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3 things that stood out in Week 13 loss

Posted Dec 4, 2017

Senior writer Larry Mayer identifies three things that stood out Sunday in the Bears’ loss to the 49ers, including rookie Tarik Cohen’s dynamic game-breaking ability.

The Bears lost their fifth straight game Sunday, falling to 3-9 with a 15-14 defeat to the San Francisco 49ers at Soldier Field. Here are three things that stood out in the Week 13 contest:

(1) The Bears offense continued to regress, mustering only 147 total yards and eight first downs against a porous 49ers defense.

After managing only 140 yards and eight first downs against one of the league's best defenses a week earlier in a loss to the Eagles, the Bears offense posted nearly the same numbers versus a 49ers defense that ranked 28th in the NFL, allowing an average of 374.2 yards per game.

"We just didn't execute," said quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. "We had a great week of preparation and it only means so much if you don't execute on Sundays. They did a few things we weren't expecting, but for the most part they're pretty true to what they do on defense. They did it well to allow us to be inconsistent on offense."

Trubisky was efficient in completing 12 of 15 passes for 102 yards with one touchdown, no turnovers and a 117.2 passer rating. But his only completion of more than 14 yards was a screen pass that Tarik Cohen turned into a 21-yard gain by breaking three tackles.

The Bears once again struggled to run the ball, with Jordan Howard (13 carries for 38 yards) and Cohen (2-5) combining for just 43 yards on 15 attempts, an average of 2.9 yards per carry. Producing only eight first downs, the offense ran just 36 plays in the game.

"We just didn't have the ball much," said coach John Fox. "That was part of the issue. It's hard to get into a rhythm when you're not getting that many opportunities."

(2) The Bears defense couldn't get off the field, allowing the 49ers to convert 10-of-18 third-down opportunities and hold a 38:47-21:13 advantage in time of possession.

San Francisco marched up and down the field, capping drives of 60, 66, 58, 70 and 86 yards with short Robbie Gould field goals of 33, 28, 35, 34 and 24 yards. While the defense did not allow a touchdown, its inability to stop the 49ers cost the Bears the game.

"It's a great job that we were holding them to field-goal tries," said cornerback Prince Amukamara. "But all those yards and getting them there was of course too much. And not getting off the field on third down hurt us a lot, and that was the case last week with the Eagles. We'll have to correct it."

Gould's game-winning 24-yard field goal with :04 remaining capped a 14-play, 86-yard drive that burned 5:23 off the clock. San Francisco started the possession at its own 8-yard line and picked up four first downs. The key play was a 33-yard completion from Jimmy Garoppolo to receiver Trent Taylor on third-and-eight that resulted in a first down at the Bears' 18.

On Monday, Fox blamed the defense's lack of success on third down on the inability to generate pressure on the quarterback. "Sometimes people ask me what the best pass defense is and it's a pass rush," Fox said. "There are a lot of different coverages and all those things you do. I'd say over the last couple weeks, that has probably been a little bit of our issue."

(3) Cohen continued to display the electrifying moves and big-play ability that earned him the nickname "The Human Joystick" at North Carolina A&T.

With apologies to former Bears great Devin Hester, Cohen's 61-yard punt return touchdown was simply ridiculous. The fourth-round pick covered a total of more than 120 yards on the play, running to his right, retreating 15 yards, reversing field and dashing to the end zone.

"It was designed for me to get to the left somehow," Cohen said. "So when I first got it, it was my job to set the defense up. They were really coming aggressively, so that's why I had to take it that far back to finally turn around and get back to the left side. When I got back to the left side I had all my teammates there, my blockers, to escort me to the end zone."

With the return, Cohen became the NFL's first rookie to score touchdowns on a rush, reception, pass and punt return in the same season since Bears Hall of Famer Gale Sayers in 1965.

Cohen not only produced the Bears' longest play on special teams and offense (with his 21-yard reception), but he had a 67-yard punt return and 25-yard reception nullified by penalties.