In meetings between two defense-based head coaches, Lovie Smith has taken a 2-0 lead on his former defensive coordinator. And a certain irony ran through a some critical moments Sunday.
Smith has been excoriated by critics for the bend-dont-break of the Cover-2 base defense he favors and for failing to be flexible with what detractors decry as an outdated scheme.
But it was Ron Rivera who was victimized by apparent inflexibility and, ironically, the Cover-2.
Kellen Davis caught a 12-yard touchdown pass from Jay Cutler in the fourth quarter when he found the open space behind linebackers in the Cover-2 that the Panthers were playing.
We got a Cover-2 down there and its good for me up the middle, said Davis, who was the secondary receiver on the play after Earl Bennett. It gave me a bunch of space in the middle out there.
After I cleared the linebackers, I had room out there and I wanted the ball. When I get past the linebacker, if he sits, Ive got him.
Davis said he expected to see a more customary alignment of quarters (four defensive backs in a line across the field). Curiously, in the Bears minds, the Panthers were locked in something like that all through the final drive that ended in Robbie Goulds game-winning field goal.
The Bears were prepared for the Panthers to change as the offense clicked methodically down the field. But when Carolina didnt vary, Cutler kept dropping dimes out there to Brandon Marshall and well do that all day, Davis said.
Fine with Marshall if the Panthers wanted to cheat as well.
Well if they did, we were going to have Earl Bennett down the pipe so we were waiting for them to cheat a little bit to my side and we were going to take advantage of Earl in the slot, Marshall said. They didnt do that and we just stuck to it. So if its not broke, dont fix it.