Chicago Bears struggle in loss to Broncos

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Nov 22, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears kicker Robbie Gould (9) scores a field goal against the Denver Broncos during the first half at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Special Teams: B

Oddly enough, the only Bears’ unit that played above average Sunday is the one that’s been consistently the worst unit on the team.

A weak spot all year, the coverage units were solid Sunday against Denver. Denver didn’t attempt to return any punts from Pat O’Donnell, and the Bears limited Denver return man Omar Bolden to just 45 yards on three kick returns.

Robbie Gould kept the Bears in the game with three field goals, and continues to be the most reliable factor on Chicago. He’s 23 of 26 on field goals this year, good for almost 89 percent.

O’Donnell’s game was uneven, as he launched four punts for only 137 yards, good for about 41 yards per kick. He landed two inside Denver’s 20, and there were no returns on any of his punts, so the Bears’ weak punt coverage unit wasn’t put in much jeopardy.

O’Donnell did manage to pin Denver at its 12-yard-line with two punts, which lowered his kick average but set the Broncos up with bad field position. On the other side, kicking from his own 18, O’Donnell only managed a 34-yard punt, setting Denver up with excellent field position. The defense held the Broncos without a first down on that drive, but O’Donnell did them no favors with the shank job.

The Bears’ own return game was non-existent, with Marc Mariani returning one punt for only four yards, while Deonte Thompson had two kick returns for an average of 27 yards.

Hopefully, the coverage units’ solid play will continue and Gould will continue to be steady. The Bears used to be known for good special teams, but since 2013 it’s been a nightmare, with poor tackling, not staying in lanes and giving up long returns and touchdowns.

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