By Laurence Holmes
Well, we found out that winning this game was important to Lovie Smith. The Bears starters played the entire game and came up short in the regular season finale 10-3. The Bears had secured a #2 seed in the NFC playoffs before the ball was even kicked, but Lovie Smith felt going undefeated in the division and perhaps knocking the Packers out of the playoffs was a good goal.
The Bears limp out of Green Bay with a few injuries: Nick Roach hurt his shoulder early and did not return,11 Major Wright hurt his leg and did not return and Chris Harris suffered a stinger. Harris told me in the locker room that he lost feeling for a bit, but is fine now.
The ugliest part of this loss for the Bears is that it serves as a reminder of some of this team’s weaknesses.
-The Bears offense had protection issues. Jay Cutler was sacked 6 times for 51 yards. Cutler and other offensive players said that the loud environment of Lambeau Field lead to communication issues. Line protections got lost in the sound of the arena and lead to sacks. When I asked if the Bears were playing a “vanilla” gameplan, Lovie Smith was adamant that they “were trying to win the game!” The response in the locker room was a bit mixed on the subject with Cutler hinting that they didn’t call everything in the arsenal and one other player telling me, “You never want to show everything in a game that doesn’t count.” Olin Kreutz was stoic in saying that he thought the Bears needed a hostile environment game to get them ready if they have to go to Atlanta for the NFC Title game.
-When Cutler wasn’t being hurried, he made some bad throws. He got picked twice, but there were plenty of plays the Packers left on the field.
-The defense held Aaron Rodgers and the Packers down for most of the game, but the Packers had a 75 yard drive that gave them the go-ahead score in the 4th quarter. On that drive, Rodgers hit a 21 yard pass and a 46 yard pass to set up the score. There were a couple of breakdowns deep when the Bears were in Cover-2, but it should be noted that the Bears played a lot more Man in this game. The defensive guys didn’t seemed phased or rattled by the outcome, choosing to focus on the task ahead.
So the Bears will get a few days off and have “training camp” style practices (with no opponent to prepare for). The Packers will get to go to Philly for Wildcard Sunday.
NUGGET: On Charles Tillman’s 42-yard interception return, one of the balls from the sidelines made it on to the field. Anthony Adams didn’t know what was going on and picked it up (as Bears players are trained to do). Here is what he told me about it:
“That was just weird man. I just saw a ball out there and it seemed like everybody was still chasing Peanut (Tillman)…I don’t know it just seemed weird. Whenever you see a ball out there you just have to pick it up. I don’t know what was going on out there.” Adams said.