With a 30-20 lead over the Detroit Lions late in Sunday's game at Soldier Field, the Bears appeared to be on the brink of snapping their five-game losing streak.
Instead, they snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, allowing two touchdowns in the final 2:18 in a heartbreaking 34-30 loss that extended their skid to six games.
"It's certainly one that hurts, and that's stating the obvious," coach Matt Nagy said after the Bears permitted two TDs in a :41 span late in the fourth quarter. "It's never fun being in that locker room after these losses. There's not a lot of words that can be said. We have to do it with our actions. We're all obviously disappointed. That's a tough one."
The Lions cut the deficit to 30-27 on quarterback Matthew Stafford's third touchdown pass of the game, a 25-yarder to wide open receiver Marvin Jones with 2:18 to play, capping a seven-play, 96-yard drive.
The Bears offense, which matched a season high with four touchdowns in the game, then picked the worst possible time for its first and only turnover of the afternoon.
On third-and-4 from his own 17, Mitchell Trubisky dropped back to pass. Defensive end Romeo Okwara swatted the ball out of Trubisky's hands and defensive lineman John Penisini pounced on the fumble at the 7.
Two plays later, running back Adrian Peterson's 5-yard TD run gave the Lions their first lead of the game at 34-30 with 1:37 remaining.
The Bears followed by advancing to the Lions' 24. On third-and-5, Allen Robinson II caught a pass near the right sideline. The veteran receiver seemingly could have easily picked up a first down, but instead stepped out of bounds one yard short of the marker.
On the next snap, David Montgomery was stopped for no gain on fourth-and-1 from the 20, turning the ball over on downs with :11 to play—and enabling the Lions (5-7) to win their first game under interim head coach Darrell Bevell.
The Bears (5-7) have now lost six straight for the first time in the same season since 2002. It's their longest skid overall since they dropped eight in a row bridging the 2014-15 campaigns.
"Is this right now a difficult time?" Nagy said. "You're damn right it is. It really is. It's hard. It challenges you in a lot of different ways."
In the first half, the Bears scored three touchdowns and one field goal on five possessions, amassing 253 yards and 17 first downs in taking a 23-13 halftime lead. But in the second half, the offense was limited to one TD on six drives, mustering only 136 yards and nine first downs.
Montgomery and Patterson combined to rush for 103 yards and three TDs on 18 carries in the first half before being held to 28 yards and no TDs on nine attempts in the second half.
The Bears rushed for three TDs in the first half for the first time since a 1990 game in Arizona. They scored on runs of 13 and 4 yards by Montgomery and 5 yards by Patterson.
"That one really hurts because everything was going the way we wanted it to go earlier," Montgomery said.
The Bears defense struggled throughout, yielding five touchdowns for the second straight game after permitting 12 TDs in the previous seven contests. The defense allowed a season-high 460 yards, its most since giving up 426 yards in its first meeting with the Lions, a Week 1 comeback win in Detroit.
Stafford threw for 402 yards and three touchdowns in posting a 109.4 passer rating while being sacked twice. In his previous two games, the Lions quarterback had thrown one TD pass while being sacked nine times in back-to-back losses to the Panthers and Texans.
In Sunday's game, the Bears allowed the Lions to score TDs on all three of their red-zone possessions and convert 55 percent of their third-down opportunities (6-of-11).
"We're a proud defense," said defensive tackle Bilal Nichols, who generated the Bears' only takeaway with his first career interception. "We know we need to be better. Point blank, period. It's on us because we need to play better. We need to go out there and play like the best defense. That's how we gotta bring it every week. We've got to be consistent. We can't have weeks where we're not playing the ball that we need to be playing.
"After a loss like that, it's hard to say anything. We've just got to find a way. We're going through a tough time right now, but it's on us to find a way to dig ourselves out of it."
See the game unfold through the lenses of our sideline photographers as the Bears face off in a divisional matchup against the Lions in Chicago.