SEATTLE — The good news for the Bears in their Friday nightmare in the Northwest is that at least they got multiple looks at candidates for kickoff returner. And if there are concerns with the punt-return game, they didn’t show, simply because the Seattle Seahawks weren’t forced to punt the first five times their No. 1 offense had the ball. That will have to qualify as good news in another poor performance by Bears special teams amid a crushing loss to the defending Super Bowl champions.
The bad news was that they had many, many chances to work on kickoff returns and audition returners because of the really bad news, that the No. 1 defense barely managed even to slow down the Seahawks offense in a game in which the Bears were down 31-0 after 30 minutes of play.
Coverage units were their own catastrophe. Percy Harvin returned the opening kickoff 46 yards to set up Seattle’s first touchdown. Earl Thomas ran a second-quarter Pat O’Donnell punt back 59 yards, stopped short of a touchdown only by O’Donnell running him down from behind.
Even Robbie Gould was sucked into the spiral, missing wide right from 47 yards in the third quarter.
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The bad news started even before kickoff, as Chris Williams was unable to play because of continuing problems with the hamstring injury suffered in the preseason opener against Philadelphia. The situation leaves Williams with only next Thursday’s game in Cleveland as his chance to win the return job that remains an issue for the Bears.
More bad news for the Bears: No one took particular advantage of the opportunities — four in the first half as the Seahawks scored the first five times they had the ball, capped off by a 59-yard field goal by Steven Hauschke as time expired in the second quarter.
Michael Spurlock, already with the first shot at the job, took the first kickoff back from the Chicago 1 to only the 19. Darius Reynaud was given the second return and got a slightly longer return (21 yards), but the field position at the Chicago 17 left the offense starting in a difficult hole against an elite defense.
Spurlock got a second look but elected not to bring the Seattle kickoff back from six yards deep in the end zone — a curious move in a situation where every return will factor into a decision being made difficult because no one has stepped forward to make much of an impression.
Reynaud took the opening kickoff of the third quarter, returned it 19 yards to the Chicago 12.
Finally, the Bears gave another look to Senorise Perry, who hadn’t returned a kickoff or punt this preseason. The rookie running back produced a 27-yard runback to give the offense its only starting point beyond the Chicago 20 in the first half.
Perry’s return earned him another shot at the job after a Seattle field goal in the third quarter and netted 24 yards, though only to the Chicago 19.
Reynaud was back to receive a Seattle punt in the fourth quarter, made the catch securely but was flattened with a blow to the head by Ricardo Lockette covering the kick, which drew a 15-yard flag.