The Bears lost Sunday. And lost. And lost. And lost.
They lost a game 17-7 to the Green Bay Packers. They lost their lead in the NFC Central Division and are tied with the Packers at 9-3 overall, but they trail their traditional rivals because they lost both head-to-head meetings.
They lost their inside track on home-field advantage in the playoffs. They lost their string of 20 straight games of holding backs to fewer than 100 yards rushing.
They even lost some of the composure that has been their trademark under coach Dick Jauron. Defensive players got caught up in the frustration and urgency of the moment and chirped at offensive coordinator John Shoop just before halftime about his play-calling and the need to get the ball into the end zone.
That didn't help either. The offense couldn't score even a field goal after Brian Urlacher returned an interception 41 yards to the Green Bay 17 with 32 seconds left in the half. The Bears advanced to the 5-yard line only to have usually reliable kicker Paul Edinger miss badly on a 23-yard field-goal attempt that left players standing with hands on hips in a mixture of disgust and disbelief.
They lost over and over the chance to take control of a statement game that was winnable. They allowed big plays on defense--12 of the Packers' 65 plays gained 10 yards or more--and didn't make them on offense. They converted only twice on 12 third-down plays, their worst percentage all season, and netted only 189 yards, their fewest since the opening-day loss at Baltimore.
"I didn't think anyone was particularly `on' today," Jauron said. "This was not a particularly good day for us."
The Bears and Packers each have 9-3 records and four games left. The Packers play no team with a record above .500. The Bears host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-5) next week. Because of the Packers' edge in any tiebreaker, the Bears need to win one more than the Packers to win the division title.
"For the big picture, it is awfully good for us with four games remaining," Jauron said. "It's just such a disappointing day that the big picture doesn't mean much to us right now."
The Bears fell behind on the opening possession as the Packers became only the third team in 12 games to score an offensive touchdown in the first quarter against them. Brett Favre, who completed 15-of-27 passes for 207 yards for the game, threw short passes to wide receiver Antonio Freeman and fullback William Henderson, who turned those into 33- and 16-yard gains, respectively.
Favre finished the drive with a 3-yard flip to Freeman for the touchdown.
The Bears had no answer. They were shut out in a first half for the first time since Game 2 and managed only one touchdown for the third straight week. More revealing, they reached Green Bay's half of the field on five of seven possessions in one stretch yet scored only once. Running back Anthony Thomas followed crushing blocks by tackles Blake Brockermeyer and James Williams and receiver Dez White to score the Bears' only touchdown on a 19-yard run on the opening possession of the second half.
"We're just not executing," said wide receiver Marty Booker, who was held to two catches, his second fewest of the season. "We're getting the opportunities and just not capitalizing on them. Right now we're not playing offense the way we should."
The Packers were playing offense well enough to leave little doubt that, for now, they are superior to the Bears. Of the three highest yardage totals amassed against the Bears this season, two belong to the Packers, including Sunday's 352.
After the Bears failed to net even a field goal from possessions starting at the Green Bay 45 and 41, Favre effectively put the game away. Starting from the Green Bay 9, he evaded pressure in his own end zone and threw 20 yards to tight end Bubba Franks. From that point he and his offense methodically pushed the Bears backward until Ahman Green covered the final 12 yards on a sweep around his left end to put the Packers up 14-7.
The run made Green, who finished with 125 yards, the first back since Minnesota's Robert Smith on Oct. 15, 2000, to rush for 100 yards against the Bears.
Safety Darren Sharper intercepted an underthrown Miller pass intended for Booker two plays later. From midfield the Packers drove to the Bears' 9 before Ryan Longwell converted a 27-yard field goal to end Jauron's run of Bears wins at Lambeau Field at two.
"We had momentum and field position in the third quarter," Brockermeyer said. "We weren't able to get down the field. After that the momentum seemed to change."Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times