With a packed crowd out at Soldier Field for Sunday's season-opening matchup with the rival Packers, fans were on their feet, shaking the stadium as the Bears offense took the field. On the second play of the game, running back Khalil Herbert turned a screen pass into a 19-yard gain, causing the sea of blue and orange to erupt.
But after a couple short gains by Herbert and receiver Tyler Scott, the Bears faced third and inches and failed to convert on a direct snap to tight end Cole Kmet. Going for it on fourth down, the Bears attempted a quarterback sneak with Justin Fields, but fell short again. The turnover on downs led to a Packers touchdown.
"That was tough," Kmet told reporters after the game. "Tough to start the game off like that. I thought we came out nice on those first few plays and you could feel the energy in the guys and it kind of came to a halt with those two [plays]."
Players noted that momentum killers, such as those failed conversions and pre-snap penalties, followed the Bears offense for the entirety of Sunday's game and kept the unit from finding a consistent rhythm.
"I think just pre-snap stuff and then we were getting ourselves in negative situations on the first play," Kmet said of the offense's struggles. "It's hard to get stuff going and overcome that stuff consistently when you're doing that drive in and drive out. We gotta clean that up with some other things, but that was the killer for today for sure."
Receiver Darnell Mooney, who scored the team's first touchdown Sunday on a 20-yard reception, said the Bears offense committed a lot of "self-inflicted wounds" against Green Bay.
"It's definitely upsetting for sure," Mooney said postgame, "especially losing to the Packers – a divisional opponent – when those matter more than the other games. Definitely wanted to win this one, but you have to look in the mirror, see what you did wrong and don't dwell on it too much. It's just one game, we have 16 more to go."
While the consensus emotions throughout the locker room Sunday night were frustration and disappointment, the Bears are keeping the game in perspective of the entire season.
Linebacker and team captain Tremaine Edmunds knows the Bears "can definitely play cleaner ball" in all three phases. But his message to the team is to keep grinding and keep their heads up.
"The message don't change," Edmunds said. "It's not about putting our head down. I've been in this game for a long time and I understand how it goes. You can't let one game define you and this game is definitely not gonna define us.
"It's about getting back to work. It's about taking these Ls and learning from it. It's not losses, it's lessons. We can take lessons out of this and we can learn from it and get better."
While the Bears defense was unable to contain Green Bay's offense coming out of halftime, they limited the Packers to 100 total yards – 27 rushing – and 10 points in the first half.
"Overall the defense I thought did a nice job of playing the run," coach Matt Eberflus said Sunday night. "It is a big emphasis for us during the course of the year. I think they ended up at 2.9 average, which is really good. That's something to take away from the game."
While the run defense held tough Sunday, the Bears pass defense allowed Packers quarterback Jordan Love to throw for 245 yards and three touchdowns.
"I think one, just losing a game in general is never fun," Edwards said. "It's a bad feeling and if it's not a bad feeling, you're in the wrong business. It's gonna sting for a second and obviously it being Green Bay and all that stuff, but to us we want to go 1-0 every week and we didn't. That's the disappointment for us."
Edwards believes the Bears are capable of bouncing back. As a fifth-year pro, Edwards understands how important it is for players to have a short-term memory and turn the page quickly. The veteran is excited to get back with the team at Halas Hall and "figure out how to respond" ahead of next week's matchup with the Buccaneers in Tampa.
"Nothing changes," Edwards said. "We obviously gotta clean up some things, but in terms of our mindset, where we're at, the guys we have in here, that's all we need. I absolutely love being a part of this locker room. There's a lot of great leaders, a lot of people who are just hungry in here, and we'll be better from this."