Barkley gives away 5 INTs in Chicago Bears loss

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Washington outside linebacker Preston Smith (94) sacks Chicago Bears quarterback Matt Barkley (12) during the first half of an NFL football game, Saturday, Dec. 24, 2016, in Chicago.

    Washington outside linebacker Preston Smith (94) sacks Chicago Bears quarterback Matt Barkley (12) during the first half of an NFL football game, Saturday, Dec. 24, 2016, in Chicago. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 12/24/2016 5:58 PM

In the first four starts of his four-year NFL career, quarterback Matt Barkley had given the Chicago Bears a chance to win every time.

But in Saturday's 41-21 loss to Washington, Barkley gave the Bears no chance. He threw 5 interceptions, including picks on four straight possessions to start the second half, dooming the Bears to a 12th defeat against just 3 victories.

 

Washington remains in the playoff race at 8-6-1.

Fortunately for Barkley and the Bears, there weren't many on hand at Soldier Field to witness the nightmare in person. Only 57,953 tickets were distributed, far short of a sellout at 61,500-seat Soldier Field.

An additional 18,116 who held tickets opted not to attend. That left just 39,837 to witness a sorry start to the holiday season.

A week earlier, when Barkley overcame his own 4 turnovers (3 interceptions and a fumble), he rallied his team to 17 fourth-quarter points and a tie late in the fourth quarter of a 30-27 defeat to the Green Bay Packers.

Afterward, he said he didn't see much standing in his way.

It was different Saturday.

"I think I was standing in my (own) way today, just in my own head," Barkley said. "Trying to do too much and trying to win the game when we were down. You just have to treat it as a 0-0 game, make smart decisions with the ball and give our guys a chance to win."

Given that the Bears' defense allowed a season-worst 478 yards, including 208 on the ground, the defeat can't be blamed entirely on Barkley.

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"I know he's the last guy with the ball in his hands," Bears coach John Fox said of Barkley, who is 1-4 as a starter. That's the same record as Jay Cutler and Brian Hoyer, who preceded him this year. "Everyone wants to look at the quarterback, which sometimes (he) deserves, sometimes not."

It would be hard to absolve Barkley of his second interception, on the opening possession of the second half.

Trailing 24-14 and near midfield, Barkley was partially wrapped up around the knees but lobbed a floater toward the middle of the field in the vicinity of Alshon Jeffery.

But Josh Norman, the NFL's highest-paid cornerback, made the first of his 2 interceptions, and Washington drove to a touchdown for a commanding 31-14 lead with 3:05 left in the third quarter.

"I thought I had my base," Barkley said. "I lost it as I was releasing (the ball), as I was getting pulled down."

Barkley's fourth interception was returned 79 yards by Will Blackmon to the Bears' 9-yard line to set up Dustin Hopkins' 20-yard field goal, extending Washington's lead to 34-14 with 12:53 remaining.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The 20-point defeat was a departure from the last 4 Bears losses, which were by a total of 18 points. In all of those games the Bears had realistic chances to win at the end, but not so this time in the loss that dropped Fox's record as their coach to 9-22.

When Washington's fourth-string running back, Mack Brown, went 61 yards for a touchdown with 57 seconds remaining, it was difficult to consider the Bears' effort competitive.

But Fox saw no quit in his team.

"I thought they were just as competitive as we've always been," he said. "(Washington was) a very-high-octane offense, anywhere between No. 3 and 2 in the league in most areas. We were going to try to keep them off the field. But with 5 giveaways to none, that kind of spoiled that plan.

"That has nothing to do with effort or those types of things."

This one was more about lacking enough talent to compete, especially at the quarterback position.

• Follow Bob's Bears reports on Twitter at @BobLeGere.

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