Hoge’s Notebook: Lovie Takes The Blame For Bears’ Loss
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By Adam Hoge-
SOLDIER FIELD (CBS) Lovie Smith didn’t waste any time in distributing the blame for Sunday’s 23-17 overtime loss to the Seahawks.
“Terrible job I did getting our football team ready,” the Bears’ head coach said. “I thought we were ready to go. Some decisions I made really hurt us early on.”
One of those decisions was electing to pass up on a 32-yard field goal early in the second quarter that could have given the Bears a 10-0 lead. Instead, the Bears went for it on 4th-and-1 and running back Michael Bush was stopped short.
“We should have taken the field goal,” Smith admitted after the game. “It felt like we had momentum. I wanted to really try to knock them out and get them on their heels a little bit. That was a big play in the game.”
It was a big play, as the Seahawks scored 10 points in the quarter to take a 10-7 lead into halftime.
Asked if he always wants to go for the first down in that situation, Bears quarterback Jay Cutler appeared to question the decision.
“No. I think you have to play smart,” he said. “It depends on how your offensive line is doing, how well you’re running the ball, whether it’s a tight game, whether it’s a high scoring game — there are a lot of things go into it.”
That said, when asked if he thought it was a good decision, Cutler said he wasn’t “going to second-guess anything.”
Interestingly enough, even though Smith second-guessed himself, he said he would do it again.
Big Drop For Bennett
The Bears have been waiting all season to get big plays from wide receiver Earl Bennett and for a moment it looked like that was going to happen Sunday. After avoiding a sack, Cutler threw a beautiful pass downfield where Bennett had his man beat for a 63-yard touchdown.
But he dropped it.
Bennett had taken a big hit earlier in the game on a 12-yard touchdown catch, however, and was later diagnosed with a concussion.
“I don’t know if he was feeling the effects of that hit down by the goal line or not — it’s hard to tell,” Cutler said. “I won’t shy away from him, I know that. I’ll keep coming back to him.”
Bennett is just the latest Bears wideout to go down with an injury. Hester suffered a concussion last week and Alshon Jeffery is out with a knee injury. The Bears hope to get both players back next week.
With Bennett out, the Bears were left with Eric Weems and Dane Sanzenbacher lining up with Brandon Marshall. Weems caught one pass for 18 yards.
Cutler Nearly Saves Them
After the Bears coughed up the lead with just 24 seconds left, Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall appeared to save the day when they hooked up for a 56-yard pass that put the Bears in field goal range.
Cutler threw an absolute bullet to Marshall downfield, who elluded some tacklers to gain even more yardage.
The play wasn’t all that complicated.
“I told Brandon to run as fast as he could down there and I’ll throw it to you and you make a play. That’s what we did,” Cutler said.
Robbie Gould then hit a 45-yard field goal to send the game to overtime.
Defense Doesn’t Hold Up
Unfortunately the defense didn’t take advantage of Cutler giving them a second life. It’s not too often you see the Bears cough up fourth quarter leads, but they allowed a 97-yard touchdown drive at the end of regulation and an 80-yard touchdown drive in overtime.
“It’s surprising,” Cutler said. “Our defense takes a lot of pride in (holding onto leads).”
Simply put, the Bears had no answer for Russell Wilson. The rookie quarterback was 23-of-37 on the day for 293 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for 71 yards on just nine rushing attempts, good for 7.9 yards a carry.
Offensive Line OK
The Bears’ makeshift offensive line received mixed reviews after the game. It only allowed one sack on the day, but Cutler was forced to scramble a lot.
“They played OK,” Cutler said. “They could still anchor a little better.”
The quarterback said he had to run aggressively “out of necessity.” He had 27 yards rushing on the day on just four carries — none of which were designed running plays.
Chris Conte missed most of the game because he was ill… Tim Jennings suffered a shoulder injury… Brian Urlacher left in overtime with a hamstring.
Adam is the Sports Editor for CBSChicago.com and specializes in coverage of the Bears, White Sox and college sports. He was born and raised in Lincoln Park and attended St. Ignatius College Prep before going off to the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he earned a Journalism degree. Follow him on Twitter @AdamHogeCBS and read more of his columns here.