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Fox reflects on narrow loss to Vikings

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Watching tape of Sunday's 23-20 loss to the Vikings, coach John Fox saw the Bears drop a heartbreaker on the final play for the second straight game.

Before losing to the Lions 37-34 in overtime Oct. 18 in Detroit, the Bears had rallied to beat the Raiders 22-20 on Robbie Gould's 49-yard field goal with :02 to play and the Chiefs 18-17 on Jay Cutler's 7-yard touchdown pass to Kyle Long with :21 left.

"Unfortunately, the last two weeks we weren't able to hang on with a touchdown lead late in the game," Fox said. "One went to overtime and one was won in regulation. That's sometimes the difference between 2-5 and 5-2. Other than the Seattle game (a 26-0 loss), we've had opportunities in games. We just came up a couple short in these last two."

Since getting blanked in Seattle, the Bears have played four straight games decided by three points or less for the first time since they played five in a row in 1987.

Injuries again forced the Bears to employ a makeshift offensive line Sunday against the Vikings. With center Hroniss Grasu (neck) joining left tackle Jermon Bushrod (shoulder) on the sideline, Matt Slauson moved from left guard to center, Vlad Ducasse switched from right guard to left guard and Patrick Omameh filled in at right guard.

Asked to assess the line's performance, Fox said: "We've had to make adjustments. It's a credit to the players involved and the coaches involved to be able to execute decent enough. [But] I think we've got room for improvement, no question."

Fox felt the same way about a revamped defensive line that has moved forward without Jeremiah Ratliff, who was released last week; and Ego Ferguson, who is on injured reserve.

"I think we're capable of playing better, not that it was poor or bad," Fox said. "We allowed them 16 points or one touchdown as a [defensive] group, not just the d-line. Again, we've got room for improvement."

Outside linebackers Willie Young and Lamarr Houston played only seven and four snaps, respectively, against the Vikings.

Asked if he's frustrated he hasn't been able to create a larger role for the two converted defensive ends, Fox said: "I think it's probably frustrating for them; you'd have to ask them that. At the end of the day, we're going to play guys that we think give us the best chance. Obviously we like them; they're on our football team, they have uniforms on Sunday.

"I think Willie Young played 39 plays a week ago. Sometimes the scheme, whether it's ours or the opponents, has a little bit to do with it. But I don't know if frustrating is the right word."

The Bears allowed their third kick-return touchdown of the season Sunday when Marcus Sherels brought back a punt 65 yards for a score. Sherels caught Pat O'Donnell's punt in the middle of the field before dashing down the right sideline untouched.

"Without going into too much detail, I think it was not a well-executed play," Fox said. "It started with the kick. It started with a couple of contain issues that were out of whack with where we wanted the kick. It just wasn't executed very well."

O'Donnell was the last Bears player to have a shot at Sherels, but the punter retreated into the end zone instead of taking on a blocker. Fox declined to criticize O'Donnell, saying: "At the end of the day you're not designing coverages that your punter is a major factor in the coverage."

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