INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Fundamentally-sound tackling helped fuel three straight strong performances by the Bears defense, but the unit faltered in that area in Sunday night's 30-13 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.
"The last three weeks our tackling has been really good," said coach Matt Eberflus. "But today wasn't what we needed it to be. We've been working our tail off on it in practice, been working on our angles, been working on that exact thing and it's been paying off for us, and today it did not."
Two of the costliest missed tackles came on Justin Herbert touchdown passes of 39 yards to running back Austin Ekeler midway through the first quarter and 11 yards to tight end Donald Parham Jr. late in the first half.
"We did a terrible job tackling in the first half," said cornerback Jaylon Johnson. "Just too many missed tackles, too many missed leverages that led to big plays. We know what to fix. We've just got to do it better.
"It was frustrating because we know we can do better. It's not something that you've got to learn or figure out what it is. You've just got to do it better."
"You get a big explosive play, and we don't take advantage of that," Eberflus said, "take that opportunity and create a scoring opportunity, at least a field goal. We got behind the sticks there."
"I feel like any time there's an explosive play, you want to try to finish a drive with points, whether it's three or six," added running back Darrynton Evans. "We're just going to have to go back to the drawing board and clean it up in practice and come out next week and try not to let it happen."
Check out the on-field action as the Bears take on the Chargers under the lights on Sunday Night Football.
Stepping up: Evans scored the Bears' first touchdown on an 11-yard run that cut the deficit to 17-7 with 1:47 remaining in the first half. He took a pitch and raced around right end for the first rushing TD of his four-year NFL career. His only previous TD had come on a 3-yard reception Dec. 20, 2020, when he played for the Titans in a 46-25 win over the Lions.
"Great play call," Evans said. "Everyone did a good job on the outside blocking. After that it was easy, just following the parade and running to the end zone."
Ground up: The Bears defense continued to excel against the run. After allowing 29, 46 and 39 yards on the ground in its previous three games, the unit limited the Chargers to 54 yards on 25 carries, an average of just 2.2 yards per attempt.
Ekeler was held to 29 yards on 15 carries but did his damage as a receiver out of the backfield, catching seven passes for a game-high 94 yards.
Tight coverage: Chargers star defensive end Khalil Mack didn't make much of an impact in Sunday's game, recording one tackle, one tackle-for-loss and no sacks. But the perennial Pro Bowler may have saved a touchdown in the second quarter when he snuffed out a trick play.
After receiving a shotgun snap on second-and-7 from the Chargers' 14, Bagent handed off to Mooney and then tried to slip around left end and into the end zone. Mooney looked to throw the ball back to Bagent, but Mack was plastered to the Bears quarterback.
"He's one of the greatest players in this league," Bagent said. "High IQ. And it's a good thing [for the Chargers] he did [read the play] or that would have been a touchdown."
On the shelf: Quarterback Justin Fields (thumb), right guard Nate Davis (ankle), cornerback Terell Smith (illness) and safety Jaquan Brisker (illness) were inactive. Defensive end Dominique Robinson was a healthy scratch.