The frustration for the Bears had to be the way so many things came together exactly the way they wanted and needed Sunday, and yet they still lost 17-16 to the Los Angeles Chargers.
They ran it, finally. They ran it a lot, actually, a season-high 38 times. They were able to control the clock for 38 minutes. No team should lose a game when they have the ball so long.
Mitchell Trubisky did drive them into position to win it even if his fumble gave the Chargers a short field for the winning points.
And the defense pulled together and looked much like it did early in the season before getting force-fed footballs in London by the Raiders.
And then they lose because of the problem they thought they had solved when Eddy Pineiro made a 53-yard field goal earlier this season for a win.
Kickers don't make every game-winning kick, but Pineiro's 41-yard miss brought back bad memories and made the Bears losers on the season at 3-4, with playoff chances growing more remote by the moment. Sunday's report card:
The 27 runs by David Montgomery were the most by a Bear since Oct. 15, 2017 when Jordan Howard ran 36 times in an overtime win over Baltimore. Even Trubisky got in on the running attack with an 11-yarder for what looked like the play to set up the winning points. All of this has to be tempered by the fact it came against a mediocre run defense that didn't even have its top two defensive tackles. Can they get the same kind of results in the future? That doesn't affect today's grades. Only a couple of false starts and a hold by guard Rashaad Coward marred this effort by the offensive line. Grade: A -
Mitchell Trubisky's passing inched along again at 5.8 yards per attempt. The Chargers came in with the fifth-ranked pass defense, so Trubisky's inability to get the ball downfield consistently shouldn't be too surprising. And he did spread the ball around more in this game than in recent games with six players getting two receptions and five getting three or more. Allen Robinson had the most with five, but Taylor Gabriel was right behind. Still, Trubisky made the two big mistakes in the fourth quarter to nearly take them out of a chance at the win, then did drive them downfield into position to win. Grade: D+
The Chargers looked like the Bears normally do. They stopped trying to run and 11 attempts only netted them 36 yards. It's kind of ironic actually. The Bears were lambasted for not running enough, then they were beaten by a team that didn't run enough. Roquan Smith played a solid, physical game and had five tackles, Danny Trevathan was at six tackles and Roy Robertson-Harris and Nick Williams stood their ground against the run. Khalil Mack stood out in every phase in this one, including the run with five tackles. Grade: A
The Bears started getting heat off the edge in the pass rush later in the game when they needed it. Mack made a sack and reserve Aaron Lynch had three hits on Rivers. The Bears held Rivers to a season-low 201 yards passing. This was a passing attack ranked third in the league coming into the game. Kyle Fuller had his third interception of the season and the Chargers converted just 20 percent of third-down plays into first downs (2-of-10) while netting a season-low 11 first downs. A few spot plays here and there kept it from being a Grade-A performance. Grade: B+
Eddy Pineiro had his first horrible day as a kicker. The three field goals he made were less than chip shots. His two misses weren't even difficult kicks, a 33-yarder off the upright and the game-deciding missed 41-yarder. Pineiro seemed overly concerned with the wind, which was 10-12 mph. The Bears seemed overly aggressive with their kick returns and averaged only their 21 for a starting point on kicks. Grade: D+
Matt Nagy stuck to the run even more than anyone could have imagined. The use of the I-formation with J.P. Holtz blocking out of the fullback spot turned back the calendar to the days of Matt Suhey and Walter Payton, and worked for a while until the Chargers adjusted. The biggest questions Nagy had to answer were why Montgomery didn't get it enough during the goal-line problems in the first half. When the Bears had first-and-goal at the 4 in the second quarter, Montgomery didn't get a carry and they kicked a field goal. Red-zone plays in the first half in general were questionable. They went away from what had been working. In the third quarter, they gave it to Montgomery inside the 5 and got a touchdown. Also, Nagy's decision to down the ball a few yards back on first down for a second-down field goal of 41 yards was something Marc Trestman would have done, and did at Minnesota in 2014. Chuck Pagano's game plan kept Rivers off balance and from making those anticipatory throws he specializes at for most of the game. Grade: C-
It's that kind of season for the Bears when they seem to get it solved and can't make a 41-yard field goal. There are high school kids all over the north suburbs who could have made that kick.