CHICAGO — Three locker room attendants formed a buffer around Connor Barth's cubicle as the media hoard closed in, pushing and elbowing for position.

"Guys! Let him get dressed first, please! Back off! He's not going anywhere," one attendant said.

Most athletes who cost their team a game would prefer to sneak out the back door if possible, but the snake-bitten place kicker was trapped Sunday.

In a game the Bears could've sent into overtime, Barth sent a 46-yard field goal attempt wide right with :03 remaining in the Lions' 27-24 win.

The eighth-year kicker has lived on borrowed time this season as coach John Fox regularly scours the waiver wire for a more dependable leg.

"It hit the ground a little bit and veered to the right," Barth said after his latest misadventure. "I don't expect anyone to defend me. I've just got to get back to work.

"I signed up for this. It's the life of a kicker."

The costly miss leaves him 11 of 16 this season, including 5 of 9 inside the 40-49 range where most games are won late.

"You make some, you miss some, and that was the case today," Barth said.

It marked the Bears' fifth loss by eight points or less in a game which saw them blow two 10-point leads.

"It's like everything. We are a production-based business. That's what we get paid to do, whether it's winning games as a head coach or making kicks as a kicker," Fox said.

"We will evaluate it. We will do everything we can to put the best team out there."

I'm not going to jump on Fox, now 12-30, for running the ship aground this season. He'll be gone soon enough.

He greatly impeded that final 10-play, 55-yard, two-minute drill led by fearless quarterback Mitch Trubisky, who ran twice for 34 yards.

Jordan Howard, Tarik Cohen and Adam Shaheen each scored a touchdown in the game, but all watched that series from the sideline.

Fox, as always, was clear as a London fog in explaining why.

"There are a lot of situations that a lot of people — including you all — don't get," he said. "It's a two-minute situation. We have Adam Shaheen, we have Mitchell Trubisky, we have Tarik Cohen. They are playing in their eighth game of their NFL career — as rookies.

"They have a lot on their plate as it is, and they can't do everything."

That's more baloney than the corner deli.

Howard ran for 125 yards, he and Cohen averaged more than eight yards per carry, and Shaheen caught the four passes he was targeted for.

And they're not on the field? Shame on you.

"No, it doesn't surprise me," Cohen said of being a spectator on that final drive. "If my number's called, I'll be there."

Trubisky defended his coach, of course.

"We're just playing to our strengths in those situations," he said. "We need more receivers out on the field. Benny (Cunningham) is a great protecting back and catches the ball well in the backfield.

"We definitely have enough playmakers in the game."

Are we still talking about the 2017-18 Bears?

As if all the losing doesn't stink, injuries continue piling up with Josh Bellamy (concussion protocol), Eddie Goldman (wrist), Kyle Fuller (wrist), Akeem Hicks (leg) and Leonard Floyd (knee), the latter being carted off.

"We'll keep coming out, fighting, every week," Marcus Cooper said. "Luckily, we got a great team and some guys are gonna have to step up."

Soon, Soldier Field may have an echo on Sunday afternoons.

The Bears boast the sixth largest fan base — 9.2 million nationwide — in all of professional sports and the third largest in the NFL, according to senior director of business development Brian McCaskey.

They have season ticket holders in all 50 states.

But at 3-7, fan interest is dwindling.

There were 10,145 no-shows Sunday.

You can't put a price on bad.

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