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Lindholm: Bears Historically Bad On Sunday Night

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Safety Major Wright attempts to tackle running back Bryce Brown of the Philadelphia Eagles. (Credit: Rich Schultz, Getty)

Safety Major Wright attempts to tackle running back Bryce Brown of the Philadelphia Eagles. (Credit: Rich Schultz, Getty)

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By Scott Lindholm-

(CBS) The Bears set several standards of futility in their 54-11 loss to the Eagles on Sunday evening.

It was their worst loss since 1977 when they were routed by Houston Oilers 47-0.

In addition to losses to the Baltimore Colts (1964, 52-0) and Green Bay (1962, 49-0), it was only the fourth time in Bears history they’ve lost by more than 43 points. For a franchise dating back to 1920 that’s played 1,305 regular season games, it’s astounding.

From a playoff perspective, it was all there for the taking. The Lions and Packers both lost to make the NFC North Division Championship and a No. 3 playoff slot locked in with a win.

No one said it would be easy – the Eagles have been uneven this year – but if the Bears offense could out-offense the Eagles’ offense, they had a shot. But that wasn’t to be. More fun numbers (all data comes from the Play Index feature at pro-football-reference.com):

The last time the Bears were down 21-0 after the first quarter–1955, vs. the Chicago Cardinals. It was also the only time they’ve ever been down 21-0 after one quarter.

Last time they were down 21 points after one quarter–1958, vs. the Baltimore Colts. They rallied to lose by only 13.

Those two games are the only games in Bears franchise history in which they were down 21 or more points after the first quarter. Last night’s game increased that total 50%.

Want more misery? The last time the Bears gave up 21 or more points in the fourth quarter–well, that was a little more recent, 2007 to be precise against the Lions. Including last night’s game, the total number of games with that dubious achievement is now 20.

Last night, I mistakenly tweeted this out at one point: “Last time #Bears allowed 40+ points in three games in a season? 1964.”

Whoops, meant to say this was the fourth game of allowing 40+ points, and thanks to Gary Banser for pointing out my mistake. I was indeed correct the last time the Bears allowed three games of 40+ points was in 1964. The last season with four was in 1952.

The 2013 Bears will allow the most yards in franchise history, and it will be about a 5% increase over the previous record. Even with the difficulties defenses face in the modern NFL, this is something. Giving up 6,000 yards in a season is rare, and the Bears, facing Eddie Lacy and potentially Aaron Rodgers, will join that short list.

And with a victory, they could still make the playoffs at no worse than a No. 4 seed, and if the Cowboys beat the Eagles next Sunday evening, No. 3. Simply amazing. For the Bears sake, hopefully this was just one of those games – one of those historically awful games not soon to be repeated, but consider the ramifications and the impact on the future–Lance Briggs returned, and was essentially ineffective. A strong offense was effectively shut down by an average defense. Robbie Gould was outwitted by the wind on an onside kick attempt.

This is what success looks like?

And it was all right there, ripe for the picking. Maybe the Eagles were the 2013 version of the Sirens from Homer’s “The Odyssey,” beautiful creatures who lured in the unsuspecting–it sure looked that way going by the Score Expert picks. Maybe the losses by the Packers and Lions lulled the Bears. It was never a guaranteed game, but absolutely no one expected the pasting the Eagles laid on. It all comes down to the Packers game, which is no real surprise–it’s just that no one expected the Bears to be entering it on the wrong end of a historically bad loss.

Scott Lindholm is a columnist for CBSChicago.com and 670TheScore.com and frequent contributor to The Boers and Bernstein Show, known affectionately as Scott from Davenport. You can follow him on Twitter @ScottLindholm.

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