After taking a step forward last week in New England, the Bears retreated at least two strides in their third preseason game Saturday afternoon against the Chiefs.
By the time their starters exited midway through the third quarter, the Bears trailed 20-0 after struggling on both sides of the ball. In the first half alone, Kansas City held decisive advantages in total yards (239-20), first downs (16-2) and time of possession (21:54-8:06).
Things didn't get much better in the second half as the Chiefs cruised to a 23-7 victory at Soldier Field. Coupled with a 22-0 loss to the Broncos two weeks ago, the Bears were outscored 45-7 in their two preseason home games this summer.
View photos from the game as the Bears take on the Chiefs at Soldier Field in Chicago.
But despite those two lopsided losses at Soldier Field, coach John Fox isn't about to panic.
"We've played two pretty good defenses; they practice and play, too," Fox said. "Other than that, most of it's been fixable stuff. I think we've been short in both games, both up front. In the first game we replaced our center (Hroniss Grasu) like two days before the game and obviously Kyle Long wasn't out there today. He's a pretty steady performer.
"Those aren't excuses; that's just reality, and if we look at the tape I don't think it was all bad. I know it might have looked like that, but so do a lot of preseason games."
One week after producing a field goal and touchdown on their first two possessions against the Patriots, the Bears came out flat Saturday. The offense failed to pick up a first down on its final four drives of the first half before finally showing some life to begin the third quarter.
The Bears crossed the 50 for the first time in the game on a possession that was sustained by Jay Cutler's 10-yard pass to Ka'Deem Carey on fourth-and-four. But the drive eventually stalled and Robbie Gould hooked a 48-yard field goal attempt wide left.
Cutler exited at that point, having completed 6 of 15 passes for 45 yards and a 47.9 passer rating.
After a scoreless first quarter, the Bears defense forced the Chiefs to settle for two field goals, with Cairo Santos connecting from 20 and 28 yards to give Kansas City a 6-0 lead.
The Chiefs settled for the second kick after safety Harold Jones-Quartey and linebacker Jerrell Freeman stopped tight end Ross Travis for a 1-yard reception on third-and-two from the 3.
"We knew our backs were against the wall," said inside linebacker Danny Trevathan. "We worked all week and we worked all offseason on being great in those situations."
The Chiefs widened the margin to 20-0 on Spencer Ware's 1-yard touchdown run with :10 left in the first half and Darrin Reaves' 4-yard TD dash midway through the third quarter. Santos added his third field goal without a miss, a 41-yarder, to make it 23-0 early in the fourth period.
The Bears finally got on the board with 5:40 left in the game when receiver Cameron Meredith caught a 16-yard touchdown pass from Connor Shaw, who had replaced an injured Brian Hoyer.
Unfortunately, Shaw later was carted off the field in pain after a Chiefs lineman landed on his leg, bending it awkwardly. Fox later described it as "a very serious injury," saying that Shaw was headed to the hospital and "our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family."
Although the Bears have lost their first three preseason games for the first time since 2010, Cutler is confident that the team will be ready for its regular season opener Sept. 11 in Houston.
"We still have some time to get better," Cutler said. "We're still missing some guys. We're going to kind of have a flux of guys coming into the lineup that we've been without the last couple of weeks. I think it's going to help us, make us a little more dynamic, and give us a little more explosion out there.
"We've just got to keep working. The alternative is just to say that we're not going to be very good, and that's not going to work for us. These guys work hard. The attitude is there. The want-to is there. We just need to be a little more disciplined out there with what we're doing."