Coach Lovie Smith said afterwards that he should have taken the field goal in the second quarter rather than go for it (unsuccessfully) on fourth and less than a yard. The decision may have been curious, but more was responsible for the Bears letting the Seattle Seahawks leave Soldier Field with a win.
The Bears could have been up 17-0 at the midpoint of the second quarter. But they eschewed a field goal and failed on a fourth-and-one at the Seattle 15, and Earl Bennett dropped a wide-open TD pass. The offense was respectable but put up basically the average point total (17) that Seattle allows (16.8).
The offense finished with 358 yards, the first of eight times they have gotten more than 250 yards and lost in 2012. This game marked the first time in the 26 games when Jay Cutler has had a passer rating of 100 or better than the Bears have lost.
Jay Cutler was confronted with first-rate pressure from Seattle edge rushers Bruce Irvin and Chris Clemons, with big physical corners covering favorite-target Brandon Marshall. But he was accurate and finished with 17 completions in 26 attempts for 233 yards and two touchdowns without an interception, and a rating of 119.6.
The performance was even more noteworthy because he was without injured receivers Alshon Jeffery and Devin Hester and proceeded to lose Earl Bennett to a concussion late in the first half.
Cutler ran four times for 27 yards and displayed more than simply settling for a few yards. Three of his four runs picked up first downs.
RUNNING BACK B-
Matt Fortes falling-down catch at the goal line in the third quarter was a game-changer, a 12-yard TD catch to take advantage of two Seattle penalties.
The Seahawks committed early to stuffing Forte and he managed minus-2 yards on his first four carries, but Michael Bush got tough yards on very physical carries in the fourth quarter.
Forte (21-66) and Bush (7-39) accounted for 105 rushing yards and Forte was a factor in the pass game after Bennett was hurt. Forte caught three passes for 30 yards.
Brandon Marshall was targeted on 14 of Cutlers 26 pass attempts, catching 10 for 165 yards. His 56-yard grab late in regulation gave the Bears a chance for the game-tying field goal and he repeatedly made difficult catches against Seattles physical corners
Earl Bennett turned a takeaway into points with a 12-yard TD pass on the first possession, his first TD since Nov. 7 last season vs. Eagles. But he will surely remember even more the drop of a ball five yards behind any Seahawk defender earlier, costing the offense a score. His leaving with a possible concussion in the first half was a major setback to a receiver corps already missing Alshon Jeffery and Devin Hester with injuries.
Kyle Adams blocking helped get Bennett into the end zone. Evan Rodriguez caught a pass for a first-down pickup.
OFFENSIVE LINE B-
The revamped line of JMarcus Webb-Edwin Williams-Roberto Garza-Gabe Carimi-Jonathan Scott stood up well against the interior power of the Seattle front and allowed some pressure but few hits from a very good pass rush.
James Brown in his first NFL experience worked as the third tight end and threw a key seal block on the right edge for a third-down Forte conversion.
The Seahawks finished with one sack of Cutler and Bears running backs averaged 4.4 yards per carry after Seattles initial burst of holding Forte to minus-2 yards on his first four carries.
This is a tough one and depends on whether you believe the fourth-down try was a good idea or bad one.
Play design on Earl Bennetts 12-yard TD catch on the first possession was superb. Bennett was started on the right side, motioned all the way across to the left and was all alone. Coaches also beautifully structured the TD pass to Matt Forte coming out of the backfield, outside Brandon Marshall and into a coverage mismatch.
The Seahawks stuffed Matt Forte on his first four runs but the offense ran seven times vs. nine passes in the first quarter, which helped Marshall against safety help. The Bears finished with 28 called running plays to 27 pass plays, plus four Cutler runs that were not necessarily breakdowns in protection but more his choice.
But the decision to go for a fourth-down conversion at the Seattle 15 in the second quarter was surprising, against a good defense in game without much scoring expected. Coaches effectively took points off the board early in the game and allowed the Seahawks to steal momentum.
And yet, it was a chance to stick an early dagger in the heart of a good but wavering Seattle defense. Even after the miss on Bushs run Lovie Smith was correct, a team should be able to pick up less than one yard with a 240-pound running back the Bears were giving Seattle the ball at its 15-yard line. It should not have come down to a missed half-yard.