By Adam Hoge-
SOLDIER FIELD (CBS) — The Bears may have gotten a little too fancy in the game’s most crucial moment.
One play after throwing the ball with no wide receivers on the field, the Bears ran the ball with Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery back on. Fortunate to get two cracks at a game-tying two-point conversion, the Bears failed to cross the goal line on either play.
After a personal foul penalty put the ball at the 1-yard-line for the second try, running the ball became a little easier and the Lions were ready for it, even though the Bears ran for only 38 yards on 20 carries on the day.
“They had run the ball across against Green Bay last week and I think from the 1-yard-line, a very similar situation,” Lions head coach Jim Schwartz said. “It wasn’t the exact same run, but it was similar. Yeah, we were ready for it but you still have to make the play.”
Lions defensive tackle Nick Fairley did make the play, shoving Bears center Roberto Garza aside and tackling Matt Forte in the backfield to finish off a 21-19 win.
“I just read my keys, had a big A-gap,” Fairley said. “I figured it was going to be a run or a play-action pass. I just got off the ball really well. I’m so happy I made the play.”
If he didn’t, defensive end Ndamukong Suh probably would have.
- Bernstein: Bad Run Game Costs Bears
- Hoge: Skepticism Hovers Over Bears Loss To Lions
- Durkin’s Rapid Reaction: Missed Opportunities Cost Bears
- Bears Come Up Short In 21-19 Loss To Lions
- Photo Gallery
“I can’t speak for Nick, but just looking at the offensive alignment, I had a hunch that they were going to run just by the way that they looked when they lined up. They didn’t even come to my side, but I was heading down and if Nick wasn’t able to make the play — which he obviously did — then I was there to help him clean it up.”
As it turned out, the Bears had a run/pass option on the play and quarterback Josh McCown got the count in the box that he was looking for to go with the run.
The Lions saw it coming though and made the play.
Struggling Run Game
The running game was a problem for the Bears all day, which made the game a lot tougher for the ailing Jay Cutler, who was dealing with both a groin and ankle injury.
“That minimal running game really put our quarterbacks at risk today because we had to throw the ball more than we would have liked to against one of the best pass rushes in the league,” Bears head coach Marc Trestman said. “These guys played very, very hard defensively and they hit us more than we’ve been hit.”
The Lions accounted for 11 quarterback hits on the day, a far cry from the Bears’ zero.
While the Bears’ defensive line didn’t account for much pressure, the struggling defense did put together a stronger effort Sunday, holding the Lions to just 21 points and coming up with a big interception of Matthew Stafford in the fourth quarter to force a field goal.
“I thought our defense, after the first drive, did some thing to make Stafford go the long way and they did,” Trestman said. “We tried to get some help on Calvin (Johnson) during the course of the game and just didn’t get it done.”
Indeed, Johnson turned out to be the difference in the game. While the Bears held him to just six catches on 17 targets, he still account for 83 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winner with 2:28 left in the game.
Running back Reggie Bush also had another strong game against the Bears, running for 105 yards on just 14 carries, including one that went for 39 yards.
Missed Opportunities Loom Large
The first thing Marc Trestman was unhappy with after the game was the amount of points the Bears left off the scoreboard.
“It was really a day of missed opportunities,” he said. “We had a touchdown that was dropped in the red zone that led to a field goal, so we lost four points there. We had a hold on a touchdown in the red zone that took us back again. They kicked a field goal, again. That was another four points. Then we had the interception at the end of the half, which would have taken three points off the board as well. That’s 11 points right there.”
Trestman was referring to an Alshon Jeffery drop in the red zone and a big holding call by Matt Slauson in the fourth quarter that wiped out a 9-yard Matt Forte touchdown run right after Chris Conte picked off Stafford.
Three plays later, Jeffery couldn’t hold on to another touchdown pass, although it was a much tougher catch and was originally called a touchdown on the field before being reversed by replay.
Interestingly, Trestman didn’t mention another three points that were left off the scoreboard when he elected to go for it on 4th-and-1 from the Lions’ 27-yard-line in the second quarter and the Bears failed to convert.
– The Bears have now gone five straight games without recovering a fumble after recovering at least one in the first four games.
– Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall both went over 100 yards receiving, but neither player was on the field for the first two-point conversion try. Jeffery finished with nine catches for 114 yards, while Marshall had seven catches for 139 yards and two touchdowns.
– Other than Jay Cutler’s ankle, the Bears did not announce any other notable injuries.
Adam Hoge covers the Bears for CBSChicago.com and is a frequent contributor to 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter at @AdamHoge.