Well. That happened.
That's actually probably the best, most succinct way to put this absolute travesty of a game. It was basically a game that had no flow, no cohesiveness, way too much unreasonable controversy, way too many bad decisions on all sides of the ball, and everybody was just happy the stupid thing was over.
Oh yeah, it also involved losing to the now 1-5 Lions.
There's no denying that there were plenty of bad calls and bad no-calls, and there's no denying that those calls may have had some indelible effect on the game - it's just a realistic possibility when we're talking about turnovers and touchdowns (and personally, I think there was one blatant missed holding call, right on the final deep completion to Calvin Johnson). However, as egregious as we think those calls are, the Bears still had plenty of chances to take the game and take control, and not even let it get to overtime (or win it in overtime).
Pernell McPhee was a force in the second half of the game. Alshon Jeffery came up big, on most plays. Outside of one throw, Jay Cutler had what is becoming a usual strong game. John Fox, Vic Fangio, not so much. Jim Caldwell, certainly not so much. The Bears may have lost the game, but the Lions pretty much won it by accident (because somebody was eventually going to trip their way into the win).
My biggest complaint, and something we knew already about John Fox but hadn't really manifested itself in a fashion to hurt the team like this, is the sudden heavy conservatism in times where the Bears could have cashed in on a little aggressiveness to try to push for the win immediately, such as the end of the fourth quarter or in overtime. Instead, he went heavy to Matt Forte runs on a day when he was already only getting less than three runs per carry and got shut down hard. In overtime, the "Run, run, pass short of the marker, punt" offensive strategy didn't get the job done either.
It's really kind of funny, because aggressiveness from Cutler, Jeffery, Martellus Bennett and Marquess Wilson were what even got the Bears the lead in the first place. Jeffery gave the Bears some deep play and big play credibility that was sorely lacking, and the Bears offense really cashed in on it over the course of the game. Jeffery was strong in his return. So... Where was that in a time where the team could either seal the game or needed to push harder for first downs, instead of pushing on a running game that just wasn't going anywhere after a time?
Further, why put the game in the hands of a defense that had only been as effective as they had been because the Lions suddenly forgot Calvin Johnson existed, and then went back to him in crunch time and picked up immediately where they left off? Tracy Porter was left on shadow duty for quite a bit of the game, and it just wasn't working at all. Kyle Fuller had a miserable game outside of two plays - the, uh, interception called a touchdown play, and one other physical tackle. Sherrick McManis was likewise miserable. Harold Jones-Quartey was actually tested this week, it didn't really go that well.
The Bears' run defense was allowing a run game picking up 2.8 yards per carry coming in to get 4.8 yards per carry. Even Matthew Stafford picked up 37 on the ground.
The offensive line wasn't all that good either, as there was pressure in Jay Cutler's face the entire game, so Cutler being credited with one sack against was nothing short of outstanding pocket awareness/mobility and quick, decisive throws.
The thing is, there are all these problems, and yet the Bears were still right there with a strong chance to win the game. Raise your hand if you thought the game would pivot on Bears special teams in a good way. Twice the Bears turned a punt into a muffed return and picked up the loose ball; they turned them into ten points in total and pushed their way right back into the game. Jonathan Anderson's interception (the one that couldn't possibly be overturned) led to another 8 points for the Bears, and up a full touchdown you thought the Bears would be off and running.
Instead, Detroit scored on two straight drives around a three and out by the Bears to take a three point lead; on the Bears final drive of regulation, two pass interference penalties helped (one accepted) helped nudge the Bears into Robbie Gould's game-tying field goal. Earlier, a Detroit defensive holding penalty nullified a stop on 3rd and goal, which the Bears converted into a touchdown.
Penalties of course helped keep Detroit's chances alive as well; Kyle Fuller committed a defensive pass interference penalty after an incompletion to Golden Tate would have forced fourth down. After Detroit was called for intentional grounding, Pernell McPhee was called for a roughing the passer penalty where he took the legs out from under Stafford. Not to mention coaching - instead of taking a time out after a stop prior to the intentional grounding, Fox elected to let the clock run, until a Jeremiah Ratliff injury forced a stoppage anyway ten seconds later. Fox also allowed the ten-second runoff for the intentional grounding penalty, instead of saving the time.
But, whatever, we have a few bullets to hit before moving on:
- I have to go into the forced interception that wasn't, and this was the play that really proved the NFL isn't sure itself what a catch is. The Dean Blandino explanation was that the receiver had established possession as a runner and crossed the plane; however, with a defender making a play on the ball, possession hadn't been fully determined. Why does it seem like these weird catch/no catch plays always seem to happen with the Lions? (On a side note, if your official sport's account is saying "Doesn't matter" in a tweet about the play, that's usually a sign something has gone horribly wrong.)
- Martellus Bennett has really looked rough the last two weeks, missing a number of tough catches that he usually makes, and yeah, they're coming when the Bears are trying to keep the chains moving. It's fortunate Jeffery was so good in his return, at least it's another dependable option while Bennett's trying to get right.
- The Forte struggles are real with an offensive line that looked okay last week, but really had a rough time of it this time, especially in the run game (those same struggles were evident then, too, just not as well dictated by the defense). Part of it is an increased usage of runs up the middle, which certainly aren't helpful with a young center that largely everyone agrees needs some extra strength before he's truly ready.
- Eddie Royal looked pretty good in his return as well, especially running with the ball. And on the subject of receivers, Marquess Wilson again impressed. Jeffery botched a big play he should have come down with, and on a similar throw the next play, Wilson came down with it with a little after the catch too.
- Kev will break it down in better detail; however, Cutler's interception was all on his throw ahead of Jeffery in the end zone. It's a ball that Jeffery's supposed to high-point, but Jeffery lost from the start of the route and the defensive back was in a perfect position to high-point it himself. Cutler either needed to adjust for Jeffery losing the route and fire at his back shoulder, or not throw the losing jump ball immediately and look elsewhere, but on a quick read and throw, not likely.
- Raise your hand if you want to be a Bears defensive back. Kyle Fuller has been really, really bad. Sherrick McManis has been really, really bad.
- Jonathan Anderson had a strong game being around the ball, and I was gradually becoming more okay with seeing him on the field. I feel like the defense misses its signal caller Shea McClellin, however.
- Detroit's fake punt for 30 yards was really cute; Cameron Meridith got exploited in his gap and that's all it takes. The next question is, with a desperate team desperate to get their first win... why was it not in the realm of possibility for the Bears?
- For a guy who got benched last week, Stafford came out and, after getting settled in throwing over Tracy Porter to Calvin Johnson, started finding ways to hit every other receiver in the complete absence of a pass rush. Getting settled in with no pass rush is how a quarterback gets to 400 yards and 4 touchdowns, even if he's taking the oddest of arm angles and just winging it. Lance Moore had himself a field day, and Tim Wright won an easy one-on-one against Fuller in the corner of the end zone.
Put bluntly, a better Lions team doesn't even make yesterday's game close. Neither does a better Bears team. It was a bad game by two bad teams that made the folks watching it feel bad. And we get to sleep on it for a whole week. Awesome.
What are your thoughts on yesterday's loss?