The Bears followed a sad but familiar script Sunday, stumbling out of the gate, staging a mini-rally and then failing to execute with the game on the line.
For the second straight week, the Bears allowed an opponent that was 0-5 on the road this season to waltz into Soldier Field and record an improbable victory.
Seven days after falling to the 49ers in overtime, the Bears lost 24-21 to the Redskins, a team that entered Sunday's contest 1-18 on the road since early in the 2013 season.
"It's super frustrating," said running back Kyle Long. "Two weeks in a row, two teams who haven't won an away game the entire season and then we're at home, where you're supposed to be most comfortable and win in front of your fans and we haven't gotten it done."
After sleep-walking through the first two-and-a-half quarters, the Bears (5-8) turned a 21-7 deficit into a 21-21 tie with two touchdowns in a 2:18 span late in the third period.
But the Redskins (6-7) regained a 24-21 lead on Dustin Hopkins' 47-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter and secured the win when Robbie Gould pushed a potential game-tying 50-yard field goal attempt wide right with 1:40 left in regulation.
With Sunday's loss, the Bears have now dropped nine of their last 10 games at Soldier Field, their worst stretch at home since they also went 1-9 in 1972-73.
Since Week 3, the Bears' five losses have come by margins of 3, 3, 2, 6 and 3 points with two of the defeats coming in overtime. Over that same span, four of their five wins have come by margins of 2, 1, 3 and 4 points.
"I feel like we've had so many of these," said quarterback Jay Cutler. "In the games we win, we figure out a way. In the games we don't, we don't figure out a way. So it's a tough feeling. We haven't been very good at home. We've lost some tight games—three points or less, overtime. These have been some pretty tough games to swallow at this point."
On Sunday, the Redskins took a quick 14-0 lead by marching 80 and 93 yards for touchdowns on their first two possessions. Kirk Cousins completed 5 of 5 passes for 60 yards on the first drive, which was capped by Alfred Morris' 1-yard TD. Cousins scored Washington's second touchdown on a 3-yard run on a read-option play.
At that point, the Redskins held decisive advantages in total yards (141-18) and first downs (12-1). But the Bears outgained Washington 158-0 the rest of the half, drawing to within 14-7 on Cutler's 20-yard TD pass to Alshon Jeffery with :18 left in the half.
The Redskins increased their lead to 21-7 on Cousins' 5-yard TD pass to tight end Jordan Reed midway through the third quarter before the Bears came storming back.
Cutler capped a 10-play, 80-yard drive with a 9-yard TD strike to Zach Miller, cutting the deficit to 21-14. It was the Bears' first touchdown in the third quarter this season.
Two plays later, cornerback Kyle Fuller intercepted a Cousins pass intended for receiver Pierre Garcon, returning it nine yards to the Washington 21. The turnover set up Forte's 7-yard TD run, which tied the game 21-21 with 1:24 to play in the third quarter.
After Hopkins' field goal gave the Redskins a 24-21 lead with 14:07 to play, Cutler put the Bears in position to tie the game late with a 50-yard pass to Jeffery to the Washington 35.
But after Forte's 3-yard run and two incomplete passes, Gould missed a 50-yard kick that would have tied it. In last weekend's overtime loss to the 49ers, Gould hooked a 36-yard try wide left on the final play of regulation. But once again the veteran kicker was far from the only one who deserved blame for another disheartening loss.
"We started slow," said coach John Fox. "We allowed them 14 points very early on. It wasn't like they had 400 yards or 500 yards or something crazy. It was just that we shot ourselves in the foot at inopportune times, whether it was a play on defense, an execution on offense, pass blocking, catching the ball or missing a guy.
"We don't have a large margin of error and it's been kind of the same song for too many weeks."