Bernstein: Bears' choke should resonate

The Lions scored 14 points in the final three minutes to stun the Bears, 34-30, on Sunday.

(670 The Score) The measurement showed clearly that the Bears have come up short.

It wasn't just the final and ill-fated fourth-and-1 rushing attempt by David Montgomery, but so much more that is clearly just not enough, symbolized by the chains stretching well past the ball as they indicated how far the Bears are from success. It's a vast distance indeed between where they are and where they were expected to be, and now the possibility of consequences must become substantially more real.

The Bears' 34-30 loss to the Lions at home Sunday afternoon was the sixth in a row for Matt Nagy's imploding team, as what looked like a comfortable enough get-well performance was somehow allowed to devolve into a total choke -- a ghastly sequence of mistakes and mismanagement that propagated into disaster.

Despite the Bears holding a 10-point halftime lead after two uncharacteristic quarters saw them pile up 253 yards and three rushing touchdowns, the offense again failed to score in the third quarter for the 11th time in 12 games, a fact that would be impossible to imagine if it weren't so painfully true. It all seemed fine enough still, however, when Bilal Nichols intercepted a sidearm toss from Matthew Stafford to set the Bears up at the Lions' 46-yard line with 9:22 remaining in the game, with Chicago leading 30-20.

But then a Charles Leno holding penalty stalled the drive. The defense held and forced a Lions punt, but the next Bears drive ended with Mitchell Trubisky taking a sack. Pat O'Donnell then pinned the Lions on their own 4, where Detroit started a drive still down 10 points.

Got a barf bag with you?  Good.  Follow along to make sure I have this right, because I'm still dizzy from what happened thereafter.

Stafford directed a drive that ate up 96 yards in a mere 2:15, looking like Aaron Rodgers last week as he grabbed swaths of territory out of a no-huddle shotgun look, finding multiple targets under, over and around soft zone coverage until Marvin Jones Jr. was standing behind everyone in the end zone. The once-vaunted Bears pass rush is now all but nonexistent, allowing too much time for that kind of prevent strategy to succeed. It became 30-27 just that quickly and easily.

The Bears began on their own 11-yard line and too soon faced a critical third-and-4 at their own 17. The call was for Trubisky to drop back to pass and trust the pocket to hold, but Romeo Okwara broke through and knocked the ball loose. The Lions recovered on the 7, and Adrian Peterson soon punched in a score to take the four-point lead.

It was the kind of mistake that simply can't happen for the Bears, and all involved need to explain how and why it did -- the coaches who chose to make it more possible, the blockers who enabled it and the quarterback who couldn't avoid it. With that bouncing ball, so many bigger things may have also gone.

But the Bears weren't done making fools of themselves, not by a long shot. With 97 seconds remaining, a Montgomery catch-and-run of 16 yards got 15 more added after a horse-collar tackle. They worked it to the Lions' 29 with a first down and 45 seconds left. But a five-yard completion and a missed throw to the pylon meant third-and-5, and then Allen Robinson caught a pass and decided to step out of bounds a yard short instead of turning upfield. That set up the final play, that near-perfect encapsulation of the 2020 Bears as an amalgam of both bad planning and execution.

A game the Bears controlled for most of the afternoon curdled into a nightmare, and the only mystery now is the extent of the distaste and embarrassment felt at the moment by Virginia Halas McCaskey and her son, who's chairman of the board. This is six losses in a row, and they keep getting worse. Nagy is out of answers, and the cipher that is general manager Ryan Pace is out of sight if not out of mind.

Any playoff pipe dream has ended.  What else has?

Dan Bernstein is the host of the Dan Bernstein Show on middays from 9 a.m. until noon on 670 The Score. You can follow him on Twitter @Dan_Bernstein.

Featured Image Photo Credit: Mike Dinovo/USA Today Sports