Lovie: It's one game and no more than that

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Lovie: It's one game and no more than that

Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2011
Posted: 5:26 p.m.

By JohnMullin
CSNChicago.com BearsInsider Follow@CSNMoonMullin
Lovie Smith gets credit for keeping a sense of perspective in place for his players. Every game of an NFL season is a big deal, but Smith also knows how to parcel out the weight of any particular game.

Like this one coming up against the Atlanta Falcons. First games are sometimes viewed as season direction-indicators, team-definers. And they are huge games. Sort of. Depending on how the Bears do.

The years weve won, Ive put a lot into it. Im pumped up about it, Smith joked. The years we havent, then its not thats important.

But seriously, folks

It is one game and no more than that, Smith said. I dont think it counts any more but it does give you an idea of where you are, because you really dont know. No team really knows.

Smith has had some practice with assigning value to a first-game win or loss. From 2005-2011, only in 2006 (Green Bay) and 2010 (Detroit) did the Bears open against a team not coming off a playoff season or beginning one that would culminate in reaching the playoffs.

Working in the Bears favor is that the Falcons have not won in Soldier Field since 1983. Jay Cutler was four months old then. It was, coincidentally, the opening game of that season.

Smith insisted you really cant think ahead. Who do we play the second game anyway?

No answer. Thats what I thought, he said.

Whoever it is, thats a long time away.

That would be called focus.

Capn Crunch

Roberto Garza is replacing Olin Kreutz as the Bears starting center. He also is replacing Kreutz in the role of co-captain, along with Cutler, of the offense. Given that Garza is the clear head of the young offensive line, this is an obvious pick.
Julius Peppers and Brian Urlacher are the returning defensive captains and long snapper Patrick Mannelly represents special teams.
He said what?

Matt Forte said Wednesday that he did not think GM Jerry Angelo lied about the desire to get something worked out before the season. But in Fortes mind, Angelo was being less than accurate in his portrayal of negotiations breaking off.

Angelo said that the decision to suspend contract negotiations with Forte was a mutual understanding; the two sides obviously had solidly different basic negotiating assumption.

He said that? Forte said. I didnt say that. I guess it wasnt mutual. But that was his decision. I cant really decide if we continue to talk or not. Hes the one we walk to, so the doors always open on my end.

Sick bay

Running back Marion Barber, bothered by a calf injury suffered in the preseason game at Tennessee, did not practice for the second day this week, raising concerns about his readiness for Atlanta.

Nose tackle Anthony Adams (calf), wideout Sam Hurd (ankle) and defensive end Corey Wootton (knee) were limited in practice. Woottons return to practice is a good sign for a defense that needs the edge rushing he was demonstrating in camp.

John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.

Bears, Lions have been totally different teams in fourth quarters

Bears, Lions have been totally different teams in fourth quarters

Apart from any specific player or statistic, one unavoidable part of Sunday’s game against the Detroit Lions looms ominously in front of the Bears, and there is no way they can avoid it: The fourth quarter.

Every game has one, and it has been the blessing of the Lions’ 2016 existence and the bane of the Bears’. The Bears talk constantly about the importance of playing a 60-minute game.

Before last Sunday’s 28-13 win over the New Orleans Saints, the Lions had trailed in the fourth quarter of all seven of their previous victories this season. A team that had traditionally found undisciplined ways to squander games has been finding ways to win them, according to a formula.

As Detroit Free Press columnist Jeff Seidel noted, “every single one of these games has looked the same: There was the drive, the field goal and the huge defensive play or, at least, some variation of those things."

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This is particularly relevant — and concerning — for the Bears, who have been the virtual opposite: Three times this season (at Houston, at Indianapolis, vs. Jacksonville) they have led in fourth quarters and lost those games.

The reasons lie in different phases, not simply cases of one, same unit failing.

"With us it’s not excuses, but we’re young, on our third quarterback, and that can affect it as far as experience and just being in that situation,” said coach John Fox. “To close the game, sometimes it’s just a mindset. When you have young players, it’s learning how to deal with adversity and learning how to deal with prosperity.”

The Bears did not outscore an opponent in the fourth quarter of any of their first 10 games this season, finally getting something going late in the Tennessee and San Francisco games, outscoring those two opponents by a combined 19-3.

“Being able to finish games, that’s something we’re learning and I think I saw examples of it last week in the San Francisco game and even going back to Minnesota, games where we have closed it, even in the first Detroit game, although we made that one interesting,” Fox said. “We found a way. So a lot of it’s experience under pressure and hopefully we’re figuring it out and can figure it out the last four games of the year.”

Beginning Sunday, presumably, against the NFL’s reigning comeback team.

Brandon Marshall doesn't remember 3 TD game from Bears-49ers in 2014 because he was on pain pills

Brandon Marshall doesn't remember 3 TD game from Bears-49ers in 2014 because he was on pain pills

Remember back in 2014 when the Bears rallied from a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter to beat the 49ers 28-20 in San Francisco on Sunday Night Football?

Well, Brandon Marshall doesn't.

And he had three of the four touchdown catches, two of them coming in the last quarter.

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The former Bears wide receiver, who had been dealing with a high ankle sprain, said he took pain pills before the game and doesn't recall much of it, including the incredible one-handed grab that went viral.

"I don't really remember much about that game because I worked really hard to get back from a high ankle (sprain)," Marshall said during a conference call Wednesday. "I'll say it, I took a couple pain pills that masked the pain. I really wasn't supposed to play. I came back from a high ankle (sprain) within 10 days. I was supposed to be out four to six weeks. I don't remember much from that game. I just remember catching those balls. And that was pretty much it."

If only Bears fans could forget that season entirely, which ended in a 5-11 record and the end of the Marc Trestman era.