The fourth game of the season brought opposite feelings for the Chicago Bears and Kansas City Chiefs.
Panic started to settle in for the Chiefs, who have lost three straight after a season-opening win. Relief finally came for the Bears, who avoided setting the longest losing streak in franchise history.
Kansas City will try to keep the sky from falling Sunday against a Chicago team looking for its first road win since last October.
The Bears (1-3) didn’t have any victories since November until a 22-20 win over Oakland last Sunday. It was the first win in the John Fox era, and he was happy to see his players enjoy it after getting outscored 74-23 in their previous two games.
”I was really happy to see smiles in there,” Fox said. ”I’m really happy for our fans because we haven’t exactly lit it up here at home in the first two opportunities.”
After snapping a team-record-tying eight-game losing streak, Chicago will now try to end a five-game skid on the road. The Bears lost 26-0 to Seattle in their only game away from home this season in Week 3.
In place of the injured Jay Cutler, backup Jimmy Clausen failed to move the offense against the Seahawks. Cutler returned against the Raiders and finished 28 of 43 for 281 yards and a pair of touchdowns with an interception.
Cutler threw another fourth-quarter pick, his second in two full games and third overall, but he completed 5 of 8 passes for 41 yards during a game-winning drive that ended with Robbie Gould’s 49-yard field goal with 2 seconds left.
Cutler returned from a hamstring injury suffered during a 48-23 loss to Arizona on Sept. 20, and top receiver Alshon Jeffery hopes to return this week from the same injury that has kept him out three games.
The question now is the health of the offensive line, which lost center Will Montgomery for the season when he broke his left leg early against the Raiders. The Bears, already without tackle Jermon Bushrod (concussion/shoulder), shifted Matt Slauson from guard to center and moved the newly acquired Patrick Omameh into Slauson’s regular spot.
”It happens at a lot of positions in a lot of football games in the National Football League,” Fox said. ”All your backups have to be ready to play in a moment’s notice, particularly in the O-line because it is such a group dynamic.”
The offensive line was one of several problems for the Chiefs in their latest ugly loss. Kansas City (1-3) allowed five sacks during a 36-21 loss at Cincinnati, upping its NFL-leading total to 19. The Bears have just six sacks.
After committing five turnovers and fumbling away a 31-24 home loss to Denver on Sept. 17, the Chiefs surrendered 893 yards combined in a 38-28 defeat in Green Bay and last week against the Bengals – a statistic they ranked seventh-best in the NFL in last year.
Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton threw for 321 yards last week as Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard combined for four rushing touchdowns.
The Chiefs have allowed 30 points or more in three straight games for the first time since the final game of the 2010 season and the first two of 2011. Coach Andy Reid hardly spoke with the media following the loss in Green Bay, but he seemed more optimistic Monday.
”I had a chance to talk to them on the plane ride back, and they take accountability for things, too,” Reid said. ”It’s one of the reasons I like this team. We have a bunch of young guys. We just have to eliminate some stuff. If we do, we can be a pretty good football team.”
Kansas City has an opportunity to improve its record during a stretch of three of four games at home prior to its bye week. After Chicago, the Chiefs head on the road to play 2-2 Minnesota before hosting a Pittsburgh team that will likely still be without Ben Roethlisberger and winless Detroit.
Chicago plays in Detroit and, after its bye, hosts the Vikings. The Bears then face a challenging stretch against San Diego, St. Louis, Denver and Green Bay.