Three Takeaways from Bears loss to Browns
Scott Galvin - USA Today Sports

Three Takeaways from Bears loss to Browns

by - Senior Writer -

Just when you thought the Bears may have finally turned around their season, they had another late-game meltdown against Cleveland and found a new way to lose. That makes three times this season where they have blown a 10-point fourth-quarter lead, and that can't happen in the NFL.

Even if that team finds a way to win one of those games, they are sitting at 6-8 instead of 5-9 and very easily could be 7-7 if not 8-6 had they found ways to win those games. Yes, you are what your record says you are, but this team isn't that far off from being right in the middle of a playoff push, making yesterday's loss all the more frustrating.

There was plenty of finger-pointing to go around again yesterday, but many are pointing to the Bears not kicking a field goal to end the first half. Even if Matt Eberflus chooses to kick one, then there is no guarantee that Cairo Santos will make the kick, and if he does, the game will still go into overtime anyway. Either way, there was no guarantee that a first-half field goal would win this game for Chicago, but it puts much more pressure on the Browns than it did. Here are some takeaways from Sunday.

Joe Flacco still has football left in him

Just when you thought Joe Flacco's NFL career was over, the 38-year-old is back under center and is leading the Browns to a playoff appearance. The long-time Baltimore Raven enjoyed 13 great seasons in Baltimore before landing as the New York Jets backup last season. He started a handful of games for the Jets last season, and although he didn't have great results, win/loss, he put up great numbers.

This season, Flacco was without a job until November, when the Browns added him to their roster following Deshaun Watson's season-ending injury. Since then, the Browns have gone 3-0 with Flacco under center, and you could make the case that their offense looks better with Flacco compared to Watson, bringing up the question about whether to bring Flacco back next season.

Although he did have three interceptions yesterday, Flacco still had two touchdown passes and now has seven TDs and four INTs in his three games this season. He also threw for nearly 400 yards against the Bears, proving that age is just a number. His best bays may be behind him, but Flacco can still be a starter in this league, and he is proving that now with the Browns. Knowing how good their defense has been this season, dare I say the Browns could be Superbowl contenders with Flacco under center.

The Bears defense continues to produce

I know everyone will look at that fourth quarter and destroy the Bears defense, but you can't take away from what they did in this game and their past four games. With three more interceptions yesterday, the Bears have 12 interceptions over their past four games and have forced 14 total turnovers.

That ranks No. 1 in the NFL by a wide margin, which is a big reason why the Bears have been much more competitive over the past month. Matt Eberflus deserves a ton of credit for that as he has not only taken over the playcalling but has turned that defense into one of the better units in football, which was the goal coming into the season.

Sure, the fourth quarter and the last two drives were terrible, but allowing 20 points will win you most games in the NFL, so you can't blame the defense yesterday. Look at the offense, for example, as they were held to right around 200 yards and barely spent any time on the field. Both of their TDs resulted from turnovers, and when your defense is on the field that long, it is only a matter of time before they break.

Lost by inches

Although the defense wasn't great in the fourth quarter, and the offense was lifeless most of the day, the Bears still had a chance to win this game and came inches from doing just that. With the ball in his hands and less than a minute to go, Justin Fields knew the pressure was on him to make something happen.

After Tyler Scott dropped a pass on first down, Fields returned to him, and he hauled it in for close to 30 yards and another first down. In the process, the Bears were on the edge of field goal range but were hoping for more. Instead, Fields faced constant pressure on his next two plays, setting the Bears up for third and long with five seconds to go.

Everyone in the stadium knew what was coming, and Fields executed the Haily Mary about as perfectly as you could. While the Browns and Bears were battling to knock it down, Mooney came jogging in from the goal line and was uncovered about two yards deep. In the process of knocking the ball down, Mooney saw the ball fall right into his hands. However, his left knee kicked the ball out of his hands while going to the ground, resulting in a game-ending interception.

Football is often won and lost by inches, and this play was one of those inches type of plays. With a chance to pick up two more wins this season, the Bears will be kicking themselves if they miss the playoffs by one game and can look at this play and the other blown leads in the fourth quarter as to why they are sitting home again.

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