The Bears were outplayed by a wide margin on both sides of the ball Sunday in a 26-3 loss to the Chiefs. Here are three things that stood out in the game:
(1) As has been the case most of the season, the Bears offense struggled scoring points and sustaining drives.
The Bears mustered just one field goal and were held without a touchdown on eight possessions by a good-but-not-great defense. The Chiefs entered the Week 16 contest at Soldier Field allowing an average of 20.3 points per game.
The offense has stumbled out of the gate all season, and that was the case again Sunday night. On the game's opening possession, the Bears picked up two first downs, reaching the 50 on Mitchell Trubisky's 8-yard scramble on third-and-five. But on the next play, Anthony Miller fumbled a pitch on a reverse, recovering the loose ball for a 10-yard loss.
The Bears never recovered from the miscue and were eventually forced to punt. They went three-and-out on their next possession, failing to score in the first quarter for the eighth time in their last nine games.
"What we were doing early on in the season is not starting fast," coach Matt Nagy said Monday. "It was usually a penalty or it was a negative play. Well, we had that yesterday offensively. So those are the ones, those are the things that we've really got to lock in on."
The Bears turned the ball over on downs on their only red-zone possession of the game, failing to score on four plays after having first-and-goal from the 5. Another play that epitomized the season came early in the second quarter when Trubisky overshot receiver Allen Robinson on what could have been a 46-yard touchdown pass.
"The lesson is that you want to hit 'em," Nagy said. "I know it's simple. I'm just saying when you get opportunities in a game, those are ones there where we all want to do our job to do that. It's not a criticism. It's just that's where we're at. It just feels like for whatever reason this year we haven't connected on those types of plays."
(2) The Bears defense provided little resistance to an explosive Chiefs offense and again failed to produce any impact plays.
Kansas City scored two touchdowns and one field goal on its three first-half possessions to take a comfortable 17-0 halftime lead. On the Chiefs' TD drives of 82 and 95 yards, they overcame situations of third-and-18 and second-and-28.
The Bears defense recorded only one sack and failed to force a turnover for the third straight game. After leading the NFL with 36 takeaways last season, the Bears are stuck on 16 this year.
As a result, the offense is rarely being given short fields. In their last four games, the Bears have started only one of 43 possessions in their opponents' territory—and that was after they recovered an onside kick to seal a win over the Cowboys with :07 left in the game. The Bears have scored 54 points off turnovers this season after tallying 107 last year.
The Bears are minus-two in turnover ratio this season. Their record is 4-1 with a positive differential, 2-4 when it's negative and 1-3 when it's even.
"Last year, we were on another level, another world with all those takeaways that we had," Nagy said. "It's hard to replicate that; not to say it can't be done. It's a part of flipping the field. It's a part of momentum.
"You didn't see that a whole lot yesterday on either side turnover-wise. But it's definitely something we want to continue to keep emphasizing because it is important. And I think one of the best stats in football is turnover margin as a team; where you're at. Are you taking the ball away and are you protecting it? That's where I think it's significant."
(3) The Bears were sloppy in all three phases Sunday night, which Nagy candidly attributed to a lack of focus from his team.
The Bears needed to play a near-perfect game to beat the Chiefs, but they were plagued by costly mistakes on offense, defense and special teams. "Against good teams like that in these situations, when you do that it's tough to win," Nagy said. "We need to be able to eliminate the mistakes and give ourselves a chance. I didn't think we did that yesterday."
Tarik Cohen dropped a pass. Aaron Lynch committed a neutral zone infraction on third-and-four, resulting in a first down that sustained the Chiefs' first touchdown drive. And Kevin Pierre-Louis was flagged for running-into-the-punter on fourth-and-four, giving Kansas City an automatic first down and keeping a drive alive that resulted in a touchdown.
Nagy often preaches about the importance of learning from mistakes. But for all three players, the miscues were ones they've made previously this season. The penalty on Pierre-Louis was the same one he drew in a similar situation Oct. 6 in London that sustained the Raiders' game-winning drive.
Asked how he would respond to those who labeled his team "undisciplined," Nagy said: "I don't think that anybody is wrong saying that. And that's part of the frustration for me is I know we're a disciplined team, but when you have some of the things that happened yesterday in the game, it's very easy to say that we're undisciplined.
"When I step back and look at everything big-picture wise, that's my job, I need to make sure that that part gets fixed. And that's what I'm going to do. So whatever it takes, however it's done, I'm going to do it. I'm going to be locked in on making sure that these mistakes come to an end."