By Dan Durkin-
(CBS) The Bears offense snapped one dubious streak during Thursday’s 34-17 loss to the Lions at Ford Field. The touchdown they scored on their first drive of the game marked the first time they’ve scored points in the first quarter in seven games.READ MORE: Chicago Weather: Winter Weather Advisories In Effect; Snow Arrives For Monday Morning Commute
The Bears came out crisp with a six-play, 55-yard drive during which the ball only hit the turf once. Quarterback Jay Cutler was sharp, completing passes to four different receivers and then capping the drive off with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Alshon Jeffery. Later in the quarter, the Bears (5-7) punched it in on a short field, set up by a Jared Allen strip-sack fumble of Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford.
After that, it was more of what Bears fans have grown accustomed to — penalties, missed assignments and dropped passes. The Bears mustered up only three points over the remaining three quarters. Tight end Martellus Bennett summed it up best in the locker room afterward.
“We’re a struggling offense right now,” Bennett said. “We’re trying to make more plays and get things going and sustain drives. We’re a highly penalized offense. We still have the playmakers that we’ve always had. I think it’s just the penalties right now that’s really setting us back.”
Undoubtedly, penalties have played a part, but Chicago coach Marc Trestman called his most imbalanced game of the season Thursday. Granted, the Lions (8-4) are the league’s best at defending the run, but Trestman didn’t even give the run game a chance. Cutler dropped back 51 times (48 passing attempts, three sacks) while the Bears only attempted eight running plays, which included Cutler’s kneeldown. It’s hard to win football games in which you voluntarily make yourself one-dimensional.
Trestman viewed the smoke (or “razor”) receiver screens as an extension of the run game, but the results just weren’t there in the end.
“That’s how we looked at it, is using those to get outside, to get them running sideline to sideline, and it started well for us,” Trestman said. “We just couldn’t sustain it.”
Trestman later went on to say, “It’s difficult on any quarterback to throw the ball that much.” Yet, he’s the one in charge of calling the plays.
Forte focused on improving for the future
Running back Matt Forte was visibly frustrated after the game. Heading into Thursday’s game, Forte had averaged 114 yards from scrimmage against the Lions, yet he only got five carries in the game, matching his career-low, which has happened only twice before in his seven-year career.
“Really frustrating,” Forte said. “It’s just frustrating because as a team, the talent we have on our team, we definitely are underachieving. A few guys have to do some soul searching for the rest of the season and plan how they want to play the rest of these games.”READ MORE: MISSING: Felicity Barr, 16, Last Seen In Aurora
Forte wasn’t specific about who needed to do some soul searching but did say that talent only means so much in the NFL. It’s a matter of putting it together on a consistent basis.
“We’ve talked about it all year long, but talent only gets you so far,” Forte said. “When you look at it like that, you can have the most talent in the world, but if you don’t put it to work out there, it does no good for you.”
With four games left in the season and a three-game gap between the Bears and Lions — who hold the second wild-card spot right now in the NFC — it’s only a matter of time until the Bears are officially eliminated from playoff contention. Even so, Forte still feels the offense needs to use the rest of the season to prove it can perform up to expectations.
“A lot to prove,” Forte said. “Go out there and play like we know how to play. Just because we lost these games and now we’re at seven losses, we can’t go out there and lay down. We’ve got to go out there and try to get better. Improvement for the future of this team.”
Kyle Fuller gets no brotherly love
Bears rookie cornerback Kyle Fuller was on the field against his brother Corey, who plays wide receiver for the Lions, but he drew a different matchup most of the day.
Chicago defensive coordinator Mel Tucker chose to match the rookie corner up against Detroit wide receiver Calvin Johnson. So far this season, Johnson hasn’t put up numbers the league is accustomed to seeing, but against Fuller it was a different story. The rookie got the All-Pro treatment from Johnson, who ended with his second-best game of the season, racking up 11 receptions for 146 yards and two touchdowns.
Not only did Fuller get no sympathy from Johnson on the field, he got no sympathy from his brother Corey off the field. During Johnson’s postgame interview, he offered no apologies on the sideline and actually received words of encouragement from Corey.
“Corey told me to pour it on,” Johnson said.
Tough love in the Fuller family.MORE NEWS: Melissa Ortega, 8-Year-Old Girl Killed In Little Village Shooting, Had Just Emigrated From Mexico
Dan Durkin covers the Bears for CBSChicago.com and is a frequent contributor to 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter at @djdurkin.