The Bears are 5-4 and trailing the Detroit Lions (6-3) almost irretrievably in the NFC North division after Sunday’s 21-19 loss. It was a defeat in large part the Bears’ own fault.
“We kind of just beat ourselves,” said wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, a young man of extremely few words but extremely eloquent in their simplicity.
The defeat was the more painful because it came while the Aaron Rodgers-less Green Bay Packers were losing at home to the Philadelphia Eagles. And it left the Bears with two losses to the Lions, costing them any tiebreaker hope.
“We’re going to need some help,” Brandon Marshall said.
Coming up short against the Lions in particular was galling. Marshall caught two touchdown passes, including the one from Josh McCown with 40 seconds remaining that gave the Bears a chance to tie. But it was not enough to wash away the rancid taste.
“(I) don’t like the Detroit Lions,” Marshall said. “Really don’t like them. “I’m sure there are some good people in Detroit, but as far as their football team, I can’t wait to see them in the playoffs.”
That will take some trickiness elsewhere in the NFC. The Bears went from pulling away in the division to looking up at the San Francisco 49ers and Carolina Panthers, both with better conference records than the Bears, and needing to keep winning to hold a tiebreaker edge on the Packers. They will face the Eagles on Dec. 22 in what will be a head-to-head determination.
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Many gaffes, not just one
The problems vs. Detroit were myriad and not the kind of mistake litany a successful team makes.
The Lions went in at halftime on high despite netting all of 134 yards. No one blocked defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh low to bring his hands down on a quick slant from the Detroit 4, resulting in a deflection and interception of Jay Cutler’s pass that squandered a 13-play drive and more points.
“It is what it is,” Cutler said. “Single-high coverage (by the safety), we had a great window there and it got tipped.”
They were unable to convert a fourth-and-1 and one two-point conversion with two chances, courtesy of a personal foul on the Lions after the first one failed. On the second, running back Matt Forte was tackled for a loss on a play Lions defenders told CSNChicago.com they knew was coming.
“Felt like we had it,” said quarterback Josh McCown. “Just didn’t get it executed well.”
They eschewed a field goal with the ball at the Detroit 27-yard line in the second quarter and failed to convert a fourth-and-1.
“The field position was such that, if we don’t get it, they have to go the long field and we’ve eliminated the kickoff,” coach Marc Trestman explained.
They committed a holding penalty on a first-and-goal from the Detroit 9-yard line, ultimately forced to settle for a field goal, four fewer points in a game decided by two.
Jeffery had a touchdown pass go off his hands and was unable to come down with a second in the corner of the end zone that was ruled a touchdown, then reversed.
“When I came to the sideline, I told (the coaches), ‘I don’t know about this one,’” Jeffery said.
He might as well have been speaking about the entire game. And the rest of the 2013 season.