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Chicago Bears: Week 7 game balls after the first home loss of the year

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For the first time since Week 3, the Bears find themselves out of first place after a second straight loss. Who earned Sunday’s game balls?

NFL: New England Patriots at Chicago Bears Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

For the first time in the 2018 season, the Bears have lost in back-to-back weeks. Sunday’s loss against the New England Patriots drops the team’s overall record to 3-3.

For a second straight week, there were plenty of ups and downs but once again, the Bears hung tough and lost by one score. Despite going down 14 points midway through the fourth quarter, they fought back and were one yard away from either tying the game or winning it (pending head coach Matt Nagy’s decision on the PAT). Regardless, this marks the third time in as many loses that the Bears have lost by seven points or less.

At some point the Bears will have to figure out how to win the close games but for now, this is a young team with a lot of talent learning how to play together and ultimately win.

For more on who earned Sunday’s game balls, let’s dive in.

TE Trey Burton

NFL: New England Patriots at Chicago Bears Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Burton’s performance on Sunday showed exactly why the team gave him a four-year, $32 million deal in the off-season.

The former Eagle lead all Bears pass catchers with nine catches for 126 yards and a touchdown. Not only did he pile up more than 100 yards through the air but he was second in targets and caught every ball thrown his way in a game where there were plenty of catch-able passes that hit the ground.

Currently, Burton is on pace for 64 catches, 867 yards and 11 touchdowns. That would obviously be a career high on every category for the soon to be 27-year-old.

Outside of Week 6, Burton’s targets, receptions, and yards have all trended upwards and fans can expect that to continue. It’s amazing how many times quarterback Mitchell Trubisky is able to find Burton wide open over the middle of the field, which is a testament to Burton’s route running ability.

On a day where there was plenty of bad, Burton stuck out as one of the only consistent players on the offensive side of the ball.

DL Bilal Nichols

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Chicago Bears Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Don’t look now but it appears that general manager Ryan Pace has found himself yet another mid-round gem. This time in the form of the fifth-round rookie from Delaware.

Nichols’ numbers on paper aren’t eye-popping (four tackles, a forced fumbled, tackle-for-loss and a quarterback hit) but his impact on the game was more than noticeable. Especially in a game where the defense struggled to get to Tom Brady or play consistently enough to win the game.

The rookie’s 34 snaps (53%), led the three-player rotation of Jonathan Bullard (21 snaps) and Roy Robertson-Harris (17 snaps).

Nichols’ first step has been quite noticeable, dating back to the preseason. But as he has become more comfortable in his first NFL defense, his production and overall impact has continued to grow as well. His forced fumble of Sony Michel in the first half way a big moment and allowed the Bears to take a 17-7 lead. He was also one of the few players to actually get a hand on Brady.

Overall, this was a big performance for the rookie and one that should give the Bears more hope that once Khalil Mack returns to health, this front seven can get back to the dominant force it was in the first four games of the season.

Honorable Mention: CB Kyle Fuller

NFL: New England Patriots at Chicago Bears Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports

In a game where not much went right on either side of the ball, Fuller’s performance was enough to get him this week’s honorable mention.

Fuller had a rough start to the season and has still yet to consistently play up to the standard he set last season. Even so, he notched his third interception of year in a big spot and finished the game with a pair of batted down passes.

With Prince Amukamara working his way back to full health due to a groin issue, and Bryce Callahan’s ankle injury popping up late last week, Fuller has been asked to step up and face team’s number one receivers the past few weeks and has done a pretty nice job in doing so.

Sunday’s performance was just another step in the right direction for the former first round pick.