One day after their disappointing overtime loss to the 49ers, coach John Fox vowed that the Bears would rebound as they enter the final four games of the season.
"In my experience in this league, it's either a carnival after you win or it's a crisis after you lose," Fox said Monday. "It's just the nature of what we do. These guys are professionals; they understand that we still have a full quarter left of the season.
"The worst you can you finish is 5-11, the best you can finish is 9-7, and those sound completely different, so that's in front of you."
After a thrilling win over the Packers Thanksgiving night in Green Bay improved their record to 5-6, the Bears were on the cusp of reaching the .500 mark for the first time this season Sunday when they took a 20-13 lead over the 49ers with 3:32 left in the fourth quarter.
But San Francisco tied the game 20-20 on quarterback Blaine Gabbert's 44-yard touchdown run with 1:42 remaining in regulation and won it 26-20 on Gabbert's 71-yard TD pass to Torrey Smith just over two minutes into overtime.
"It's a disappointing loss like all of them," Fox said. "This game's only fun when you win. The old 'Wide World of Sports' [slogan was] 'The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.' It's what we do for a living. These guys are big boys.
"There were a lot of good things that we did, just not enough good things to get the 'W.' Like any loss this year, we'll evaluate it and mistakes, got to admit them and then you fix them and not let them happen again, so hopefully we take that into the fourth quarter of our season."
Sunday's performance was certainly a mixed bag in all three phases.
Quarterback Jay Cutler hands off to running back Jeremy Langford during the second half.
The defense forced a season-high seven three-and-outs and recorded four sacks, but allowed its longest run and pass of the year late in the game. The offense rushed for 170 yards and two touchdowns, but Jay Cutler threw an interception that was returned for a TD.
On special teams, Deonte Thompson put the Bears in position to win with a 74-yard kickoff return. But Robbie Gould followed by missing a 36-yard field-goal attempt as time expired in regulation that would have given his team a 23-20 victory.
"In every game there's good and bad," said right tackle Kyle Long. "The ones that the bad outweighs the good are the ones obviously you end up on the lower end of things. It's a tough pill to swallow; just a weird feeling after that game.
"But you've got to move on, and watching film will be really tough today. With the group we have here, we'll all hold each other accountable and we'll hold ourselves accountable. There will be honesty and there will be some plays that are tough to watch. But like I said, with this group there's going to be brutal honesty, and I think progress will be made."
While rehashing their loss to the 49ers won't be a very pleasant experience, the Bears will make sure it's at least productive as they begin to prepare for their next game Sunday against the Redskins.
"It starts with going in meetings and getting things corrected so we don't make the same mistakes going into the game Sunday," said defensive lineman Jarvis Jenkins. "Just turning the page and getting out there and playing football again Sunday."
In dropping to 5-7, the Bears no longer have a realistic chance of making the playoffs. But that won't change their attitude or approach.
"Obviously that's the ultimate goal, to get to the dance," Long said. "But for us, personally, this is about pride. You could go down the entire line of our roster and they'd all echo the same thing and I know they'd mean it because I've seen these guys. I've seen the preparation they've put in, the hard work, the long hours.
"There are a lot of guys—unseen guys, unheard of guys—that are coming in and making big-time plays for us and progressing. I love this team. They love the game and we want to win. I promise you, it will get better. Gosh, we're in every game. But it's not good enough and we need to be better."