Morning Box Score: Bears Find Way To Beat Lions 19-14
By Benjy Lipsman in News on Sep 13, 2010 2:00PM
The 2010 Chicago Bears are awful, and Lovie Smith needs to be fired. There is no other way to deal with the debacle we saw at Soldier Field on Sunday. No matter that the Bears managed a 19-14 win when Jay Cutler connected with Matt Forte for a 28-yard touchdown inside of two minutes and a Calvin Johnson touchdown for the Lions was controversially waved off in the final 30 seconds. If there is such thing as a moral victories, this was the definition of moral defeat. The Bears played at home against a Detroit Lions team who had lost 20 straight road games. A Lions team that had won two games in the past two seasons. A team that lost their starting QB to injury just before halftime. And yet the Bears needed a miracle finish to win the game.
When looking at the stats, it should've been the blowout many expected. Quarterback Jay Cutler threw for 372 yards while completing 23 of 35 passes, two for touchdowns (and an INT on the Bears' second possession) for a QB rating of 108.3. Matt Forte caught those two touchdowns, accumulating 151 yards receiving along with 50 yards on the ground. Turnovers and poor play calling at crucial times, however, killed the Bears' offense time and time again on Sunday. Forte fumbled twice, the team losing one. They also lost the ball on fumbles by Cutler and Greg Olsen. In four trips inside the "red zone," the Bears managed just two field goals. Perhaps the posession most indicative of the team's offensive woes came after the Bears recovered a fumble less than a yard from the Lions' end zone, while trailing 14-13 in the fourth quarter. After being held out of the end zone on the first three plays, Lovie Smith decided to go for the TD on fourth down -- instead of sending out Robbie Gould to kick the go-ahead chip shot field goal -- and failed.
Defensively, the Bears played well. They held the Lions to 168 yards of total offense and kept the Lions from gaining a single first down in the second half until the final drive of the game. Of course, the Lions had backup QB Shaun Hill in for the entire second half after Julius Peppers, making his Bears debut, knocked starter Matt Stafford out of the game on a sack and forced fumble shortly before halftime. Brian Urlacher is back to form, recording eight tackles, three for losses and also his first sack since 2007. The defense also limited star wideout Calvin Johnson to just 45 yards on four catches.
It was Johnson's non-catch near the end of the game that has everyone debating whether it was a catch or not, and whether the NFL's rule needs to be changed. Officials ruled that while Johnson came down with the ball and got two feet in bounds, because he did not complete the process by letting the ball go once it hit the ground, it was not a completion. Whatever the letter of the law, it sure as hell looked like a TD. Such a critical call, costing a team a win, is sure to get the league to re-examine the rule.
The Bears should have lost on Sunday. They did just about everything in their power to give the game away and were lucky to escape with a win against one of the league's worst teams. The Bears will now face teams among the NFC's elite the next three weeks. Mistakes like those made on Sunday will surely cost them against Dallas, Green Bay and the Giants. A win just might have saved Lovie Smith's job for now... but will the coach who famously divides the season into quarters remain on the sidelines when the second quarter begins? We're not so sure.