A relief and reprieve from all of the Chicago Bears' trials and turbulence was there for the taking.
Then it all vanished as quickly as a seemingly insurmountable 21-point lead can disappear.
Despite holding a three-touchdown lead after almost three quarters, the Bears lost to the previously winless Denver Broncos, 31-28, on Sunday to fall to 0-4 for the first since in 23 years.
The offseason offered a surge of free-agent signings and new hope that a turnaround was in store after a three-win 2022, but Chicago has now lost a league-worst 14 games in a row dating back to last season.
"When you're 0-4, no one's done the job well enough," Bears head coach Matt Eberflus answered when asked if he'd done his job well enough after such high expectations. "That's just the facts. It's a results business, and we have to do a better job collectively as a group. Again, we're working hard to do that. And I thought the guys put a better step forward, coaches included, and players, of putting our players in position and then executing. I thought that was better today."
Having lost each of their previous three games by double-digits and their Week 3 game to the Kansas City Chiefs in blowout fashion, 41-10, the three-point differential might look like progress on paper. However, blowing a 28-7 third-quarter lead reads more like another gut-punch in a season that's been nothing but.
In addition to the losses, Eberflus has taken over for defensive coordinator Alan Williams, who stunningly resigned after two games. After a Week 2 loss, quarterback Justin Fields created a storm of controversy when he indicated coaching could be the reason he was "robotic and not playing like myself." He quickly walked back the comments, but it's seemingly been a weekly occurrence of bad news for these Bears. The latest was wide receiver Chase Claypool being a healthy scratch on Sunday just a few days after he told the media he did not believe he was being used in the best way.
Claypool, like other inactives, was not in attendance at the game. Eberflus said he was unsure as to why, but a team spokesperson later told the media the receiver was asked not to attend the game.
"We told him that it was a choice, and he is at home right now," Eberflus said.
Fields supported his teammate when asked if he wanted Claypool to be a member of the Bears, but underscored the wideout, who was acquired last season in a trade with the Pittsburgh Steelers for a second-round pick, has an issue keeping his sentiments in check.
"Do I want him on this team? Of course," Fields said. "Chase is a weapon, he's passionate, and he just has to work on his display of his emotions. And me and him have had multiple conversations of that, but as far as do I want him on the team, that's an easy answer, yes of course."
Any dramatics or distractions surrounding Claypool were hardly the biggest Bears problems on Sunday, though.
After a Fields fumble was returned for a touchdown to make it a 28-28 tie ballgame, the Bears drove down to the Denver 18-yard line. With a chance at a 35-yard go-ahead field goal, the Bears went for it on fourth-and-1 and were stuffed. It was a baffling call to many.
"Because of the way we were running it," said Eberflus of going for it with a Khalil Herbert run that was stopped for no gain. "And it was a half a yard. I felt very confident about getting that right there. Every situation is different. You've got to look at the game in its entirety, and I think that the way we were running the football and the confidence we had on offense in that moment, I would say that, we're going to do that right there."
The Broncos, who just a week earlier had lost 70-20 to the Miami Dolphins, did go for a field goal on their ensuing drive and Wil Lutz converted from 51 yards.
Still, Chicago had another chance to remedy its ills or at least force overtime.
Fields drove the Bears to the Chicago 47 before throwing an interception that was intended for Cole Kmet. Moments later after the final seconds ticked off, Fields was seen dejected on the bench.
"I gotta be better in that situation, and yeah, we've just got to finish," he said.
The Bears' bad news continues on and off the field, and for a 14th straight week, they've yet to finish off a victory.