By Dan Durkin-
(CBS) Chances are, people who didn’t watch Thursday night’s Bears-Cowboys game live will see the final score on a television scrawl and be fooled into thinking think it was a competitive game.READ MORE: Chicago Weather: Wind Chill Advisory In Effect, Wind Chills Dropping Well Below Zero
Those who watched Chicago lose 41-28 to Dallas at Soldier Field and fall to 5-8 know better than that.
A late flurry of points and yards in garbage time skewed the box score. Once again, the Bears were dominated in all three phases of the game by a Cowboy team that imposed its will on a talent-poor, mistake-prone, fragile host.
Just as those who didn’t see the game played live shouldn’t be fooled, nor should any follower of the Bears be fooled into thinking that this team hasn’t raised the white flag on the 2014 season.
As has been the case all season, all it takes is one play to derail the Bears. Coming out of the half, the Bears were down 14-7 to the Cowboys. But a Matt Forte fumble sent them into their familiar tailspin, as the Cowboys broke the game open with 21 unanswered points in the third quarter.
“We came out on the first drive (of the second half),” Chicago coach Marc Trestman said, “and converted on third-and-long. We turned the ball over, and the game lopsided on us.”
Back in Bourbonnais in training camp, hopes sprung eternal and expectations were high, which Trestman embraced and welcomed. Thirteen games into the season, reality has set in, and Trestman’s faced with questions about his job security and the overall competitiveness of his team.
“Listen, there are no moral victories,” Trestman said. “We’re not playing well enough in all three phases to win on a consistent basis. That is definitely true.”READ MORE: View Live Radar
It’s impossible to point to any area on this team that has improved from where it was last season. The Bears have regressed into the NFL equivalent of a catfish, a bottom-feeder that save for two false-positive wins against teams that have won a combined seven games on the season has been dismantled over the past seven weeks.
“We are in the no-excuse business,” Trestman said. “We’re making too many mistakes, too many penalties, in all three phases. This certainly happened tonight, and it debilitated us.”
The problem is, that’s been the case all season, not just Thursday. Don’t forget this is the team that has yet to have anything but an excellent week of practice all year, according to Trestman. It’s tone-deaf messaging that has been tuned out by players, who are finding it hard to keep motivated.
“After every loss, early in the week it’s hard,” quarterback Jay Cutler said. “I’m not going to lie about that. It’s hard for guys to find the motivation, the energy and stuff to get going.”
With three games remaining and the possibility of officially being eliminated from playoff contention as early as this Sunday, players have nothing but pride and accountability to their teammates to play for over the final three games of the season.
“You never want to be in this situation,” Cutler said. “You never want to be in a situation where you’re playing for nothing, you’re out of the playoffs, you’re playing for pride. You always want to be in it in the end. Unfortunately, throughout the year, we’ve done some things to not give ourselves a chance.”
The Bears have done a lot of things to not give themselves a chance, and once again, the focus is already on the offseason with games left on the schedule.MORE NEWS: Many Chicago Area Schools To Close Or Go Remote Wednesday Due To Extreme Cold
Dan Durkin covers the Bears for CBSChicago.com and is a frequent contributor to 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter at @djdurkin.