I've been lurking on these forums for awhile now, and I figured this would be my first jaunt into posting because I'm going to do something I normally wouldn't do: defend Lovie Smith.
For the record, I like Lovie Smith as a person, and maybe he'd be good again as just a defensive coordinator. I'm not honestly a fan of his for a head coach. But as I've read numerous criticisms of his decision to go for it on fourth down, while I personally would have kicked the field goal, I understand his decision to go for it despite getting stuffed in 3 previous attempts from the 1.
And I'm personally okay with the call, and it turns out the events of the game may actually have proven Lovie did the right thing.
So let's recap a few pertinent facts concerning the game.
- The Bears had moved the football fairly consistently all game long, and ended up with 463 yards of offense.
- The Bears however did not run the ball particularly effectively. It seemed like many of the good rushes came more from delays and draws, to fool the defense on what may have been more pass friendly downs although I haven't honestly gone back and look for sure.
- The Bears were facing a second string QB in the second half who had not moved the ball effectively whatsoever the entire second half.
- The Bears were at the 1. Should they have failed, they've got the Lions right where they want them defensively. Decent chance of a safety, which takes the lead, or what's realistically likely, a punt that gives the Bears great field position. Chicago could either block the punt, or more likely would have the ball with little need to move it. Plus, Detroit would end up burning up the clock a bit on the ensuing series should the Bears fail to convert, leaving Chicago with plenty of time to get a field goal or another shot at a touchdown. With the lead, Detroit would then have to move the ball with limited opportunities, something they hadn't been able to do all day. Time on the clock was 8:58.
I understand going for it here. It's gutsy. It's bold. But it's not crazy. Really, when you think about it, you're trading assured points now for probable points later, another chance at a TD, and giving Detroit worse field position, to the point that you might even get a defensive score. And the events towards the end of the game prove Lovie was right.
Chicago of course bites the dust on a rush, and Detroit gets the ball. They go 3 and out, and put from about their 9. Chicago gets it back and goes three and out. Chicago forces a three and out and gets the ball again. They easily get within field goal range, but Cutler finds Forte of course for the winning TD. Now, here's the key:
At this point, Smith's gamble, although belatedly, had worked to a T. He got exactly what he wanted had Chicago not gotten that TD - a TD with 1:32 left. And it turns out maybe that we probably needed that TD. I know this isn't necessarily true because maybe Chicago plays tighter defense knowing they can't even give up a field goal, but Detroit moves the ball down the field, something they couldn't do the entire half, and were quickly into field goal range. At that point, the Megatron catch is irrelevant. Detroit would have run the clock out, and kicked a field goal with little time left on the clock.
I personally would have kicked the FG because I would believe there's no way Detroit moves the ball, because they couldn't do it the entire half. With that said, I'm proven wrong.
Lovie ends up being right about this, like it or not. I won't however defend the questionable defensive calls on the last drive. Blitzing I understand, but how you blitz so many you can't double team Calvin Johnson is absolutely beyond me, but that's a whole other topic.