The Chicago Bears had tons of chances to win on Sunday against the visiting Detroit Lions. But a mixture of bad play calling, costly penalties and missed opportunities plagued the Bears as they fell to 5-4 on the season.
Jay Cutler battled through a high-ankle sprain for two plus quarters before being pulled during on the final drive with two minutes left in favor of steady Josh McCown.
It was revealed on Monday that Cutler is listed as week-to-week with a high left ankle sprain that limited him for most of the second half. Cutler finished the afternoon completing 21 of 40 passes for 250 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
Head coach Marc Trestman admitted that he should have pulled Cutler sooner. The talks on the sideline were ongoing as Cutler, the coaches and the trainers decided to keep him in the game.
Cutler was still leading the team down the field in the game despite the pain in his ankle. The Bears did however arguably waste four drives in the second half leaving the team trailing heading into the final quarter.
The key plays that really plagued the Bears came in bunches. Starting with the decision in the second quarter to go for it on fourth-and-one on the Detroit 27-yard line.
Honestly, I loved the decision to go for it. It was a bold move, but it seemed like it was needed at the time considering the Lions went down the field for seven following the Bears' opening touchdown drive.
It appeared at that point in the game it was going to be a high-scoring battle. Trestman opted to bring backup running back Michael Bush in and he ran it up the middle behind lead blocker and fullback Tony Fiammetta.
That call was plain terrible. It reminded me of all the predictable calls Mike Tice and Mike Martz were making the past couple of years on offense. Trestman needs to throw that one out of his playbook immediately.
Cutler's interception with under one minute remaining in the first half didn't help the cause, but it was an aggressive play call on a drive where I thought they should have taken the three points and went into the locker room ahead at the half.
Alshon Jeffery dropped a first-down throw from Cutler that was right on the money. If Jeffery caught the pass, it would have tied the game up, 14-14, with under minutes left in the third quarter.
Some non-calls also hurt the Bears. Nick Fairley appeared to have gotten away with a roughing the passer on Cutler.
On the very next play Jeffery, who was targeted a game-high 18 times reeled in a Cutler pass and got up from the ground and was immediately hit by a Lions defender. No call on either dirty hit.
Calvin Johnson got away with a push off on Charles Tillman on his first touchdown grab of the day early in the third quarter. No call was made there as Johnson received the star treatment.
I'm not saying the officiating was terrible yesterday or it ultimately decided the winner, but it was certainly sporadic.
Following Chris Conte's biggest play of the year, an interception, the Bears set up at the Lions lined up at the Detroit nine-yard line with under 11 minutes left in the game.
The first play was a Matt Forte run, which at first glance looked like a touchdown, but the referees called it back as left guard Matt Slauson was whistled for a holding penalty.
I thought Lions' linebacker DeAndre Levy basically put his hands up in the air forcing the referee to notice him and make the call. That was the first missed opportunity on the drive.
Cutler found Jeffery for a five-yard gain on the next play and then Forte dropped a pass in the middle of the field on second-down.
The third-down call was brilliant as Cutler once again found Jeffery, which initially appeared to be a touchdown grab to put the Bears up 17-14. However, upon further review Jeffery didn't have possession the whole way through the catch.
It was a great effort by both Cutler and Jeffery, but the Bears settled for a field goal and trailed, 14-13 early in the fourth quarter.
I knew after the Bears couldn't punch in a touchdown following the Conte interception that they were doomed.
McCown came in at the end of the game and was very effective, completing six of nine passes for 62 yards including a beautiful touchdown pass to Brandon Marshall, his second TD grab of the day.
The Bears had their chances. They had many of them. But bad play-calling and a terrible performance out of the backfield cost them.
38 rushing yards is unacceptable. The offensive line wasn't getting any push as the Bears basically abandoned the run in the second half.
Roberto Garza failed to block Fairley on the two-point conversion trailing 21-19. Forte had no chance from the one-yard line with the way the line was playing for the Bears on Sunday.
Trestman should have given McCown a chance to take it in himself from the one-yard line or even toss it up to the two best playmakers on the team, Jeffery or Marshall.
The Bears left too many points on the board on a day where a touchdown drive or two would have won them their sixth game of the season.
The play-calling has to change moving forward or this team will be in big trouble. Creativity is what helped them win over Green Bay two weeks ago.
With McCown back under center for at least this next game against the Baltimore Ravens maybe Trestman can bring back some of that Monday night magic to this offense.
At 5-4, this team is still right there in the race in second place in the NFC North.
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