By Dan Bernstein
CBSChicago.com Senior Columnist
(CBS) — Nothing like a lethal cocktail of bad and stupid to turn a record into a footnote.
Stirred up for your consumption by a decidedly mediocre Bears team from their signature selection of ingredients, master bartender Marc Trestman served this one in a big, ridiculous fishbowl with enough straws for all of us. And perfectly so in the NFC North, of course, the currently-fashionable Lounge of Silly Football.
Come on in.
That 12-catch, 249-yard, two-touchdown performance by Alshon Jeffery? You won’t even remember it after a few sips.
Here was a receiver dominating play with every kind of catch under and over and above and beyond helpless defenders, staking his team to a 20-10 lead and keeping any guttering playoff hope part of the conversation. He topped the franchise mark of 218 yards in a game, which he had set earlier this season against New Orleans.
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It was all washed out, and by too many things to count. Not that we can’t try.
Robbie Gould’s 47-yard attempt at an overtime game-winner came on second and seven, after some welcome interior blocking let the run game power them into position after Blair Walsh’s own try had sailed wide. Trestman claimed that concern over a penalty, fumble or other “unique” occurrence informed his decision to not work to move the spot closer, and that they were “in range,” no matter the complex analysis from some of us that they could remain “in range,” and be “even closer to the goalpost,” and “increase the chance that the kick is made,” which would make them “far more likely to win the game.”
Khaseem Greene’s godsend interception — bailing out fellow rookie linebacker Jon Bostic after his regrettable taunting penalty — looked like it would go back the distance to sew up the win, until Shea McClellin unconscionably failed to block Matt Cassel despite the fact that the quarterback was standing right in front of him all but begging to be erased from the play.
Josh McCown, a civic folk hero due mostly to his ability to take care of the ball, coughed up a boneheaded turnover by trying a shovel pass to nobody while being wrestled to the ground in the middle of the field. “Not a good play,” he said.
For all of their 480 net yards, the Bears managed only those two TDs and 20 points. They were a head-shaking 2-11 on third downs, and still unable to get critical short yards to convert against a defense almost as bad as theirs.
The Vikings still faced doom, with fourth and eleven from their own eight yard line with 1:55 to go, the Bears still up by three, and Matt Cassel quarterbacking for Christian Ponder, who left with an apparent concussion at the end of the first half. Cassel then carved completions of 20, 24, 17 and 21 yards. Field goal. Overtime. This didn’t happen, right?
Oh, and Chris Conte and something about whatever.
This was too potent a mix of bad football to ingest, even if we know better than to convince ourselves that this team was ever actually competing for something. It’s always more fun to live the lie, as it has been the last few weeks.
It should have been a better story, regardless. It was going to be Jeffery’s day, one of a drafted and developing skill-position player who is becoming a star. Instead, we find ourselves needing to detoxify after overindulging from that glass half full of nothing.
My head hurts.