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Chicago Bears: Missed Opportunities, Lack of Defensive Stamina Keys to Loss

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Chicago Bears: Missed Opportunities, Lack of Defensive Stamina Keys to Loss
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Bears defense let a late 14-10 lead slip away in a home game against a mediocre team, allowing the Seahawks to drive 97 yards for a go-ahead touchdown with time winding down in the fourth quarter. Then, the Bears miraculously forced overtime before the defense gave up the game-winning drive as Seattle shocked the Bears 23-17 at Soldier Field.

The defense obviously tired down the stretch, allowing that game-tying 97-yard touchdown and the game-winning 80-yard drive. But the defense is not really the one to blame. After all, the defense has been the reason this team entered the game atop the NFC North.

When the defense needed the offense to step up, the offense just wasn't up to the task. It moved the ball well in the first half, but failed to take advantage of opportunities to score more points. And in the end, that was the difference in the game.

With the loss, the Bears fall to second place in the NFC North as the Packers improved to 8-4, matching Chicago's record with the tie-breaker advantage. Sure, the Bears will still probably make the playoffs as they should be able to eke out at least two more wins, but this was a very disappointing outcome.

And, when all is said and done, that's really all a Bears fan can ask. For once the playoffs start, it is a new season, the opportunity is abundant, and the Super Bowl is ripe for the taking.

Look, I may be Captain Obvious here, but you can't dance with the homecoming queen unless you go to the party.

Meanwhile, let's take a look at some of the highlights and lowlights of this game. 

 

Bears almost stop two Seattle streaks

Seattle had a streak of 20 consecutive games with at least one sack yet failed to register one in Sunday's win over Chicago until late in the game, when Bobby Wagner got credit for a sack.

For the most part, the Bears' offensive line did a decent job of providing pass coverage, and although its run blocking wasn't as good as it has sometimes been, it was adequate.

When you consider that Chicago is playing with a line where almost everyone is playing out of position, this was a pretty stout effort.

Another streak that was stopped was Seattle's league-high consecutive games without giving up 100 yards to an opposing wide receiver. Brandon Marshall ended that as Jay Cutler's favorite target, and perhaps only consistent offensive threat, finished with 10 catches for 165 yards.

 

Jay Cutler was brilliant

As bad as this offense is, imagine how awful it would be without Cutler. He was magnificent with his arm and his feet on Sunday. Dropped passes, especially the one by Earl Bennett that should have gone for a TD in the second quarter, would have made his numbers even better.

Cutler hit a 56-yard completion to Marshall with time winding down in the fourth quarter, allowing Robbie Gould to send the game into overtime. He finished 17-of-26 for 233 yards with two TDs and no interceptions for a 119.6 QB rating.

But once again, Marshall was the only receiver whom Cutler could count on. In fact, No. 15 was the only wideout with more than one catch in the game. Cutler targeted Marshall 14 times versus only five times for all other receivers total.

 

Mike Tice's play-calling leaves a lot to be desired

Sure, Tice is a rookie at play-calling, but he doesn't seem to be getting any better. He called a run to Gabe Carimi and Jonathan Scott's side on the 4th-and-inches play the Bears failed to convert, when a QB sneak or a power run up the middle would have been a better idea.

Carimi was making his first-ever start at guard, and Scott has very little experience, and the play took too long to develop, giving the Seattle defense too much time to react.  

Further, no tight ends caught a pass for the Bears on Sunday. Kellen Davis was targeted only once. And, by the way, why aren't the Bears giving anyone else a shot at catching balls from the tight end position? They are quick to make changes on the defense, but Davis continues to start even though he stinks.

 

Missed opportunities

As I previously indicated, the Bears missed several opportunities to put more points on the board in Sunday's contest.

The first was the horrible drop by Bennett, who later left the game with a concussion. The other obvious example was the fourth down and half a yard when, instead of kicking a field goal—which would have won the game, by the way—they went for it and failed to convert.

Yes, the play-call by Tice stunk. But still, Michael Bush needs to convert that play. This is exactly why he was brought in by the Bears.

 

Is Russell Wilson really a rookie?

I ask this because he sure has a lot of poise for a first-year QB.  He matched Cutler with his play on Sunday, finishing just shy of 300 yards, and also had two TDs and zero picks.

Wilson led two very long drives to give Seattle a late lead and the game-winner in OT on Sunday.

He also ran the ball extremely well, and likely contributed to the Bears defense getting gassed in the fourth quarter. He finished with 71 yards on the afternoon.  

 

Miscellaneous

  • Yes, the Bears technically won the turnover battle, but did not really have the kind of spark they have shown in other games. But as I mentioned earlier, the defense couldn't possibly keep up that pace. It was time for the offense to step up and score more than 17 points.
  • Chicago also suffered more injuries, as Tim Jennings left the game with a shoulder injury and Bennett left with the concussion.
  • Matt Forte continued to struggle running the ball. He did finish with 66 yards rushing, but with just a 3.1 yard average. He did catch three passes, including a TD, which was more than any of the wideouts not named Marshall.
  • The Bears defense could not stop the run on Sunday. Fortunately for Chicago, Seattle only ran Marshawn Lynch seven times in the first half, despite the fact that he was averaging more than seven yards per carry. The Seahawks finished with 176 yards on the ground and a 5.5 yard average.
  • Brian Urlacher forced a fumble, but he also committed another horse collar for the second week in a row. That will result in an even higher fine for him this week. That's what happens when your knee and advancing age make you a step slower and you have to catch guys from behind.
  • The Seahawks had more first downs, more total yards—including more yards passing and running the ball—and won the time of possession battle.

 

Next up for the Bears is a trip to Minnesota to face the Vikings, with another must-win at stake, just like the last time these two teams met. Only this time, the game will be on the road, and so this is far from a sure win for the Bears.

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