The Bears blew a 16-7 lead by allowing 10 points in a 2:10 span late in the fourth quarter Sunday in a 17-16 loss to the Jaguars. Here are three things that stood out about the game:
(1) The Bears failed to finish drives as well as a game they led late, two related issues that have plagued them for much of the season.
The Bears had plenty of opportunities to put the Jaguars away, but they were forced to settle for three field goals on drives that reached the Jacksonville 18, 6 and 9. They have now scored touchdowns on just 9-of-19 trips inside-the-20 this year, including only 2-of-7 in their last two games.
Connor Barth's three field goals Sunday came after quarterback Brian Hoyer completed a 14-yard pass to Eddie Royal on third-and-17, threw incomplete behind Alshon Jeffery in the end zone on third-and-goal from the 6 and was sacked on third-and-seven from the 9.
"We've got to score (expletive) touchdowns," Jeffery said Sunday after the Bears fell to 1-5. "That's it, period. Touchdowns win games. You see what three points gets us."
Alshon Jeffery had six receptions for 90 yards in the first half of Sunday's loss.
The Bears' lack of success in the red zone has contributed to their inability to finish games. They've blown fourth-quarter leads in three of losses this year to the Texans, Colts and Jaguars. The Bears also needed to recover an onside kick to secure a 17-14 win over the Lions after allowing an 85-yard punt return touchdown and two-point conversion with 1:52 left in the game.
Sunday marked the first time the Bears have lost a game they led by at least 13 points entering the fourth quarter since Sept. 19, 1999 when the Seahawks rallied for a 14-13 win at Soldier Field.
(2) The Bears got Alshon Jeffery more involved in their offense than previous weeks, but the star receiver virtually disappeared in the second half.
After being targeted just 18 times and catching 13 passes for 193 yards in the previous three games, Jeffery had six receptions for 90 yards in the first half of Sunday's loss—more catches than he had in any of the first five games this season. His 19-yard grab set up a field goal and his 26-yarder led to the Bears' only touchdown of the day.
But Jeffery was limited to just one reception for three yards in the second half. With the game on the line late, Hoyer threw in Jeffery's direction on fourth-and-10 from the Jacksonville 48. But rookie cornerback Jalen Ramsay, the third overall pick in the draft, broke up the pass with just :57 to play.
Jeffery apparently faced more single-coverage in the first half than he did in the second.
"We did a good job of preparing a good game plan and the read dictated that Alshon was going to get the ball [if he wasn't double-teamed]," Hoyer said after the game. "I'm not going to change the way I play. I'm doing what I'm coached to do, spreading the ball around. That's the way this offense is going to be run."
(3) Aside from outside linebacker Willie Young, the Bears pass rush generated little if any pressure on Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles.
Young recorded two more sacks Sunday and now leads the Bears with six on the season. His only teammate with more than one sack this year is defensive end Akiem Hicks, who has two. Young registered two of the Bears' three quarterback hits Sunday, with outside linebacker Sam Acho being credited with the other. It's clear that the pass rush misses injured outside linebackers Pernell McPhee, Lamarr Houston and Leonard Floyd.
Needing to blitz to create pressure on Bortles, the Bears sent seven players after the Jaguars quarterback and got burned for the winning touchdown with 2:49 left in the game. Linebackers Jerrell Freeman and Christian Jones and nickel back Cre'von LeBlanc all blitzed, leaving cornerback Tracy Porter in single coverage on receiver Arrelious Benn. With no help behind him, Porter slipped on the play, enabling Benn to make a sliding catch, get back to his feet and race untouched for a 51-yard TD.