(670 The Score) Unlikely though it may have been, Justin Fields and the Bears had the ball with a chance.
On their own 7-yard line and trailing by just three to the Buccaneers with 2:24 remaining in the game Sunday, all it would take would be something resembling the inspiring previous drive, an eight-play, 90-yard masterpiece that saw Fields go 6-for-6 passing and which culminated in Chase Claypool's first touchdown as a Bear. Flip the scripts, grab a win and get out of there.
But that's not happening for them, because so much is still so wrong.
Offensive coordinator Luke Getsy called for a middle screen to running back Khalil Herbert with Fields standing in his own end zone, and Tampa linebacker Shaquil Barrett read it the whole way. He dropped into coverage, picked it out of the air and shouldered in for the clinching score, singlehandedly sending another Bears season spiraling already toward familiar chaos and confusion.
The Bears' 27-17 loss dropped Matt Eberflus and his team to 0-2, with a trip to Kansas City looming. Not much is working for them, certainly nothing consistently.
Fields' eyes are all over the place under pressure, causing him to miss open receivers and look for escape lanes that are now increasingly closed down. The ball often takes too long to come out, allowing fleeting throwing windows to close. An offensive line that has seemingly been under construction forever still doesn't have a go-to play that everyone knows can work enough.
And that's why Getsy falls back on the comfort of these screen passes, used frequently enough last week that he bristled publicly at the ensuing criticism. It's going to be another week of tough questions about the game plan at Halas Hall, particularly regarding how easily Barrett accounted for tendencies, read his keys properly and won the game.
Fields was sacked six times, threw two more interceptions and fumbled twice. There's plenty of blame to be shared by all parties, but it's painfully obvious that he isn't improving quickly enough at the higher-level quarterbacking stuff: recognizing coverages pre-snap and post-snap, checking in and out of plays to fit the situation and developing a trustworthy internal clock. He may even be regressing. And left tackle Braxton Jones was overwhelmed again, spotlighting the decision to hand a starting job at a critical position to someone who also isn't getting better at it.
Nothing is helped by the Bears' defensive line, either, which needed a big game to ease the pressure on a secondary filled with replacement players. They again didn't register a single sack, with specialist Yannick Ngakoue missing on two ideal opportunities to get Baker Mayfield on the ground. Mayfield and Mike Evans carved the Bears up, with Evans responsible for 171 of the Buccanneers' 317 passing yards.
The Bear' loss to the Packers appeared to cut deeply into whatever confidence had been accrued after training camp and the preseason, with players admitting that it resonated longer and more intensely than expected. There was already soul-searching about effort and intensity from a head coach who cleaves to such traits as meaningful above all else.
Everything seems fine in Eberflus' world, however, as he seemed to have watched a different game Sunday. Perhaps this is evidence of a pivot back to rebuilding mode, already writing this season off as something less than competitive.
"I see improvement," Eberflus said. "I see improvement. It was definitely better. I see guys fighting. I see us executing at a better clip. It's a long season."
It sure is.
Dan Bernstein is the co-host of the Bernstein & Holmes Show on middays from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on 670 The Score. You can follow him on Twitter @Dan_Bernstein.