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By Chris Emma–
CHICAGO (CBS) — In the aftermath of defeat, Bears rookie running back Jeremy Langford hung his head toward the locker room floor, then looked up to the glare of camera lights waiting. Langford had to answer for a 23-20 loss to the Vikings on Sunday in which he dropped a third-down pass that ended an attempt at a game-winning drive and preceded Minnesota kicking a game-winning field goal in the final seconds.
Nickelback Sherrick McManis had a similar task, emerging his head from a state of despair over and owning up to reporters about missing a tackle on Stefon Diggs on the Vikings’ game-tying touchdown late in the fourth quarter. Moments like these are trying for rookies and veterans, starters or reserves.
For all the glory that comes with playing professional football, answering the questions of tough loss is a brutal feeling. On Sunday, the Bears left Soldier Field with plenty of mistakes and regrets to carry.
“We’re all hurt about it,” Bears tackle Kyle Long said.
Long roamed the locker room in the postgame scene offering support to teammates, as did several other Bears players after they fell to 2-5. These defeats hurt a team fighting so hard for victory.
But the reality is this is a team of — quite frankly — many replacement-level parts. That was ever so evident on the touchdown to Diggs, in which the Bears missed steady nickelback Bryce Callahan, an undrafted rookie and largely a practice-squad player who had suffered a concussion. Instead, it was McManis, a special teams standout who has struggled at cornerback.
“I got to do my job,” McManis said. “That was my guy.”
Disappointment was clear throughout the Chicago locker room. This group believes in itself. The Bears earned a comeback win over the Raiders on Oct. 4 and then went to Kansas City and rallied to beat the Chiefs. The Bears have been in these situations before and earned triumphant victories.
The Vikings (5-2) are a good team, but the Bears simply beat themselves, as they did in Detroit two weeks ago. The sense of belief in each other makes the defeats hurt that much more.
For what the Bears boast in heart, they lack in overall team talent.
To the Bears’ credit, they’ve handled losses like Sunday’s admirably. In 2014, Marc Trestman’s team was overcome with in-fighting, caused by embarrassing losses piling up one after another. This group vows to be better from bad days like these.
“It’s bad, it’s bad,” Bears linebacker and captain Pernell McPhee said. “But as a team, we can’t hang our head — we just got to go back to the chalkboard tomorrow and learn from our mistakes.”
Added safety Antrel Rolle: “We got to stand up to the challenges. That’s what it boils down to.”
There were positives for the Bears to take from this game. Quarterback Jay Cutler was sensational again — “Another ballsy effort by Jay,” Long said — while Alshon Jeffery made several impossible catches look easy in his 10-catch, 116-yard day. Meanwhile, Vic Fangio’s defense put together another solid effort, keeping pressure steady on Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
Yet, the Bears also lost Matt Forte to a right knee injury, one that they must hope isn’t serious. In his place came Langford, the rookie, who dropped the ball when his team so desperately needed a catch.
It was symbolic of the day. The Bears dropped the ball on another game they had won.