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‘Terrible day’ for Bears’ defense

Updated: October 21, 2013 10:54AM

LANDOVER, Md. — Bears safety Chris Conte was having a tough day but relished the opportunity for atonement when Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III threw a high pop-up for Aldrick Robinson into the end zone in the fourth quarter of a tie game.

Unfortunately, Conte had such a bead on the ball he lost sight of Robinson. He bumped into the wide receiver and fell to the ground, allowing Robinson to make a 45-yard touchdown reception to give the Redskins the lead — five plays after Josh McCown had led the Bears to a tying touchdown.

‘‘It was a pick for me for sure — all the way,’’ Conte said. ‘‘I can’t ­believe it didn’t come my way. That’s the most frustrating part. I wanted to come back and make a play for the team and wasn’t able to do it.

‘‘I was looking at the ball. I was all on the ball and wasn’t ­really paying attention to him. I got tangled up with him and fell down, and they ended up making a good play. It was unfortunate.’’

It was that kind of day for Conte and the beleaguered and short-handed Bears defense in a 45-41 loss to the Redskins on Sunday at FedEx Field.

‘‘It was a terrible day,’’ Conte said.

On the spot coming into the game, the defense allowed 499 yards, 28 first downs, 20 plays of 10 yards or more and 38 points. They lost Pro Bowl linebacker Lance Briggs (shoulder) and Pro Bowl cornerback Charles Tillman (knee) to injuries in the second half.

And like Conte, they had a chance for redemption and blew it. After McCown had rallied the Bears into the lead with a seven-yard touchdown pass to tight end Martellus Bennett with 3:57 to play, the defense needed a stop to seal what would have been an uplifting victory.

But without two of its best playmakers — Briggs and Tillman — a defense with a knack for willing itself into a difference-making play couldn’t come up with one. Griffin converted three third-down plays and frustrated the unit on a 12-play, 80-yard touchdown drive that saddled the Bears with the loss.

Despite all the yards and points the Bears allowed, that’s what hurt the most — given the chance to make the difference, the defense couldn’t do it.

‘‘That last drive is all on us,’’ cornerback Tim Jennings. ‘‘Somebody’s got to make a play. The offense gave us everything we asked for. It was all on us that last play. I can’t emphasize it enough: Somebody has to make a play on that last drive.’’

For what it’s worth, Jennings and his fellow defenders didn’t hide from the truth or the responsibility. Jennings was beaten twice by wide receiver Pierre Garcon on the final drive, including a seven-yard reception on third-and-five from the Bears’ 44.

‘‘I couldn’t ask coach [defensive coordinator Mel Tucker] to put us in better positions,’’ Jennings said. ‘‘I take it upon myself — giving up a couple of hitches, comeback routes. Those are plays I should make. I’ve got to start with myself and realize, ‘OK, somebody needs to make a play.’ I can only look at the plays I was supposed to make.’’

Still, while accountability was rampant in the Bears’ locker room, solutions were not.

‘‘They made plays, and we didn’t,’’ Conte said.

The reality is that the defense kept digging and only ended up in a deeper hole. With Briggs and Tillman injured, it might get worse before it gets better.

‘‘We had a chance to win the game. We didn’t win it,’’ Julius Peppers said. ‘‘That’s what causes the frustration. It doesn’t matter what the score was. You gotta make plays and get off the field. It’s pretty simple.’’


Twitter: @MarkPotash

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