Bears, coach Matt Nagy find a new rock bottom in loss to RavensPatrick Finleyon November 22, 2021 at 12:40 am

Bears coach Matt Nagy cheers Sunday. | Nam Y. Huh/AP

The soundtrack at rock bottom Sunday sounded like this: a cacophony of fans, loud enough for their words to rattle throughout Soldier Field, chanting for Bears coach Matt Nagy to be fired.

The soundtrack at rock bottom Sunday sounded like this: a cacophony of fans, loud enough for their words to rattle throughout Soldier Field, chanting for Bears coach Matt Nagy to be fired.

A chorus of “Fiiiiii-re Na-ggggy” rang out at the most important moment of the Bears’ 16-13 loss to the Ravens — fourth-and-6 from the Ravens’ 44 with 1:48 to play and the Bears down by two. It grew louder after Nagy took a timeout and 39-year-old Bears left tackle Jason Peters, who has played more football than anyone on the field, rewarded him with a false start.

The chants were drowned out by elation when backup Andy Dalton did the impossible on the next play, lofting a 49-yard touchdown pass to Marquise Goodwin to take the lead. But they returned 89 seconds later, after the Bears defense allowed the Ravens’ own backup quarterback, Tyler Huntley — making his first start because former NFL MVP Lamar Jackson was inactive due to an illness — to march 72 yards in five plays for the game-winning touchdown.

The Bears’ fifth loss in a row was their most heartbreaking because of who started at quarterback for the Ravens — and who finished at the position for the Bears.

Afterward, Nagy was asked if he heard the chorus — and the boos that accompanied the Bears to the locker room at halftime, down 6-0.

“I just understand that in the end we all care a lot and we’re all in this thing,” he said. “And of course we want to do everything we can to win. That’s our job to do that. And I think everyone is competitive and wants to see the Bears win — and that’s exactly what we want.”

They’re not winning. The 3-7 Bears’ last victory came six weeks ago — and counting. They’re the No. 15 seed in a 16-team NFC — with only Thursday’s opponent, the winless Lions, behind them.

They’re likely to play that game without Nagy’s last remaining life raft. Rookie quarterback Justin Fields — whose right shoulder carries the weight of the franchise — left Sunday’s game in the third quarter with a ribs injury. Nagy pled ignorance about Fields’ status, but it seems unlikely the Bears would rush him back for a meaningless Thanksgiving game when he has 10 days to rest on the other side.

The best argument Nagy could make for returning in 2022 is for Fields to improve steadily in the second half. Any game the rookie misses robs him the opportunity to make that case. Not that Fields built on momentum from the Steelers game Sunday: before leaving after the first drive of the third quarter, Fields went 4-for-11 for 79 yards and a passer rating of 62.3. He was sacked twice, losing a fumble in the second quarter that led to a Ravens field goal.

The rookie wasn’t alone in his sloppiness. On their first drive, the Bears called a toss to running back David Montgomery on third-and-5 at the Ravens’ 16 — and lost six. Cairo Santos then shanked a 40-yard field goal. The Bears made a second special teams mistake in the fourth quarter, when the Ravens partially blocked a punt and eventually kicked a field goal.

The Bears, though, never looked so discombobulated as they did when Nagy called three timeouts in the fourth quarter.

On third-and-1 with about 12:30 left, Dalton took a deep shot to Darnell Mooney in man coverage. The receiver couldn’t get two feet in bounds, leaving the Bears with fourth-and-1 at the 49. Nagy ran the punt team out, then called a timeout, then went for it — and failed.

Nagy blamed his headset, which briefly stopped working. Because he couldn’t communicate with offensive coordinator Bill Lazor in the coaches’ booth, he turned to special teams coordinator Chirs Tabor next to him and told him to punt. Nagy claimed his headset began working again, so he called timeout and decided to go for it.

Dalton had a baseball cap on, seemingly thinking the Bears were punting, before hustling back onto the field.

“Next thing you know the offense is on the field,” Dalton said, “which is fine.”

No it’s not.

The Bears called a direct snap to Montgomery, who was stuffed well short of the sticks.

“If you get it, it looks good,” Nagy said. “If you don’t get it, it looks bad.”

Nagy burned his second timeout on fourth-and-6 — before Peters’ false start — though he said later he’d “love to be able to keep it” to use on defense had they fallen short.

He blew the third one after Goodwin’s touchdown that put them up four. Anyone who’s played a minute of “Madden” knows to go for two — being up six keeps a tie in play if the opponent scores and misses the extra point. Nagy said the Bears were confused, though — “We’re at a point where you have the celebrations, you have the guys going back and forth,” he said — and sent out the field goal unit. After the timeout, they went for two and threw an incomplete pass.

The timeout would have come in handy when the Bears’ defense was caught flat-footed a few minutes later. For the second-straight game, the Bears defense was staked to a lead in the final two minutes and couldn’t hold it. On third-and-12 from the Bears’ 32, the Ravens caught the Bears in a blown coverage, completed a pass for 29 yards and scored the next play.

That’s when the chants for Nagy’s job grew the loudest.

“You keep fighting, you keep believing in each other,” Nagy said. “And you keep it real simple. You never stop fighting. That’s all you can do.”

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