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After Further Review

Fox: Bears must improve in red zone


One day after Sunday's 37-34 overtime loss to the Detroit Lions, Bears coach John Fox lamented his offense's struggles in the red zone.

Before scoring two late touchdowns to take a 31-24 lead, the Bears had produced just one TD on five trips inside the Lions' 20 over the first three quarters. The other four possessions resulted in three field goals and an interception, stalling at the 9, 5, 6 and 20.

"It's a hard part of the field," said coach John Fox. "It's harder to run because the field is short. It's harder to pass because the field is short. It's an area that I wish we could have executed better. It's an area we'll look at and work to improve on."

Fox was happy to have Alshon Jeffery back on the field Sunday. After missing four games with a hamstring injury, the team's top receiver showed his game-changing ability by catching eight passes for 147 yards and one touchdown.

Jeffery had receptions of 25 and 24 yards from Jay Cutler on back-to-back plays to set up Robbie Gould's game-tying field goal on the final play of regulation. The two catches came after the Bears had taken over at their own 20 with just :21 left.

"He's got great radius," Fox said. "He's a good ball-getter in all instances. He's got deceptive speed and I think he showed that [Sunday]."

With the Bears leading 31-27, Matthew Stafford threw an incomplete pass on third-and-goal from the 12. But outside linebacker Pernell McPhee was flagged for a late hit on the Lions quarterback, giving Detroit an automatic first down.

On the next play, Stafford's 6-yard TD pass to Calvin Johnson gave the Lions a 34-31 lead with :21 remaining. The officials conferred before deciding to penalize McPhee, who hit Stafford low after he released the ball.

"Like all officiating calls, we have a procedure we do and that one will be turned in [to the NFL] and we'll get a chance to see what they think," Fox said. "It doesn't really change much, but I don't think [McPhee] could've done much [to avoid the flag]."

Benched a week earlier after throwing three interceptions in a lopsided loss to the Cardinals, Stafford passed for 405 yards and four touchdowns against a Bears defense that had only allowed four TDs in its previous three games.

"I remind everybody that that's a pretty good offensive football team," Fox said. "They've got good players in all spots and got a little healthier on the offensive line with their right guard [Larry Warford] back [from injury].

"It was a hard-fought game and we came up a little bit short. We had plenty of chances, whether it was offense, defense, special teams, coaching; all of our signatures were on it. We were able to squeeze out a couple close games, but came up short."

Matt Prater's game-winning 27-yard field goal in overtime was set up by Johnson, who leaped over Bears safety Jonathan Anderson to haul in a 57-yard pass at the Chicago 6.

Johnson had six receptions for 166 yards. It was the 45th game of his career with at least 100 yards, breaking a fourth-place tie with Hall of Famer Jerry Rice.

"I saw a big guy go up and get the ball," Fox said. "He's done it for a little bit. I think he broke some guy named Jerry Rice's record. He wasn't bad."

On Stafford's 8-yard TD pass to tight end Tim Wright in the left corner of the end zone, cornerback Kyle Fuller never turned around to look for the ball.

"That late in the down, I think guys get caught not having vision," Fox said. "It's not really the fault of anybody. He didn't have vision on the ball in that instance and the guy made a heck of a throw and the receiver did a good job finding it."

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