Season on the brink: Bears out-prayed in Denver

December 12, 2011

I've talked about the phenomenon that is playing deep in December. You know, when it counts. Nobody wants a 5-8 team right now, cheering for their favorite team to play out the string. That could be our fate. It has been many times since Ditka. But there's nothing worse than watching your team collapse. It's turns your football world upside down. How could a team play so poorly for three weeks in a row and still have a chance at making the playoffs?

This squad will be remembered for being the most roller coaster of them all. One Sunday they can whip up on last year's number #1 seed. On another, it commits nine false start penalties in one game. They can go on the road and throttle Michael Vick. And then go on the road and squander a 10-point lead with less than four minutes to play. To have the pendulum swing that far and wide in one season is maddening. This was a team destined to be back in the NFC title game. But in reality, we are going to be crushed by the Seahawks.

Let's be honest. This team hasn't been beaten in this three game slide. But this team has lost.

Here are some other random observations from watching this game yesterday:

  • I had a great time watching the game yesterday with a crowd at Lincoln Hall. We (Schadenfreude) threw a viewing party where we turned the sound down and let some great comics and celebs call the game. It was fun all the way around. But it was probably the worst way to wrap up a show in the history of shows. After every performance, you get a little rush. But unfortunately, that adrenaline rush just seeped into my depression from the choke job I had just whitnessed. Not how I pictured the after-party.
  • Here were the plays that the crowd went crazy for: Tillman interception, Peppers/Idonije blocked kick, Hester punt return, Barber TD, Idonije fumble recovery, Gould field goal. That's it. That was every exciting play in the game yesterday.
  • Why is it that the running back for the Ravens, Packers, Steelers, Patriots, etc. can go down and easily be replaced to keep the team moving toward the Super Bowl? With the Bears, we never overcome injuries. I can't think of one backup during Jerry Angelo's tenure that stepped into a star's shoes and excelled. The drop-off in talent is considerable. And that simply cannot happen in the NFL. I don't think you can expect any player to play all 16 games anymore. Last year, we were relatively injury-free and we overachieved and made it to the playoffs. This year? We are more like every team with key injuries to key players. But this is where the Bears differ. Instead of having a Tyler Yates (Texans QB without his star WR), we get a Caleb Hanie. And really, think hard for the last Bear back-up to have made an impact. 
  • There is a lot of coverage about Tebow and his religion. For a guy who wants to downplay that (or does he?), he prays a ton on the field. Hey, I'm all for the prayer circle with other players at the end of the game, but he was caught praying at least four times before the game was over. That's a lot of prayer.
  • Marion Barber. This is the same running back who negated a TD last week because he didn't line up properly on the line of scrimmage? We let that go. But I don't know if we should have. This guy makes a ton of mental errors, eh? I can let the fumble go, only because that happens. But the going out-of-bounds to stop the clock and give the ball back to the Broncos was unacceptable. But I have to ask - did Barber improvise and bounce outside or was the play called to the left? See, that situation probably would have been the perfect time for the Bears patented HB Dive Center. Barber is kind of a jerk to media, too. He was burned in Dallas so he doesn't talk. He took to Twitter though and tweeted a prayer. Seriously?
  • The Broncos have the dumbest "fourth phase" in football. We get it. You are the Broncos. We don't need cowboy-themed cheerleaders and a honky tonk dude on a horse.
  • Brian Urlacher took a shot at Tebow in the post-game interview saying "He's a good running back." Um, Brian. Last I checked, the dude carved  you up for three consecutive drives for points. Not by running, but by completing 10 of 11 passes. That's like me writing this post before the 4th quarter. Shut up and finish the game. Maybe spend less time coming up with clever quips and beat the guy. Kind of embarrassing that you are even talking to the press.
  • Also, The Bears defense has a "man-up" problem right now. I'd love to see a statistical breakdown of their fourth quarter performances. It seems like Lovie's 'bend not break' defense breaks in the 4th. I know you can't shut out a team forever and you only gave up 13 points, but you know what you are playing with. And you gave up that 13 points right at the end.
  • I always love checking out the AP photo pool after a Bears' road game. Because usually it will be a local photog who takes the shots. It's fun to see what they end up putting up. We don't have cheerleaders in Chicago, so inevitably there are 40 photos of butts: