CHICAGO (670 The Score) -- The Bears suffered another pitiful loss Sunday in an increasingly disappointing season, squandering a late lead and losing 16-13 to the Ravens.
Here are the observations from a devastating day for the Bears at Soldier Field:
Bears coach Matt Nagy struggled to explain his most perplexing decisions Sunday. Frankly, there was no defending them.
The first came on the Bears’ opening drive, which seemed to be cruising toward the end zone. But with the Bears facing a third-and-5 from the Ravens’ 16-yard line, the coaching staff called for a toss sweep play to the short side of the field. Running back David Montgomery lost six yards. The Bears had to settle for a 40-yard field-goal attempt, which kicker Cairo Santos missed.
From there, it only became more maddening to watch. The Bears were shut out in the first half, implementing another ill-fitting game plan for rookie quarterback Justin Fields and failing to sustain drives. It wasn’t until the third quarter when veteran Andy Dalton replaced the injured Fields that the Bears dialed up a screen pass, which went for a 60-yard touchdown to receiver Darnell Mooney.
Then came a disastrous fourth quarter for Nagy, one in which the Bears lost a winnable game. A key sequence came with 12:36 remaining as Dalton and Mooney just missed connecting on a third-and-1 deep shot along the sideline. The Bears ran their punt team onto the field for a fourth-and-1 at their own 49-yard line but then were indecisive and called a timeout. The offense came back onto the field and ran a wildcat play to Montgomery, who was stuffed at the line of scrimmage for a turnover on downs.
The Bears burned their second timeout with 1:48 remaining in the game on a pivotal fourth-and-6 because the play clock was running down. They came back out and 18-year veteran offensive tackle Jason Peters jumped for a false start. Dalton then hit receiver Marquise Goodwin on a fourth-and-11 heave for a 49-yard touchdown that – remarkably, after all of that – gave the Bears a 13-9 lead with 1:41 remaining.
The Bears used their final timeout after scoring that touchdown because Nagy and his staff had initially sent out the kicking team for an extra point before recognizing the better decision was to go for a two-point conversion and try for a six-point lead.
Any one of those three timeouts could've given the Bears a better chance on their final drive, which ended with Dalton being sacked and unable to throw a Hail Mary.
But at least the Bears didn’t send out Santos for a 69-yard field-goal try.
There was at least one bright spot for the Bears in this loss. That was the stellar play of linebacker Roquan Smith, who had 17 tackles.
Smith’s play came in a game the Bears played without star edge rusher Khalil Mack, defensive lineman Akiem Hicks, linebacker Danny Trevathan and safety Eddie Jackson, a quartet that makes life easier for an inside linebacker. Smith now has double-digit combined tackles in eight of his 10 games this season.
Smith, 24, has one more year remaining on his rookie contract after the Bears tendered him the fifth-year option for 2022. The team would be wise to lock him into a long-term deal this offseason. He’s going out and earning it.
Bears cornerback Kindle Vildor ranks 111th out of 118 cornerbacks in the NFL, according to grades from Pro Football Focus. He's 115th in coverage grading.
Why the Bears believed Vildor could be a starting cornerback in this league is concerning in its own right. While many contributed to the loss Sunday, Vildor’s final series defensively was incredibly costly. He committed pass interference on the Ravens’ first play of the drive with 1:28 remaining, a 21-yard penalty that got Baltimore in business.
Then came the coverage breakdown on the pass to receiver Sammy Watkins that got the Ravens in goal-to-go situation from three yards out. While it wasn't clear whether Vildor was directly responsible, he was part of the miscommunication.
Unfortunately for the Bears, there’s nobody deserving enough to replace Vildor at cornerback. They’re stuck in their current situation.
-- Immediately after the game, Nagy sounded like a broken man. He acknowledged hearing the “fire Nagy” chants from Bears fans during the final minute of regulation and is clearly feeling the pressure. He’s wearing every bit of the disappointment.
-- Goodwin shared an interesting quote when discussing the mood of his team after the loss.
“I don’t know, I don’t want to get quoted on some crazy quote, like, ‘Marquise Goodwin said it felt like this,’" he said. "But what I can kind of compare it to is like when your girlfriend breaks up with you, and you are having a good time, and she just dumps you out of nowhere. You know what I mean? You just got to bounce back. That’s the best way I can explain it.”
-- Give it up for Bears pass rusher Robert Quinn, who now has 10 sacks in nine games this season. He has been the type of disruptive presence the Bears hoped they were getting when they signed him in March 2020.
-- If the Bears are without Fields (ribs) for for an extended period, it’s going to be really challenging to watch them play.
-- It sure seemed like safety Tashaun Gipson bailed out his coaches with his big interception in the fourth quarter, as it was a turning point following the Bears' failed wildcat play call on fourth-and-1. Then the Bears quickly went three-and-out, failing to capitalize on their chance.
-- 670 The Score teammate and former Bears long snapper Patrick Mannelly tweeted it best: “Outcoached.”
-- Somehow, there are seven more games left in this season.
Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for 670TheScore.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.