By Nate Johnson
The late-season downward spiral continued in Chicago on Sunday, as the Washington Redskins edged the Bears 24-21.
Another miss with time expiring for Robbie Gould–the sixth miss for the formerly reliable kicker in the last seven games–afforded the Redskins their first road win of the season and dug the Bears deeper into a home hole as they find themselves just 1-6 at Soldier Field this year.
Enjoying the warmest weather in recent Decembers, Jay Cutler put up respectable numbers, throwing for 315 yards and two touchdowns, although he did turn the ball over due to a fumble while getting sacked in the second quarter. The running back-by-committee experiment continued with Matt Forte and Jeremy Langford combined for over 80 yards on the ground and a touchdown.
The bears had a promising drive in the second quarter making their way to the red zone on a pass to Zach Miller, but a holding penalty on the play would negate the gain and an offensive pass interference on the following play would put the Bears back on their own side of the field.
An incomplete pass followed by a short 3rd down completion would turn what looked to be a sure scoring drive into yet another punt.
“It’s super frustrating,” said Forte. “Two weeks in a row, two teams who haven’t won an away game the entire season and then we’re at home, where you’re supposed to be most comfortable and win in front of your fans and we haven’t gotten it done.”
One of Cutler’s two scores found Alshon Jeffery (107 yards, 1 TD), who is now 203 yards away from becoming the first Bears receiver with over 1,000 yards in three separate seasons.
The defense, however, had a hard time stopping Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins. Cousins, who had come into the game leading the NFL in completion percentage, picked apart the Bears early in the game as he completed his first six passes and led the Redskins to touchdowns on their first two possessions.
Two third-quarter touchdowns for the Bears tied the game at 21, the second of which thanks to a Cousins interception by Kyle Fuller, but the scoring stopped there for the home team and a late field goal from Redskins kicker Dustin Hopkins would be all they needed.
The win kept Washington in their improbable roost atop the NFC East as they improved to 6-7 on the year.
“I feel like we’ve had so many of these,” said Cutler. “In the games we win, we figure out a way. In the games we don’t, we don’t figure out a way. So it’s a tough feeling. We haven’t been very good at home. We’ve lost some tight games—three points or less, overtime. These have been some pretty tough games to swallow at this point.”
With their playoff hopes dashed, the Bears will travel to Minneapolis this Sunday in hopes of playing spoiler. The Vikings sit one game behind the Packers with a January 3 meeting in Green Bay looming large for the division crown.
One player who won’t be along for the ride: rookie wideout Kevin White, who the Bears officially shut down for the season Tuesday.
Joining him on season-long injured reserve was safety Antrel Rolle, who sprained his MCL during non-contact practice back on Nov. 20.