One play continues to stand out from the Bears' 26-3 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs: Mitchell Trubisky's overthrow to Allen Robinson in the second quarter.
Had it been on target, the throw likely would have been Trubisky's 18th touchdown pass of the season. However, coach Matt Nagy emphasized the level of difficulty of play.
"That type of throw downfield," said Nagy, "with the angle that you have right to left, it has to be darn near perfect with that. I mean, (Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu) was on A-Rob's heels a bit.
Mitch knows that he can make that throw. He's made it in practice. Again, his reaction after the throw, you knew that he would've wanted it back."
Nagy played down the idea that his third-year quarterback was pressing too hard to make big plays during the matchup with the Chiefs.
"I don't think pressing's the word," said Nagy. "I just think it's one of those deals where those are the type of plays that we want to hit. If we get that, it's 10-7."
In the literal and symbolic sense, the play joins the pile of near-misses that have defined the Bears' season. In the team's eight losses, the offense had the ball in the fourth quarter with the opportunity to score or tie in six.
An interception in the end zone ended a potential game-tying drive against the Green Bay Packers in Week 1 while the team was one pitch away from sending the rematch into overtime in December.
A running into the kicker penalty may have cost the Bears the game against the Oakland Raiders in London, setting off a four-game losing streak that included a missed last-second field goal against the Los Angeles Chargers.
Even in games where the Bears fell behind early and by significant margins, the team had a knack for fighting back and making things interesting in the second half. The fact that so many of those rallies fell just short will give memories of the 2019 season a plethora of "what-if" scenarios.
To borrow a saying used by defensive tackle Akiem Hicks last week, if a wish were a fifth, we'd all be drunk.
"We always talk about there's never been a putt made in the history of golf that's short," said Nagy. "Or a ball that's been complete out of bounds. So, give these guys a chance. And Mitch knows all this stuff. This is nothing that I'm criticizing him for. It's just one that he missed."
Beyond Special Teams: Cordarrelle Patterson made a splash on Special Teams this year, earning a Pro Bowl invitation.
His role in Nagy's offense is still evolving. Patterson enters the last week of the season with 11 catches for 83 yards and 15 rushes for 89 yards. However, his lone carry against the Chiefs went for 16 yards and put the Bears five yards from the goal line.
"I think you guys saw yesterday what he can do when he is in the backfield," said Nagy. "He's able to make some — he's fast, he's big, and he runs the ball hard. And then he does good things in the pass game, too."
Patterson has always been an unusual player, having the size and skill to play either running back or receiver. He caught 52 passes for the Minnesota Vikings in 2016 but recorded twice as many carries as catches last season for the New England Patriots.
Patterson has one more year left on his contract with the Bears, and Nagy believes that their mutual familiarity will produce greater results next season.
"That's, again, for somebody like him, me learning how to use some of the players," said Nagy. "I think you'll see that that'll get better. You saw a good run from him yesterday. I love his energy. When he touches the football, usually good things happen. So we need to be better with him, and I think we will."
Stability at kicker: Eddy Piñeiro provided the Bears with their only points of the game, connecting on a 46-yard field goal in the third quarter.
"I was really happy that he made that," said Nagy. "I think we're in a good place with him right now. I think if there's one storyline that we take out of this — Hey, these kickers are going to have some tough times, not only kicking at Soldier Field but just the kicking world in general. It's not easy."
Piñeiro has hit 19 of his 24 field goal attempts. His field goal against the Chiefs was all the more meaningful because it comes from a distance--between 40 and 49 yards--where Piñeiro has struggled the most this season.
Having seen Piñeiro pull himself out of a midseason slump, Nagy had good things to say about his first-year kicker.
"I like the way he has handled himself all year long," said Nagy. "I thought yesterday was a good kick for him, for his confidence, being at home and hitting that. It's too bad situationally, we had to get three scores, so we needed that field goal there. That was a big kick for him."
Since the Bears acquired Piñeiro last spring from the Raiders, the kicker has worked to quiet anxiety about the position.
Nagy said that Piñeiro's performance will bode well for him in the offseason.
"Hopefully, when we reflect at the year's end," said Nagy, "we all feel good about where we're at with him. And we feel like that we've found an answer there with him. I'm proud of him for that."