Morning Box Score: Bears Fall to Packers
By Benjy Lipsman in News on Sep 14, 2009 2:20PM
As if the the debut of supposed franchise "savior" Jay Cutler wasn't enough, playing a nationally televised Sunday night game and playing against the arch rival Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field meant we Bears fans were revved up for Week 1. By the end of the night, however, our excitement and optimism had turned to dejection as the Packers outlasted the Bears 21-15 in an ugly opener. That the Bears even had any chance to win the game was a bit of a miracle, but they actually took a 15-13 lead with less than three minutes to play. Unfortunately, it was one of those nights where if anything could go wrong, it did.
Jay Cutler looked more like Rex Grossman as he threw three interceptions while completing 8 of 22 passes for 107 yards in the first half. Running back Matt Forte was mostly ineffective, rushing for just 55 yards on 25 carries in the game. And yet the Bears entered the locker room at halftime down just 10-2. The defense scored the team's only points of the half on a safety when Danieal Manning sacked Aaron Rodgers in the end zone.
The Cutler who showed up under center in the second half played much better, completing 9 of 14 for 170 yards. He connected with Devin Hester for 36 yard TD pass, to cut the Packers' lead to one early in the third quarter. A Robbie Gould field goals gave the Bears a 12-10 lead heading into the final period. The lead bounced back and forth as the Packers kicked a field goal and then Gould hit another one for the Bears inside of three minutes to play. Needing to get into field goal range for yet another lead-changing kick, Rodgers instead managed to connect with Greg Jennings for a 50 yard game-winning TD. Cutler had led a number of dramatic fourth quarter comebacks in his young career, but on Sunday night that was not the case. Instead, Cutler threw his fourth interception in the game's final minute -- killing any slim hopes of a come from behind victory.
Perhaps the oddest play of the night was when the Bears were forced to punt from deep in their territory early in the fourth quarter. Long snapper Patrick Mannelly, thinking he could catch the Packers with too many men on the field, snapped the ball to Garret Wolfe instead of punter Brad Maynard. Caught off guard, Wolfe was unable to gain the necessary nine yards for the first down, and Lovie Smith's challenge to prove 12 players on the field was unsuccessful. The Bears gave the Packers excellent field position that led to their lead-changing field goal and it cost the Bears a critical timeout.
Adding er... injury to insult, the casualties piled up for the Bears on Sunday night. Brian Urlacher, who had finally looked healthy after being plagued by back and neck injuries the past couple of seasons, dislocated his wrist. He's expected to have surgery today -- how long will he be on the shelf? But Urlacher wasn't even the first starting linebacker to leave the game -- weak side linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa went down during the game's very first series with a knee injury. A knee injury also claimed cornerback Trumaine McBride. On the other side of the ball, tight end Desmond Clark and offensive lineman Frank Omiyale both left the game and did not return.
We can only hope that most of those injured can heal quickly. The banged up Bears welcome the Super Bowl Champion Pittsburgh Steelers to Soldier Field next Sunday.