necessary to beat a team like Arizona, but their passing game betrayed them.
Montgomery had a part in the passing attack, too, with a season highs of eight receptions and 51 yards. He scored one TD on a 1-yard run to get them withi 14-7.
"I thought it was great to get David going," coach Matt Nagy said. "That was an emphasis for us. We thought that being able to come in and get him going a little bit more this game, be it the run and the pass.
"He had some good targets and they did a good job checking it down when we had him or throwing it to the flat. I thought he ran hard. David was motivated after the Detroit game. He wanted to be able to really get back. He's hard on himself. But to have 21 carries and average 4.3 yards per rush, that was good for the offensive line."
Nagy had some of the frustration Montgomery had.
"Again, what's tough is that you look back and you say, dang, man, you look at how, at the end of the game, how things went, how the game went against this offense and in general with the team in general, with the team being able to have the time of possession, being able to be 3-for-3 in the red zone, 4-for-4 on fourth down, those turnovers got us."
If finding incentive for the remaining five games is difficult for some, they only need to listen to Montgomery.
"Throughout the entirety of my life, I've dreamed of getting to this level of playing football," Montgomery said. "I've dreamed of getting to the level to where I can say I'm a professional athlete in the NFL. And I'm here. And as you learn you get to the NFL, it's all predicated off wins and losses. But in the midst of it you tend to forget why you do what you do. You forget who you do it for. A lot of times you’ve got to take a step back and understand that I was a little kid playing this game. I started playing this game when I was a little kid. And you’ve got to get back to the basics of just having fun with it."
The NFL is not an entitlement, Montgomery reminded. Some seem to be buying this approach. Roquan Smith was one, as he shrugged off a pulled hamstring suffered 10 days earlier, started and made a team-high eight tackles.
"Even when it's dark or as as dark as it may seem or as it may be, you've still got to understand that it's still a game," Montgomery said. "You're still meant to have fun. And everybody in the world doesn't get to do this. You've got to take advantage of it and you've got to enjoy it while you've got it. Because it's not forever."
If they just listen to Montgomery, they'll be fine regardless of where the end of this season takes the franchise in terms of the coaching or personnel department.