The Bears couldn't overcome a multitude of mistakes Thursday night, including a pair of costly turnovers and no points on three red-zone possessions, in a 12-7 loss to the Commanders at Soldier Field.
The Bears (2-4) had a chance to take the lead in the final minute of the game following a missed 48-yard field goal by Commanders kicker Joey Slye that gave the offense the ball at their 38 with 1:49 to go. Quarterback Justin Fields scrambled 39 yards down the left side of the field to reach Washington's 5. But on fourth-and-goal from the 4, Fields threw to receiver Darnell Mooney, who caught it short of the goal line, sealing the win for the Commanders (2-4).
"Our defense did an outstanding job of rising up there when we didn't get that fourth down and forcing a missed field goal," coach Matt Eberflus said. "And then we drove it all the way down the length of the field to give ourselves a chance to win it at the end there, and then didn't punch it in."
While the Bears didn't score until the third quarter, they had two red-zone opportunities in the first half. On the team's second drive of the game, Fields was picked off at the Washington 5 on a pass intended for tight end Cole Kmet. The following Bears possession resulted in a turnover on downs after Fields overthrew tight end Ryan Griffin in the end zone on third-and-goal from the 1 and running back Khalil Herbert was stopped short on fourth-and-goal.
"Finish, that's it," Fields said of the missed red-zone opportunities. "That's the jist of the whole game: finish. We didn't finish. Missed a wide-open touchdown pass, didn't finish. Fourth-and-1, handed the ball off to [Herbert], couldn't finish it. Last play, couldn't finish it. There's multiple plays in that game that we could've made to change the whole game, but the summary of it all is we didn't finish. It doesn't matter if you drive all the way down to the 5-, 1-yard line and don't score. It's the same thing as a three-and-out and you punt inside the 10. It's the same thing. So just the biggest thing is just finishing."
Washington's go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter came after receiver Velus Jones Jr. muffed a punt at the Bears' 6. Running back Brian Robinson Jr. had a 1-yard TD run to put the Commanders up 12-7.
Fields completed 14 of 27 passes for 190 yards while rushing for 88 yards. Running backs Herbert and David Montgomery added 75 and 67 yards on the ground, respectively.
Commanders quarterback Carson Wentz completed 12 of 22 passes for 99 yards; Robinson totaled 60 rushing yards on 17 carries and a score.
On the Bears' second possession, the offense was driving downfield as Fields connected with Kmet for 15 yards then receiver Dante Pettis for 19 yards. But after reaching the Washington 5, Fields' pass intended for Kmet was tipped by end Efe Obada then intercepted by tackle Jonathan Allen.
The Bears defense didn't let the Commanders capitalize as linebacker Roquan Smith sacked Wentz on third down for a loss of 5 yards. After the Bears got the ball back at their own 30, Herbert evaded defenders and broke free for a 64-yard run to reach the Washington 6.
While the Bears had their best opportunity to score, Fields overthrew Griffin in the end zone and third down, then Herbert was stopped on the next play.
The game's first score didn't come until 46 seconds before halftime when Slye made a 38-yard field goal to put the Commanders up 3-0. Washington's biggest play in the drive was a 16-yard run by J.D. McKissic, but cornerbacks Kyler Gordon and Jaylon Johnson were also flagged for pass interference, allowing the Commanders to stay on the field and reach Bears territory.
A 40-yard touchdown pass from Fields to Pettis gave the Bears a 7-3 lead with 7:16 remaining in the third quarter. On second-and-9, Fields snapped the ball quickly to catch the Commanders with 12 men on the field, then delivered a perfect deep ball to Pettis in the back of the end zone. The Bears went 94 yards on the 9-play drive.
"That was awesome," coach Matt Eberflus said. That was great. We've been trying to pull that off these first few games, and we did. Man, what a throw. We all know he's a great deep ball thrower and he threw right in there and Dante had a great catch and execution."
The Commanders cut down the Bears' lead to 7-6 as Slye kicked a 28-yard field goal with 14:51 left to play. On third-and-goal from the 10, tackle Justin Jones deflected Wentz's pass for an incompletion, forcing the field goal try. Running back Antonio Gibson accounted for 43 of the 65 yards on the 13-play drive.
After the Bears defense forced a three-and-out, Jones muffed the ensuing punt and Washington recovered the fumble at Chicago's 6-yard line. Robinson then punched it in from 1 yard out two plays later. While the Commanders failed on a two-point conversion, they took a 12-7 lead with 7:21 left in the game.
On the Bears following drive, an illegal use of hands penalty on cornerback Benjamin St-Juste sustained the possession after Fields was sacked on third-and-5. After a pair of incomplete passes, the Bears elected to go for it on fourth-and-11, but a delay of game penalty made it fourth-and-16. The offense stayed on the field, but Fields threw an incompletion intended for receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette and Washington took over with 2:28 to play.
See all of the game action unfold from behind the lens in Chicago as the Bears battle the Commanders at Soldier Field on Thursday Night Football.