The Chicago Bears’ defense did its part in Sunday’s 49-29 loss to the Cowboys to create a running back controversy in Dallas. Perennial pro bowler Ezekiel Elliott missed Week 8 with a knee injury, which opened the door for Tony Pollard to rush for 131 yards and three touchdowns while averaging more than nine yards per carry.
“They had a good game plan, and that’s that,” Bears linebacker Roquan Smith said after the loss. “Defense, we never can allow someone to score that many points on us. That’s embarrassing. We have to look ourselves in the mirror and go from there because that’s what it is all about. Just have to look at each individual play. And the play of each player.”
It was a frustrating effort. In a week that the Bears’ offense scored enough points to win most games, the generally reliable defense looked like anything but. Smith played a big role in the defense’s letdown, totaling only 4.5 tackles in a game that he had plenty of opportunities to do more.
“That’s inexcusable,” Smith said of the touchdown he surrendered to tight end Jake Ferguson in coverage. “Like I said earlier, it starts with me. Defense, we didn’t play to our standard, it’s unacceptable, and it started with me. We all have to get better with our individual assignments.”
“We got to get consistent,” safety Eddie Jackson said after the game. “We can’t keep up and down, up and down, you know? We got to play at a level where we can keep it consistent. That’s everyone’s individual responsibility to prepare well, be on top of your keys in the game. That’s really what it is. If we want to go somewhere far, make it to the playoffs, we can’t do that. It’s not going to work.”
Sunday’s loss was a critical one for Chicago. Their playoff chances took a big hit by falling to Dallas. The Cowboys are tracking as one of the three NFC wild card teams because of the success their NFC East foe Philadelphia Eagles are having. Had the Bears won, they’d be just one game behind and ahead in the tie-breaker. Now, the Bears are left chasing the New York Giants (6-2), who they lost to in Week 4, and the San Francisco 49ers (4-4), who they defeated in the season opener.