LAKE FOREST – Bears head coach Matt Eberflus met with the media Monday at Halas Hall a day after his team blew a 12-point lead late in a 31-26 loss to the Detroit Lions on Sunday.
Eberflus credited his team for playing well for a majority of the game and said the Bears watched tape Monday to see how they didn’t leave Detroit with a win.
The Bears now will have a full week to regroup before traveling to Minnesota to play the Vikings in front of a national audience Monday night. Here are three of the most interesting things Eberflus said Monday.
On missed opportunities
The Bears missed numerous opportunities to score more in what could’ve been an upset win. The defense created four turnovers that the Bears turned into 10 points, but Eberflus thought they could’ve gotten more if they converted on third down.
“To me, that’s what it’s all about, punching it in there,” Eberflus said. “On offense when you get a takeaway from their group like we did in the second half, you have to score. That’s called complementary football. We have to keep doing that.”
Detroit quarterback Jared Goff threw interceptions on each of his team’s first two drives, but the Bears ended up punting and fumbling the ball away. The Bears did score a touchdown off a fumbled kickoff return in the third quarter and then kicked a field goal early in the fourth quarter after a Goff interception.
There also were questions regarding when Eberflus decided to go for it on fourth down. Eberflus defended his decision to kick a 40-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter and a 39-yard field goal when the Bears faced fourth-and-5 on the Detroit 21-yard line. The Bears successfully converted two fourth-down attempts in the first half but ended up punting and kicking a field goal later on those two drives.
“To me, that’s what it’s all about, punching it in there. On offense when you get a takeaway from their group like we did in the second half, you have to score, that’s called complementary football. We have to keep doing that.”— Matt Eberflus, Bears head coach
Eberflus agreed with his decisions on when to go for it each time Sunday and thought the Bears could’ve done a better job of executing.
“I would say that later in the game, where the game was where it was, based on what we’ve seen to that point, we like our decisions on fourth down not going for it and kicking those field goals,” Eberflus said.
On Justin Fields’ running numbers, growth
Fields ran the ball 18 times Sunday in his first game back since suffering a dislocated thumb in his throwing hand. He ended the game leading the team with 104 rushing yards, looking like the quarterback fans saw last season.
Eberflus was more impressed with the growth Fields showed with how he continued to look down the field and make connections just before he got to the line of scrimmage. Fields ended the game with 169 passing yards and one touchdown.
Eberflus pointed out the 39-yard touchdown pass to DJ Moore in the third quarter and a pass at the start of the third from the side pocket where he scrambled around and threw from a low angle.
“That’s growth, and that’s really cool to watch him do that, to be able to keep his protection in the pocket and be able to look down the field and deliver the ball,” Eberflus said.
On taking responsibility
Eberflus thought both the coaches and the players were responsible for Sunday’s collapse.
“When it works, it’s good coaching and good playing,” Eberflus said. “When it doesn’t, you have to both accept responsibility for that, and that’s called accountability and responsibility to your teammates.”
Sunday marked the second time the Bears held a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter and couldn’t find a way to win. The Bears led 28-14 against the Denver Broncos in Week 4 before ultimately losing 31-28.
It seemed less likely the Bears would give up a 26-14 lead with 4:15 left in the game Sunday before the Lions pulled off the improbable.
Eberflus didn’t think Sunday was a case of the Bears not knowing how to close out a win since they haven’t been in that spot often this season.
“We did finish there,” Eberflus said. “Those are the moments that we did finish in the red zone, we did finish with third-down, fourth-down stops on defense, we finished with takeaways, we’re scoring on defense and also the four-minute offense, both things work together.”