The Bears rallied from a 17-0 deficit to take a 21-17 lead before falling to the Raiders 24-21 Sunday in London. Here are three things that stood out about the game:
(1) A Bears defense that is considered among the best in the NFL struggled mightily.
The defense was dominated by a Raiders offense that relied on a power running game and short, quick passes. The Bears allowed a season-high 398 yards and 25 first downs and permitted Oakland to extend drives by converting 6-of-12 third downs. They did not record a sack or a tackle-for-loss and were credited with just one quarterback hit.
“You could see it wasn’t really the defense that we know,” coach Matt Nagy said Monday before the Bears left London. “That wasn’t us. [Defensive coordinator] Chuck [Pagano] will be the first to tell you. Our players will be the first to tell you. That wasn’t really who we were. But that’s why we need to understand that this parity in this league, it’s there and we need to be able to realize that, that you’ve got to start fast.”
The defense stumbled out of the gate and continued to struggle, allowing 208 yards and 14 first downs in the first half. With little resistance, the Raiders scored two touchdowns and a field goal on three straight drives to take a 17-0 halftime lead.
Behind a massive offensive line, Oakland rushed for 169 yards and three touchdowns on 39 carries in the game, with rookie running back Josh Jacobs compiling 123 yards and two TDs on 26 attempts. The Bears had entered Week 5 ranked third in the NFL against the run, having allowed an average of 61.5 yards per contest.
“They’re huge,” Nagy said of the line. “They’re big boys now. They’re persistent with the run. Some teams can’t do that. They can’t line up with the fullback, two tights and two wide receivers. They’re going to cover up the edges and do what they do and that’s their identity. We ran into a similar team the week before in Minnesota and we did a good job at shutting them down. Now here we are a week later and credit goes to them.”
(2) The Bears showed their character and mettle by rallying from a 17-0 deficit to take a 21-17 lead late in the third quarter.
All three phases contributed to the comeback. The offense produced three touchdowns, including two TD passes from Chase Daniel to Allen Robinson of 4 and 16 yards. The defense generated two takeaways and forced two punts on four possessions. And Tarik Cohen set up a touchdown with a career-long 71-yard punt return.
“The biggest positive that I took from this game is that after being down 17-0, our guys never gave up and let that be a 34-0 game,” Nagy said. “Within one quarter, we scored 21 points, took the lead. [But] we didn’t finish. Is it good enough? Is it consolation? No, but I think we need to understand that we had that in us. And so down the road if that is to happen again, we can come back and make it a game and then finish it the next time. That’s the positive.”
Regrouping in the locker room at halftime, the Bears were determined to get back into the game in the third quarter.
“A lot of guys felt like we had to respond, and I think we handled it well,” said linebacker Danny Trevathan. “You want to see that from your team. It’s not the result that we wanted, but we know the character of guys that we have. We’re going to fight until the end.”
“Any time you’re down in the NFL 17-0, it’s always hard to come back,” Daniel said. “They’re good teams. But when we went in at halftime, there was no panic. There was cool, calm, let’s go make a play, and the whole thing was one-play-at-a-time mentality, and I thought we really did that for the most part.”
(3) The Bears were marching toward a possible game-tying field goal late when Daniel threw an interception that sealed the loss.
Taking over at their own 25 with 1:57 remaining following the Raiders’ go-ahead touchdown, the Bears marched to the Oakland 47 as Daniel completed 3-of-4 passes for 28 yards.
But on second-and-10 with 1:22 to play, his deep pass intended for Anthony Miller floated into the hands of Raiders cornerback Gareon Conley at the 23.
“[Conley] fell off late, right as Chase was getting ready to throw it,” Nagy said. “Chase didn’t have vision to [Conley] and he fell off. It looked like read-wise [Conley] made a good play of falling off on it and you end up seeing it’s a throw into double coverage.”
“Chase is frustrated. He knows that in that position there he just lost sight of where he was at. We talked [Sunday] night, but he feels like he could have dumped it down, but he didn’t, and again we’ve got to use these scenarios and plays to learn from it.”
The interception probably at least would have been contested had Miller run his route a little bit higher. “He flattened it off so it really looked like there was no one there,” Nagy said. “He’s supposed to go a little bit higher with his corner route, so at least maybe he’s there to knock the ball down. But at the same time, Chase would be the first to tell you that he wishes that he wouldn’t have made that throw.”