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Blunders leave Bears on life support
As Seahawks defensive end Darryl Tapp recovered a fourth-quarter Rex Grossman fumble, Bears fullback Jason McKie remained on his knees a few feet away from the play, agonizing over another squandered opportunity.
"I was just [mad]," McKie said. "I don't know, man. We're just killing ourselves. It's simple to see. Nobody really is doing it to us. It's what we're doing to ourselves."
The Seahawks had a hand in pinning a 30-23 loss on the Bears at Qwest Field on Sunday.
The most memorable play from the defeat that dropped the Bears to 4-6 might have been Grossman's fumble—a result of not protecting the ball while defensive end Patrick Kerney chased him down from behind.
But to say Grossman's blunder is the reason the Bears lost the game would be inaccurate. The fact is, the much-criticized quarterback, starting his first game since Week 3 against the Cowboys, played a solid game.
Yet the Bears still dropped to 4-6 and virtually out of playoff picture, again.
"I'm sure the chance of us going is pretty slim, but it's still a chance," cornerback Charles Tillman said.
Despite being sacked five times, Grossman completed 24 of 37 passes for 266 yards with no interceptions and a passer rating of 86.1, good enough numbers to at least keep him as the starter going into next Sunday.
The problem was Matt Hasselbeck played better.
The Seahawks quarterback looked like one of the league's elite, picking apart the Bears' defense by completing 30 of 44 passes for 337 yards with two touchdowns and a passer rating of 106.
Hasselbeck, sacked twice, kept the Bears' defense on its heels most of the day, even picking on the Bears' best defensive back, Tillman.
"When you give up over 300 yards passing, you don't like that," coach Lovie Smith said. "We would have liked to have sacked him a few more times. We are still looking for a bunch of interceptions to come our way."
Having nickel back Ricky Manning Jr. on the field instead of Hunter Hillenmeyer wasn't enough to help the Bears' cause.
"Hasselbeck is a great quarterback," Manning Jr. said. "He did a lot of things out there to buy himself more time, buy the receivers time. He knew what we were in a lot.
"They just played a great game. And despite that, we were still in it."
The Bears pretty much were—the Seahawks didn't nail it down until they recovered an onside kick with 13 seconds left, following Robbie Gould's 48-yard field goal.
Grossman's turnover led to Josh Brown's 46-yard field goal that gave Seattle a 30-20 fourth-quarter lead and left the Bears needing two scores to catch up. Thanks primarily to their own mistakes, they were playing catch-up most of the game.
The first blunder came in the second quarter on an unnecessary-roughness penalty on special-teamer Rod Wilson, who hit punt returner Nate Burleson clearly out of bounds. That gave the Seahawks the ball at the Bears' 32. Four plays later, Maurice Morris ran it in from 19 yards out, giving Seattle its first lead at 14-10.
Then, after Adrian Peterson answered with a 5-yard touchdown run for the Bears, Gould booted the ensuing kickoff out of bounds, giving the Seahawks the ball at the 40 with 1 minute 16 seconds left before halftime. Seattle converted that field position into Brown's 40-yard field goal that tied it 17-17 at the half and deflated the Bears' first-half momentum.
Finally, there was Trumaine McBride. He had been playing well in place of injured cornerback Nathan Vasher but made a rookie mistake when he attempted to jump a pass route but came up short, allowing Hasselbeck to hook up with D.J. Hackett for a 59-yard completion. The play resulted in another Brown field goal, this one from 23 yards out, that put the Seahawks up 27-20.
Such miscues spoiled a good effort by Cedric Benson, who broke loose for a career-best 43-yard touchdown run on the game's first series, marking the first time all season the Bears scored on their first possession.
Benson had 73 yards on his first five carries but ended up with just 11 attempts for 89 yards. Afterward, offensive coordinator Ron Turner acknowledged Benson should have had more touches.
But Benson was smiling after the game, sounding optimistic that the Bears still had something to play for, even though a 4-6 record makes them a playoff long shot.
"We can't get down on ourselves," Benson said. "Of course, it hurts now at the moment. Got a long way to get back home. ... You've got to be positive."