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Improved Cardinals Defense Not Enough Against Bears

Missed plays haunt the group in close loss

S Tre Boston celebrates his second-quarter interception.
S Tre Boston celebrates his second-quarter interception.

Tre Boston spoke for himself, but likely encapsulated the feelings of the entire Cardinals' defense following Sunday's 16-14 loss to the Bears.

The veteran safety made a big play in the game, intercepting a first-half pass off a tip by defensive end Chandler Jones, but it was his near-miss in the second half that Boston couldn't shake.

"I don't feel good about having one interception," Boston said, "because I could have had two to help this team win a ballgame."

The Cardinals' defense unquestionably had its best game of the season, forcing two turnovers and bottling up Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, but wasn't ever able to land the knockout blow. Boston had a huge chance in the third quarter.

The Cardinals led 14-3 and Boston zeroed in on a pass. An interception would have stopped Chicago in the red zone and kept the Cardinals comfortably ahead, but Boston's feet got tangled up with those of Bears wide receiver Allen Robinson, sending Boston airborne and causing him to miss the pick.

Boston admitted it would have been an acrobatic interception, but thought he should have had it.

"I'll think of that tonight while I'm sleeping," Boston said. "That's just one you've got to come down with. I don't care how crazy it looks."

The Bears scored on a 1-yard touchdown run by Jordan Howard two plays later, cutting their deficit to 14-10 with 6:16 remaining in the third quarter. The Bears creeped to within 14-13 in the fourth quarter, and used a 13-play, 59-yard drive to set up a go-ahead 43-yard field goal by Cody Parkey with 4:31 remaining that ended up being the difference in the game.

Coach Steve Wilks was pleased with the team's early defensive performance – the Cardinals forced two turnovers and allowed three points in the first half – but was unhappy with a slew of penalties that contributed to Bears scoring drives.

Back-to-back roughing the passer penalties on defensive end Markus Golden and defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche helped lead to the Bears' first points of the game, an offside call on linebacker Haason Reddick kept a third quarter drive alive that ended in a field goal, and an unnecessary roughness penalty on Boston helped the Bears get in position for the winning kick.

"We hurt ourselves with the penalties and foolish things like that," Wilks said. "I think the biggest thing is one word: we have to be able to 'finish' in all three phases."

Boston didn't like how late the flag was thrown on him for a hit on a defenseless receiver.

"I would truly like to count down how long it took for them to throw that flag," Boston said. "We're talking about five football seconds, which is ten minutes. … Unfortunate, but this is the game we're playing these days."

While there were some things to clean up, the Cardinals' defense only allowed 316 yards of total offense on 69 plays, sacked Trubisky three times and forced the two turnovers. Nkemdiche had an impressive strip-sack, while the Cardinals' blitzes seemed to make Trubisky uncomfortable much of the day.

It was more in line with the expectations the group had heading into the season.

"We definitely feel like we made some progress," said safety Budda Baker, who finished with 10 tackles, two tackles for loss and a half-sack. "Guys were having fun. People were running around. We took another step."

Images from the Week 3 matchup against Chicago at State Farm Stadium