CHAMPAIGN—The Bears defense had no answer for the defending Super Bowl champions Sunday and few plausible explanations after yet another unlikely twist in their bizarre season.
Blowing a 21-point third-quarter lead, the Bears saw two challenged plays go against them in the final minute of a 33-30 loss to the New England Patriots.
David Patten beat cornerback R.W. McQuarters for a 20-yard touchdown catch with 21 seconds left. The replay upheld the initial call that Patten dragged both feet inbounds in the back of the end zone.
"That was all me," McQuarters said. "It was third-and-3, and he gave me a little stutter move and went deep. [Tom Brady] threw the ball and put it in a good spot. I was playing kind of shallow. I should have been deeper."
Defensive end Bryan Robinson also was on the wrong end of a challenge. At first officials ruled that Robinson had made an interception and fumbled the ball before Rosevelt Colvin recovered it. Following a review, the referee determined that Robinson never had possession, meaning it was an incomplete pass.
"I felt like I had it, but the ref thought something different," Robinson said.
"That definitely was the play of the game. I don't know what mojo is working with this team, but it's not a good one right now."
The Bears defense had kept the Patriots in check throughout the first half.
"They went with the no-huddle in the second half and we couldn't get a stop when we really needed to," said defensive end Alex Brown, who recorded a pair of sacks.
"We just didn't close the game out," said middle linebacker Brian Urlacher, who was credited with nine tackles and an interception.
"It was like when we played New Orleans [blowing a 20-point lead earlier this season]. We went up big and just couldn't close the game out.
"In the second half we get too excited and start giving up big plays. They moved the ball down the field in small chunks and it worked for them."