MORRISSEY: No matter which way you spin it, it’s still a loss
BY RICK MORRISSEY firstname.lastname@example.org December 9, 2012 7:39PM
Minnesota Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen, right, sacks Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 9, 2012, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Genevieve Ross)
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Updated: February 8, 2013 1:15AM
MINNEAPOLIS — “We’re still in position to accomplish all of the goals that we set out for early on.’’
Oh, be quiet, Lovie Smith.
Don’t patronize us. We know better. We know what we saw. We saw a brutal, demoralizing surrender of a football game. That’s what Sunday was. A laying down of arms. A one-sided cessation of hostilities.
The only position the Bears are in is the fetal one.
They have lost four of their last five games, including a 21-14 effort against a below-average Vikings team. What does that make the visitors from Chicago? Below below-average.
That’s the truth, no matter how their coach wants to spin an 8-5 record that, in a past life, was a 7-1 record. And spin it Smith did after this awful loss. His players parroted his postgame message. You can look at that as a good thing if you’d like — no reason to give up the ship, right? — but it rang hollower than the Tin Man’s midsection.
“We’ve got a handful of games left, and we’ve got to win them all,’’ quarterback Jay Cutler said. “We’re going to take it one game at a time.’’
“We’re taking it one game at a time,’’ defensive end Corey Wootton said. “It’s been a tough couple of weeks as far as not winning as much as we’d like to. We definitely want to win out these next three games.’’
“We’ve got three games left,’’ defensive end Julius Peppers said. “We’re going to have to win these last three, and that’s fine. We can do that.’’
So if I have this right, the Bears have their upcoming opponents, the Packers, right where they want them.
Sunday’s developments argued otherwise.
Cutler is 29 and still hasn’t embraced the idea that throwing off the back foot usually is a bad thing. He did it twice and was picked off both times. He should have been picked off a third time, but the defender did a Devin Hester pantomime and dropped the ball.
In the fourth quarter, Hester dropped what would’ve been a sure touchdown pass and quite possibly a game-changer. Ridiculous.
The defense came here to stop one person, and that one person, Adrian Peterson, had a 51-yard run on the first play from scrimmage. He finished with 154 yards and two touchdowns.
After railing about all of the above, I’m here to tell you the Bears could have won this game and, with a few more injections of fortitude, should have won this game.
The Vikings jumped out to a 14-0 lead and had their foot on the Bears’ neck.
But Rod Marinelli’s defense started to play better, and Minnesota doesn’t have much more than Peterson. All that was required for a comeback was a consistent offense. It wouldn’t have taken anything spectacular.
But Cutler overthrew Brandon Marshall late in the third quarter, and safety Harrison Smith returned it 56 yards for a touchdown and a 21-7 lead. That’s how it was.
After Hester dropped that sure touchdown pass on third down late in the fourth quarter, a Cutler pass slipped through Marshall’s hands on fourth down. That’s how it was, too.
“I didn’t play well,’’ Cutler said. “You’ve got to start with me offensively. The interceptions, however they happened, they happened.’’
It didn’t help that he got creamed by the Vikings’ Everson Griffen in the fourth quarter and eventually had to come out with a neck injury.
The offensive line struggled with penalties. And the offense remains one-dimensional. Cutler threw 18 passes to Marshall alone. The Vikings’ Christian Ponder threw 17 passes total.
If you’ve seen Brian Urlacher lumber around the field this season, you know it’s hard to say this game would’ve gone differently with him in the lineup. Was he going to catch Peterson? Unlikely. But if you want to use that as an excuse, feel free.
What about all the injuries piling up?
“Everybody has injuries,’’ Peppers said. “That’s part of this league.’’
The bad weather? The Bears couldn’t even blame it on the snow, which stayed outside the Metrodome. Too bad.
Sigh. Three games left. No excuses. And no meaningful future the way the Bears are playing now.