The Bears seemed to turn the corner in last week's upset victory over the Steelers.
If they did, they ran smack into the wall of reality Sunday, crumbling 16-3 to the mediocre Detroit Lions.
A gapers' block of 72,777 fans in the Silverdome, including busloads of disappointed Bears fans, witnessed two teams heading the wrong way with, mercifully, one week left in the NFL season.
Bears coach Mike Ditka, who has one year remaining on his contract, doesn't sound like a man who knows which way he is heading, either.
The Bears fell to 5-10 with a five-and-dime offense that netted only a 24-yard field goal from Kevin Butler in the third period and 242 total yards, their lowest output of the season.
"I think you have to look at everything," Ditka said on his WGN radio postgame show. "I think we have to look at ourselves. I've been talking for a long time that this is what I want to do and I have to rethink myself, too. Because unless I have the control of what I'm doing, I don't want to do it anymore.
"I really mean that. That is essential to me. Right now I don't know. I feel like there are some things that are a little out of whack. I'm not blaming anybody, and certainly not feeling sorry for myself.
"But I think everybody has to get on the same page in the organization. Where we want to go, what kind of players we want to go there with, and how we are going to get there. Then we have to make a concentrated effort to get there."
Quarterback Jim Harbaugh, who later complained of the ineffective schemes and adjustments from the coaching staff, completed only 11 of 24 passes for 108 yards. He was sacked four times, threw an interception and lost a fumble. Peter Tom Willis took over late in the fourth period and connected on only four of 11 attempts and was intercepted twice.
In their five victories, the Bears have committed just one turnoveran interception against Tampa Bay. In the 10 losses, they have thrown 20 interceptions and lost nine fumbles.
"I think a hit-and-miss offense is fine, but it ain't going to win you a whole lot of games," said Ditka, who walked away from offensive coordinator Greg Landry on the sideline at one point and quipped that he "had a cramp" and had to walk it off.
"We have to be keyed into exactly what we want to do versus what the defense does. The same thing on defense."
The Bears sacked Lions quarterback Andre Ware five times and forced him into two interceptions in his second NFL start.
"I think we have to make up our mind that we're either going to pressure people or we're not," Ditka said. "If we're not, then we really have to get some people who can cover."
Last week, the Bears seemed to summon great emotion in Mike Singletary's final home game. Sunday, they appeared less inspired.
"The difference is not emotion so much, it's execution," said Ditka. "We didn't execute. You can't blame it on emotion. Our guys wanted to play. They (Lions) came out and hit a big play on the first play. Then they hit a big play. It's execution. It has nothing to do with emotion."
The Lions took the game's opening drive 72 yards in seven plays before settling for a 22-yard field goal from rookie Jason Hanson.
Ware's deep pass intended for Herman Moore was intercepted by cornerback Donnell Woolford, but the Bears went three plays and out on that possession.
The Lions then marched 93 yards in nine plays with Barry Sanders (113 yards on 20 carries), going the final six yards on the first play of the second quarter to give Detroit a 10-0 lead. The drive included passes of 35 and 13 yards to Brett Perriman.
A spectacular 59-yard pass reception by Moore after leaping and bobbling the ball twice set up the Lions' final score of the half, a 38-yard field goal by Hanson for a 13-0 advantage.
The Bears got on the board with 3:09 left in the third quarter when Butler booted a 24-yard field goal at the conclusion of an 84-yard drive.
Woolford intercepted his second pass of the day back at the Bears' 10 to launch the drive.
But the Lions again countered with a 30-yard Hanson field goal with 1:55 left in the game for the 16-3 lead.
The Bears' 242 total yards paled in comparison to the Lions' 399. Darren Lewis ran for 43 yards on eight carries and Neal Anderson, playing in nickel situations, carried just five times for 21 yards against a blitzing defense that often fashioned a seven- or eight-man "Bear" front that outnumbered the Chicago blockers.
"We worked against the 'Bear' all week," said Ditka. "But every time we went against the 'Bear' (Sunday), we panicked. I don't know if people were open. I don't know if Jim was pressured. I can't see that from the sideline." Sunday's loss means the Bears must upset the Cowboys in Dallas next Sunday to avoid their worst record since 1975, when they were 4-10.
"I would assume that we're on the bottom," said Ditka. "That's as bad as I can remember us playing."
Asked about the team's inability to conjure up emotion similar to last week, Ditka responded angrily: "That's bull, that's corn, that's nothing. It's playing, it's covering. It's hitting, it's tackling, it's running, it's executing on offense. And we didn't do those things. It is not emotion. It's execution."
The Lions (5-10) won back-to-back games for the first time this season.
"We're pretty bad right now," said Ditka. "The only way we can go is back up, I guess. Maybe we're resilient enough to bounce a little bit."
The Bears have not won a road game in December since 1987, a 6-3 triumph over the Raiders in Los Angeles. They have not beaten the Lions in the Silverdome since 1989.
While Bears President Michael McCaskey will make any decision about Ditka's future, Ditka indicated he must have greater control over the offense, defense and player personnel.
"I'm going to make a decision, too," said Ditka. "The only way I'll (continue coaching the Bears), is if I control it."Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times