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Bears Left to Wonder About Loss : Chicago Offense Fails to Deliver Big Plays Behind Harbaugh

Times Staff Writer

The grass stains still fresh from a Monday night television appearance that bordered on indecent exposure, members of the Chicago Bears’ offense were left to ponder what had happened during a 23-3 loss to the Rams at Anaheim Stadium.

To a man, the explanation was obvious. They didn’t know.

“It’s hard to say why,” said Bear Coach Mike Ditka.

“I don’t know what went wrong,” said Bear quarterback Jim Harbaugh.

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“We just didn’t execute,” said running back Neal Anderson. “Who knows why things like this happen? They just do.”

Well, the Ram defense had a lot do with it of course, which the Bears were more than willing to acknowledge.

“You’ve got to give them all the credit in the world,” Ditka said.

But the Bears’ offense did lack something Monday. Spirit maybe, yards for sure.

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Consider that Harbaugh, in his second year in the league and making his first start at quarterback, was the Bears’ second-leading rusher with 32 yards. That left him just 16 yards shy of Neal Anderson’s 48.

“I think I played a very average game, which is frustrating because I don’t consider myself an average player,” Anderson said.

A guy can say that when he comes into a game having rushed for 913 yards and 11 touchdowns.

The Bears started 6 drives at their 30 or better; the Bears’ deepest penetration in the game was to the Ram 21.

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“We didn’t make any big plays in this game,” said Bear center Jay Hilgenberg. “You don’t win games in the NFL if you don’t make big plays.”

Oh, the Bears made big plays. The defense intercepted Ram quarterback Jim Everett 3 times.

“Our defense gave us a lot of opportunities,” Harbaugh said. “They played a great game and we let them down.”

Harbaugh completed just 11 of 36 passes for 108 yards and had 2 passes intercepted. Still, Ditka and his team made it clear that the offense’s troubles were not totally Harbaugh’s fault.

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“I think to say it’s the quarterback’s fault is a cop-out,” Ditka said.

A good point, since the Bears fell flat on their facemasks together and in front of the whole nation. That includes a social club up north known as the Minnesota Vikings (10-4), who have won their last 5 games and are within a game of NFC Central Division-leading Chicago (11-3).

Did the Bears feel the Vikings eerie presence? You beat your Ouija board.

“Right now, Minnesota is a runaway train,” said Bear offensive guard Tom Thayer. “We wanted to burst their bubble a bit by playing well tonight and winning on national TV. But after this, they must be licking their chops.”

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Each team has a pretty easy opponent next week--Minnesota plays Green Bay, Chicago goes against Detroit, and then they’ll meet in the final regular season game of the year.

The Vikings won the first meeting of the year, 31-7, meaning if they were to beat the Bears again and the teams were to end the season with 12-4 records, Minnesota would win the division based on head-to-head competition.

After Monday’s performance, or lack of one, tackle Jim Covert admitted, “Right now, the Vikings must be out partying.”


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