The Bears were euphoric when Robbie Goulds 46-yard field goal sent their game against the Seattle Seahawks into overtime on Sunday.
But one lost coin toss later, it was bad news: the Bears defense, which was showing signs of fatigue after giving up a late fourth-quarter touchdown, was going right back out there. And the Seahawks took advantage of it.
The Seahawks methodical overtime drive got the best of the Bears, as they went 80 yards in a lengthy seven minutes and 27 seconds en route to their 23-17 victory. The Bears defense has been tough all season. But they spent a lot of time on the field Sunday, especially down the stretch, and it hurt them.
Fatigue plays in when you dont get off on third downs and then you dont get off on fourth downs, coach Lovie Smith said. It could be early in the game if you dont get off on third downs. Youre going to see it later on. Youve got to be able to reach down. Thats what weve done in those situations; make a play and get off the field.
But that didnt happen on Sunday. The Seahawks converted 8 of 15 third downs, including 3 for 5 in the second quarter and 3 for 3 in overtime. They also converted their only fourth-down attempt. And the Bears couldnt stymie Seattles lengthy marches downfield. The Seahawks had five drives of eight plays or more on Sunday, and three of those ended with touchdowns.
Fast forward to the end, when Seattle scored late in the fourth and then in overtime. Outside of the Bears 24-second drive that led to Goulds field goal, the Bears defense was on the field for 10 minutes, 43 seconds of the final 11:07 of the game.
But defensive back Kelvin Hayden wasnt into the fatigue excuse.
I think we just didnt make any plays, he said. The name of the game is to make plays and we didnt. Weve just got to get back to the drawing board, work on getting takeaways and move forward.
Defensive tackle Henry Melton agreed.
Some of those third downs, we definitely shouldve gotten off the field and put it back into our offenses hands to win the game for us. We just couldnt do it, Melton said. There were just plays we shouldve made. You just cant get those back.
The Bears also struggled to stop Seattle rookie quarterback Russell Wilson. The University of Wisconsin product had a stellar day, throwing for 293 yards and rushing for 71 more. His smarts and speed kept several Seattle drives alive.
After the fourth quarter, in the overtime they were leaving chips in. They were chipping inside and he would just scramble outside, Melton said. We shouldnt have let him out. We need to keep that edge. Weve been working on that all week, we knew he was going to do it. We just let him out.
The Bears defense may have been wearing down at the end. Whether it was fatigue, missed tackles or not making plays, the end result was the same. This one stung.
We knew what we were supposed to do. We just didnt execute the plan, Melton said. Nothing more to say about it. It just hurts.