The lingering question during the first half of this NFL season has been whether the Bears' offense can score enough to cover for its defense.
Sunday was a test case.
The answer was no.
"We just didn't have enough," head coach Marc Trestman said. "(Washington) had the ball one more series than us."
The result was that the Bears lost 45-41 at FedEx Field in Landover, Md. The blame game is played all the time in Washington, but it's difficult to sentence anyone on the Bears to capital punishment for their record dropping to 4-3.
Unless maybe safety Chris Conte, that is.
Other players were being helped off the field in all forms of disrepair, leaving the Bears to try to win this game with the likes of Josh McCown, Marquess Wilson and Blake Costanzo (before he too left with an injury).
Who would have thought that losing quarterback Jay Cutler wouldn't have been the Bears' most significant medical setback of the day? More significant turned out to be injuries to linebacker Lance Briggs (shoulder) and cornerback Charles Tillman (knee).
The Bears' defense isn't very dependable to begin with, but playing without two of its most dependable players made stopping quarterback Robert Griffin III essentially impossible.
Washington compiled 499 total yards, converted 7 of 13 third downs and had five drives of at least 70 yards -- including an 80-yarder for the winning touchdown.
Trestman was correct. If the Bears had more than merely 45 seconds to respond on their final possession they just might have rallied to win.
Backup quarterback Josh McCown certainly played well enough after arriving late in the first half, when Cutler hobbled off with a groin injury.
A shootout already was in progress. Washington kept scoring and McNown enabled the Bears to keep up in the second half.
If anything, the Bears' offense functioned better after McNown entered than it had before Cutler exited.
"Josh did a great job," Bears' running back Matt Forte said.
So the Bears will have a quarterback controversy if Cutler ever heals, right?
No, no, no. This is Cutler's offense. It's his team. If he can play at anywhere near 100 percent, it's his job.
"Have you seen him throw?" McCown said when asked what Cutler does better than he does.
Trestman certainly would say, "Jay is our quarterback." The Bears could get by without him for a half at Washington but not for the rest of the season.
The Bears are entering a bye week, giving them until Nov. 4 at Green Bay -- which just happened to work back into first place in the NFC North on Sunday -- to sort out whom they'll have and whom they won't have and what they'll be able to do and what they won't be able to do.
Two weeks in the hot tub and a few extra practices provide quality time to heal wounds and massage psyches.
Two weeks is a long time in America: Enough vacation time for employers to give new employees and enough notice for departing employees to give employers.
But two weeks doesn't seem nearly long enough for the Bears to piece together a defense that their offense can be proud of. Even if Briggs and Tillman return from the break healthy, it might take two years, two college drafts and two free-agency periods for the Bears to contain a quality opposing offense with a quality quarterback like RGIII.
"We're just going back to work," Trestman said. "The only way to recover is to go back to work. Getting healthy the next two weeks will help."
Contact Halas Hall if you know of a cure for what ails Jay Cutler, Lance Briggs and Charles Tillman.