This Bears' 21-13 loss to their hated archrival Green Bay Packers was a combination of awful officiating, a miserable Bears offense, bad coaching and too much Aaron Rodgers for the Bears to recover.
With the win the Packers clinch the NFC North on Chicago's home field and the Bears limp away with their playoff hopes hanging by a thread.
It is a sickening feeling.
The only saving grace for the Bears is that they play Arizona next week and they should beat a terrible Cardinals club. Then again, nothing is certain the way the Bears have been playing.
Rodgers to Jones
Aaron Rodgers hit James Jones in the end zone three times for touchdowns, while the Bears were only able to put up one touchdown on the afternoon at Soldier field. Three of Jones' five receptions went for TDs.
I hate to make Jay Cutler shoulder the blame, as he has had bad receivers (except Brandon Marshall) and awful protection for much of the season, but his interception in the second quarter was just a bad throw that seemed to turn the game around.
Meanwhile, Rodgers was able to move the ball downfield, and it just shows the difference when a team has a truly elite QB.
On the day, Rodgers ended with 291 yards passing, three TDs and no interceptions for a 116.8 passer rating. Cutler, meanwhile, had just 135 yards passing, with a TD and that interception for a 72.5 QB rating.
While Rodgers hit Randall Cobb, Greg Jennings and Jones 15 times, Marshall was the only Bears WR to catch a pass.
Green Bay had 14 first downs passing while the Bears had just six. They were two-for-two on fourth-down conversions while the Bears were unsuccessful on their only attempt, albeit due to a bad non-call by the refs.
I'm normally not one to blame the officiating crew, and the Bears did not lose just because of it. However, it would be blind to overlook the way the refs chose to call pass interference on Alshon Jeffery repeatedly, yet failed to call an obvious hold on the final fourth down play from Cutler to Jeffrey at the end of the game.
Yes, Jeffery is a rookie and must learn that he is not Marshall and won't get away with the push-offs. Just like in the NBA where the star players often get away with murder, rookies just don't get the same treatment.
Still, when a receiver is clearly interfered with, as Jeffery was on fourth down, that is simply inexcusable. You can obviously see Jeffery's jersey being pulled on the play. And even on the last offensive interference call against No. 17, the Packers defender hit Jeffery with his arm before Jeffery committed his foul.
Another bad call was made on Julius Peppers when he was flagged for a late hit on Rodgers.
So, yes, it was bad officiating, but in the end, the Bears lost because their offense cannot seem to do anything.
If the Bears replace Lovie Smith, they need to get a head coach who understands how to hire the right people to run the offense. The Bears have been worse than average in every year that Smith has been the coach, except in 2006.
Even of they retain Smith, the Bears must go out and hire an offensive mind like a Norv Turner (if he finally gets the axe in San Diego) and replace the not-ready-for-prime-time signal caller Mike Tice.
The unimaginative play calling with first-and-goal on the five-yard line was pathetic. They had to settle for a field goal, with Olindo Mare doing his best Robbie Gould imitation on the day, even putting several kickoffs into the end zone and making both of his field goal attempts.
The Bears didn't attempt one pass to a tight end, while the Packers hit supposed "idiot" Jermichael Finley five times. the Packers offense totalled 391 yards to the Bears' 190.
Lack of proper communication by the coaching staff led to what could have been a crucial penalty on Blake Costanzo for not getting off the field on time, giving the Packers a first down in the second quarter.
Wild Card Hopes
It may come down to the final week at Detroit for the Bears to have a chance to win a Wild Card spot. If they beat Arizona—and they should—they will likely seal a spot in the playoffs with a victory over Detroit in Week 17.
Arizona's home record is the same as the Bears road record at 3-3, depending on the outcome of Sunday's game against the Lions. they beat Seattle, Miami and Philadelphia at home, while the Bears have beaten Dallas, Jacksonville and Tennessee on the road.
In terms of common opponents, both teams lost to Minnesota on the road by identical scores (21-14). So maybe the Bears aren't any better than the Cards after all.
Smith's coaching future with the Bears, as well as the future of players like Brian Urlacher and Julius Peppers, may be dependent on the Bears at least making the playoffs, though it's hard to see the Bears beating anyone in the postseason at this point.