CHICAGO – Carolina's defensive performance against Chicago on Sunday was one of the best in franchise history.
But it came in a losing effort.
"It's all the same," defensive end Julius Peppers said after the 17-3 defeat at Soldier Field. "A loss is a loss no matter how it comes, no matter how good the defense thinks we played."
The Panthers allowed three points and limited Chicago to five first downs – a franchise record. Bears rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky completed just 4-of-7 pass attempts (tying a franchise record for completions against) and the Chicago offense compiled only 153 total yards – the fewest the Panthers have allowed since 2013.
But those numbers pale in comparison to the two touchdowns scored by Bears safety Eddie Jackson, who reached the end zone on a 75-yard fumble recovery and a 76-yard interception return. He became the defensive first player in NFL history with multiple 75-yard scores in one game, and he singlehandedly put this one out of reach.
"It just shows you it's a tale of who made the big plays," cornerback Captain Munnerlyn said. "They made big plays and we didn't."
Try as they might, the Panthers went another day without a takeaway (now four games without one in 2017).
But in the second half, with Chicago protecting a 14-point lead, the Bears weren't going to take any risks. So Carolina did what it had to do defensively, forcing three-and-outs on five consecutive drives.
But the deficit never changed.
"We got each other's back, offense and defense," said linebacker David Mayo, who made first career start in place of Luke Kuechly. "On the defensive side of the football today, our mindset was we got to stop them and give the offense another chance."
The offense wanted desperately to reward the defense's effort. Unfortunately for the Panthers, this was a defensive battle that belonged to the Bears.
"The whole offense was frustrated," wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin said. "The defense is giving us three-and-outs and we didn't put points up."
Because of that, a lights out defensive performance became known simply as a loss.
"We all lose together," defensive tackle Kawann Short said, "we all win together."
View the top photos from Panthers at Bears by team photographer Melissa Melvin-Rodriguez.