A civic palm-to-the-forehead slap is in order after that hot garbage.
The play of the game gave us a nice microcosm of the multilevel stupidity that has Bears fans wondering if even the Buffalo Bills are beatable two weeks from now.
Let’s look at it: Bears lead the Redskins 14-10 as they open the second half with the ball. From near midfield, Jay Cutler finds Earl Bennett open, and he rolls into the end zone but is marked down on the one. Lovie Smith challenges despite solid evidence that the call is correct. Still, it’s a scoring play, so we’ll give him some latitude. Challenge rightly overruled, call stands.
First and goal from the one (Bears 0-9 from a yard out to that point in 2010, by the way, which is unconscionable). The Skins’ Albert Haynesworth diagnoses a Cutler sneak over center and stuffs the play. Cutler desperately extends the ball, and it is knocked away and recovered by London Fletcher. No challenge from Smith, despite goalline video of the ball breaking the plane, and showing that his momentum was halted before the fumble.
So Cutler was dumb with the ball, needlessly straining rather than live for another try on second down. Smith was dumb to not challenge, and dumber in explaining why he didn’t. “Considered it quickly,” he said. “Normally, if it’s a critical play like that, we will challenge.”
What was so abnormal about this critical play that you didn’t, coach? Again, it’s a scoring play.
You pay the price of a timeout for the chance to take control of an important home game. Bears could go up 21-10, which changes the offensive risk tolerance after.
Perhaps an 11-point lead keeps Cutler from flinging weak jump-balls to shrimpy receivers, as he did in a second half of recklessness and poor mechanics that was exacerbated by the wideouts’ apparent lack of desire to come back to the ball.
Cutler defended his judgement in throwing repeatedly toward DeAngelo Hall, who tied an NFL record with four interceptions — all in the second half. “If we had to play them tomorrow, I’d still go after him every time I could,” Cutler said. “There’s no reason to shy away from him.”
I can think of four, actually.
The offensive line so lauded by Mike Martz continued to leak, remaining on pace to lead the league in sacks allowed. The pass/run ratio was 44/16. Last week’s numbers of 47/12, remember, caused Smith to remark that the right balance would be “fifty-fifty.”
Yesterday’s thought from Smith?
“When I talk about balance, I’m not talking about fifty-fifty or anything like that.”
Oh. Sorry. Excuse me while I bang my head against my desk now.