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Payton Presser: Bears put up a good fight but lose a thriller at MetLife Stadium

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Chicago Bears' Tarik Cohen avoids a tackle from New York Giants' Nate Stupar while retiring a punt during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 2, 2018, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Heading into the Bears’ Week 13 match-up with the Giants, I believed they would depart MetLife Stadium with a win. But I had reservations. I never doubted their ability. But every week in the NFL is a dogfight. Having a little time off brought my mind back to the Miami game where Matt Nagy’s team was coming off of a bye. Would the Bears have a letdown game? The Bears fought back to force overtime, but fell to the last place Giants 30-27 in overtime. Let’s jump right in to some of my takeaways from Sunday’s loss at MetLife Stadium.

Another week without Mitchell Trubisky meant the Bears’ fate was in the hands of Chase Daniel. Daniel’s second start of the year didn’t pan out like we all had hoped it would. On the 2nd play of the game, his first pass attempt was a pick 6 by linebacker Alec Ogletree. Daniel would toss another interception in the 2nd quarter to Ogletree on the Giants 38-yard line. He finished the day completing 26 of 29 attempts for 285 yards and a touchdown. I thought with more time on the practice field, Daniel would be primed to top his output a week before against the Lions. The interceptions and miscues by the QB and center exchange late in the game were too costly. It comes down to this: If Trubisky isn’t ready for next week’s showdown versus the Rams, this team will suffer back-to-back losses. I guess we’ll be on Trubisky watch this week.

One big development on the day was the Bears running game. Nagy said after last week’s win over the Lions that he would spend some time figuring out how to get the ground game going. The Bears running game has been missing all season long. But Sunday at MetLife Stadium it was resurrected. Well, only for the 1st half, but I’ll take it. The Bears had 106 yards on the ground before halftime, but would abandon the run the second half as they fell behind. With the Bears down 7-0 in the first quarter, they ran the ball 5 straight times with Jordan Howard setting up the game-tying touchdown by Adam Shaheen. Howard rushed the ball 16 times for 76 yards. The Bears will have to find a way to run the ball more consistently with critical games coming up on the schedule. When you play good offenses, the best defense is a running game. That will be the case this upcoming Sunday night when the Rams come to town. I have no doubt the Bears can run the ball. But will they commit to it is the question that’s yet to be answered.

I have two side notes from Sunday’s game. First being the monster performance from Tarik Cohen. He had a career high with 186 yards from scrimmage a career-best 156 receiving yards. Cohen’s 12 catches tied Matt Forte’s single-game record for a Bears running back. The play that everyone will remember from Sunday was his touchdown pass to Anthony Miller to help send the game into overtime. It’s amazing to see how Cohen has morphed into a human highlight reel. His ability to pick up his second offense in 2 years amazes me. The crazy part is, this is just the beginning for the young man. The second thing on my list is Nagy’s decisions to call a timeout late in the second quarter right before halftime. The Bears had the Giants in a hole and Eli Manning and company looked likely to head into the locker room down 14-7. Nagy’s time-out would set up a monster 22-yard run by Saquon Barkley on 3rd & 23 and would end with an Aldrick Rosas 57-yard field goal as time expired to make the score 14-10 at the half. The Bears went into the locker room ahead, but momentum was on the Giants side and it stayed that way to start the second half.

The Bears defense has been this team’s saving grace all season. Sunday in New jersey, they were not able to create the necessary pressure to disrupt Eli Manning and the Giants offense. On Sunday, we saw Vic Fangio’s unit give up not one, but two busted coverage touchdowns. The Bears defense did something that we have become accustomed to and that’s tally another interception on the afternoon but one thing we aren’t accustomed to seeing is the yards they gave up on the ground. They gave up 141 yards on the ground and 125 of those came from rookie Saquon Barkley. The Bears had their hands full Sunday and they will be tested again when Todd Gurley comes to town.

I was always taught that you learn so much more from your losses then you do from your victories. I hope that’s the case for the Bears as they head into the biggest game of their season so far. When you take a tough loss on the chin, you go back and comb through the tape. People are asking me if I am nervous about what’s ahead for this team. My biggest concern is the status of Mitchell Trubisky. He gives this Bears team the best chance of winning games and his shoulder injury and how it holds up frighten me a little bit. Let’s take a step back, Bears fans. This team is still in a really good position. If you would have told me before the season the Bears would have 8 wins at this point, I would have told you the season was a success. The vision and goals have changed for this team. But if you want to know if your favorite team is for real, you see how they handle adversity. The road to the playoffs always has its bumps in the road and the Bears experienced one Sunday at MetLife Stadium. Sunday was a reality check for Nagy’s squad and next up is the biggest test of the season so far. Everyone wants to know if this Bears team is for real. Well, we will find out next Sunday night. Same time next week, Bears fans. #Beardown

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