The Bears failed to overcome several self-inflicted wounds Sunday in a disappointing 23-16 loss to the Green Bay Packers. Here are three things that stood out in the Week 10 defeat:
(1) The key play in the game at rainy Soldier Field was the Bears' replay challenge that turned a near touchdown into a turnover and touchback.
With the Bears trailing 10-3 in the second quarter, Benny Cunningham caught a screen pass on third-and-13 from the Green Bay 25 and weaved through defenders before eventually diving for the pylon. Cunningham was ruled out of bounds at the 2. The Bears challenged the call, believing that the running back had touched the ball to the pylon before his knee landed out of bounds. But after a replay review, referee Tony Corrente ruled that Cunningham had lost the ball an instant before it touched the pylon, and the Packers were awarded a touchback.
Asked about the play Monday, coach John Fox said: "It's a good question, a fair question. Unfortunately, I can't really respond exactly how I would like to. Obviously in those situations, hindsight is 20/20. I probably would not challenge that if I were given the opportunity again, and we'll leave it at that."
Fox said Sunday that he challenged the play because "every indication we had was that he scored." Asked what his assistants in a coaches' booth were communicating to him before he threw the challenge flag, the Bears coach said: "They saw it pretty much how I thought I saw it. We'll leave it at that. We have to ultimately kind of go with what the officiating crew goes with. In hindsight, I would have not challenged it because it took points—however many points we don't know—but in my opinion it hurt our cause."
(2) Reverting to a problem that plagued them early in the season, the Bears committed too many penalties to give them a realistic chance to win.
The red (challenge) flag hurt the Bears, but the barrage of yellow ones didn't exactly help their cause. The Bears drew 11 penalties—seven of which were accepted—in the first half alone. The offense was the main culprit, committing two penalties on its first possession of the game and three more on its second drive.
Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky blamed the rash of penalties on "a lack of focus," saying: "It seemed uncharacteristic for us because we were in and ready to go. I guess we weren't focused at that moment. We're going to analyze that because we know it's one of our weaknesses. We're only hurting ourselves. It's nothing they're doing schematically; it's just everyone has to lock in, do our jobs and get better."
The Bears drew only one penalty in the second half, but that infraction was for delay of game on an extra point attempt following Trubisky's 46-yard touchdown pass to receiver Joshua Bellamy.
The penalties contributed to the Bears being limited to a 29 percent success rate on third downs (4-of-14). "Was it a real clean game? No," Fox said. "It created some behind-the-sticks series and that was a factor, especially on our third-down conversation ratio."
Fox agreed that a lack of focus was an issue, but there were other factors involved as well. "There no doubt about that," he said. "But there were some new people out there. It's not an excuse; it's just a reality."
(3) The Packers didn't need the injured Rodgers to maintain their dominance over the Bears, especially at Soldier Field, in what has been a one-sided rivalry.
Perhaps the most demoralizing aspect of Sunday's game for the Bears was that they didn't lose to a future Hall of Famer such as Brett Favre or Rodgers but to an inexperienced quarterback in Brett Hundley who was making only his fourth NFL start. Hundley deserves credit for his performance—he threw for 212 yards with one touchdown and a 110.8 passer rating—but he obviously is not one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history like his two predecessors.
The Bears have now lost their last eight games to the Packers at Soldier Field beginning with the 2010 NFC Championship Game and are 4-21 at home versus Green Bay since 1994, a streak that began with 11 consecutive losses from 1994-2004. Sunday marked the first time the Bears have lost to a Packers quarterback not named Favre or Rodgers since Don Majkowski in 1989.