Bears' coaching under scrutiny after blown lead vs. Lions

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LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) — The Chicago Bears were rolling along with a 12-point lead at Detroit and just minutes away from a signature win.

They were on the verge of beating the NFC North leaders. And in a flash, they let it all slip away.

The Bears gave up 17 points in the final three minutes and lost 31-26 to the Lions on Sunday.

“You always look and say, ‘Should I have called this, should I have called that, should I be more aggressive here? Less aggressive there?’” coach Matt Eberflus said Monday.

There was plenty to dissect a day after the Bears blew a 26-14 lead, from the failure to take advantage of some early turnovers to the play-calling down the stretch on both sides of the ball. Playing a soft zone in the closing minutes, the Bears (3-8) were unable to stop the Lions.

There were some questionable calls on offense, such as back-to-back handoffs to Khalil Herbert that went nowhere rather than have Fields run or throw after Detroit got within 26-21.

Then, on third-and-9 at the Chicago 26, Fields launched a terrific deep throw that might have put the game away. Except rookie Tyler Scott stumbled a bit. He tried to make a lunging catch, but the ball slipped through his fingertips.

Fields, meanwhile, looked pretty good after missing four games with a dislocated right thumb. He completed 16 of 23 passes for 169 yards and a touchdown and posted a 105.2 rating. He also ran for a season-high 104 yards on 18 carries.

WHAT’S WORKING

Big plays. The Bears intercepted Jared Goff three times and recovered a fumble. They didn't commit a turnover until the closing minute, when Aidan Hutchinson strip-sacked Fields and Chicago's Darnell Wright kicked the ball through the end zone for a safety. Fields threw a 39-yard touchdown pass to DJ Moore and had a 29-yard run.

WHAT NEEDS HELP

Late-game situations. This wasn't the first time this season the Bears blew a big lead. They were up by 21 points against Denver in Week 4 at Soldier Field, only to give up 17 points in the fourth quarter and lose 31-28.

STOCK UP

Fields. The final seven games could go a long way toward determining Fields' future. And he had a good showing against Detroit. It was the third time in four outings he had a rating of 105.2 or higher, after struggling early in the year.

STOCK DOWN

G/C Cody Whitehair. Eberflus insisted the decision to go with Dan Feeney at center after Lucas Patrick suffered a back injury was about preparation. “You only can prep one center to back up, and Feeney was the guy to do that,” Eberflus said. Whitehair has started 117 games at guard and center since the Bears drafted him in the second round in 2016. But he's the odd man out at the moment. The Bears opted to switch Teven Jenkins back to his spot at left guard with right guard Nate Davis returning from an ankle injury and stick with Patrick at center rather than Whitehair, who struggled with errant snaps earlier this year.

INJURIES

Eberflus had no update on RB D’Onta Foreman (ankle) and Patrick, who were hurt during the game. ... LT Braxton Jones apologized for a tirade in which he could be heard screaming “I can't (expletive) see!” when he was ordered by the referee to get checked on the sideline during the third quarter. Jones said he got up too quickly and was dizzy as a result after he rolled and tumbled getting hit. “No need to react like that and I apologize for reacting like that," he said. "Just in the moment, I want to be out there for my teammates.”

KEY NUMBER

12 — The Bears have lost 12 straight against NFC North opponents and are 0-9 in the division the past two seasons under Eberflus and general manager Ryan Poles. Their overall record under Eberflus and Poles is 6-22.

NEXT STEPS

The Bears visit Minnesota (6-5) on Monday night. The Bears have lost five straight and six of seven against the Vikings, including 19-13 at Soldier Field in Week 6.

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AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl