The Bears showed some signs of progress early in their home opener Monday night against the Philadelphia Eagles, but all positive vibes dissipated during a disastrous second half.
Trailing just 9-7 at halftime, the Bears committed turnovers on three of their first four drives of the second half and allowed Eagles touchdowns on three straight possessions in a 29-14 loss.
Making matters worse, seven Bears players left Monday night's game with injuries, including four starters: quarterback Jay Cutler (right thumb), outside linebacker Lamarr Houston (knee), defensive tackle Eddie Goldman (ankle) and safety Adrian Amos (concussion).
"Obviously, very disappointed," said coach John Fox. "A lot was made of our (1-7) home record from a year ago. We talked about it enough. But obviously it didn't look like it translated.
View photos from the game as the Bears take on the Eagles at Soldier Field in Chicago.
"Without looking at the tape, any time you are minus-three in turnover ratio, it can look like that. But it definitely wasn't a clean game. I think we're capable of better and we've got to do better."
Cutler hurt the thumb on his throwing hand early in the game and aggravated it when he was sacked and lost a fumble on the opening drive of the second half. He exited late in the third quarter after his pass intended for Alshon Jeffery was intercepted by Nigel Bradham.
The Eagles took control of the game by scoring two touchdowns in a :21 span late in the third quarter, increasing their lead from 9-7 to 22-7. After the Bears allowed their first TD of the night on Ryan Mathews' 3-yard run, Cutler was picked off by Bradham, who returned it 28 yards to the Chicago 2. Cutler said his sore thumb affected the throw.
"I couldn't get as much on it as I wanted to to put it over the top of that 'backer," Cutler said. "Unfortunate, hurt the team. I knew that I was putting the team—especially the offense—in jeopardy at that point so I had to talk to (quarterbacks coach Dave Ragone) and get (backup quarterback Brian) Hoyer in there, and I knew my day was done."
The Eagles converted the turnover into Carson Wentz's 2-yard TD pass to Trey Burton. Caleb Sturgis missed the extra point, but Philadelphia still led 22-7. Wentz completed 21 of 34 passes for 190 yards with one TD, no interceptions and an 86.6 passer rating.
Asked during his post-game press conference about the extent of Cutler's thumb injury, Fox said: "We haven't gotten all those results yet, and I don't want to just wing it. We'll have plenty of time to evaluate it, and we'll keep you posted."
In addition to the four starters who exited, the Bears also lost running back Ka'Deem Carey (hamstring), nickel back Bryce Callahan (concussion) and safety Chris Prosinski (calf) to injuries.
The Bears have now been outscored 33-7 in the second half of their first two games, with the only points coming Monday night on Eddie Royal's nifty 65-yard punt return touchdown that cut Philadelphia's lead to 29-14 with 5:09 left in the fourth quarter.
Things weren't as dire in the first half Monday night. The Bears held the Eagles out of the end zone and took a 7-3 lead on Jeremy Langford's 1-yard TD run early in the second quarter. The score was set up by Jeffery's 49-yard reception from Cutler to the Philadelphia 5.
The Bears actually had a chance to even the score on their previous possession after Royal turned a screen pass into a 31-yard gain. But Connor Barth missed a 31-yard field goal attempt late in the first quarter, hitting the left upright.
It was that kind of night for the Bears, who have now started back-to-back seasons 0-2 for the first time since 1997-98 and have dropped 11 of their last 12 home games dating back to 2014.
But with a short week ahead, the Bears will quickly put Monday night's deflating loss behind them and start preparing for Sunday night's game against the Cowboys.
"It's tough," Fox said. "It strengthens you. If it was easy, anybody could do it. It's two games and we have 14 games left. Right now all our focus very quickly will go to Dallas to go on the road on Sunday night, and we have a lot of improving to do."