By Tim Baffoe–

(CBS) A lot of sports consumption is lying to ourselves. From the overarching lie that the games actually affect our lives to the gradually smaller ones like, “Yes, I should be spending time watching the Chicago Bears because that’s just what stable, pragmatic Chicagoans do on Sundays.”

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So I did a few calisthenics pregame Sunday — some light jogging in place, some shoulder rolls and neck stretches, a few slaps to the face — and found the desire … OK … willingness to watch that pointlessness. And I found justification for that day’s lie. It wasn’t easy, though.

Missing two Pro Bowlers in Kyle Long (shoulder, ankle) and Alshon Jeffery (pills and/or needles and/or serums) put the Chicago Bears a bit behind the eight-ball from the start in the Meadowlands against the New York Giants. Long was one of 13 Bears on injured reserve entering the game. Zach Miller, who broke his foot at the end of the first half, will join him there shortly. Pro Bowler Josh Sitton would leave the premises in a walking boot, too. And Leonard Floyd almost died. So that’s not good for the coming weeks, but I’ll cross or dynamite that bridge when I get to it.

I reflexively root for chaos. So as the two teams both scored touchdowns pretty quickly and both missed extra points, I was invigorated by the prospect of the game somehow ending in a tie because of the terrible league-wide kicking epidemic. It was a weird something to cling to early, but it was something. A little lie to myself.

A nasty sort of cold and windy day it was in Jersey that from my TV transmitted an extra miserableness. Coming off a complete bikini waxing by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers the week before, where internal accusations of quitting had cropped up, the two-win Bears as a collective had nothing to play for besides maybe whatever semblance of pride they had left. They had no business winning — and they didn’t in a 22-16 loss. But, gall darn it, the Bears tried.

Which, yeah, is their job and stuff, sure. But they are a trash pile, and they know it, no matter how much someone like Pernell McPhee tries to jack them up to woefully impotent results. There can’t be much left that gets them out of bed on Sundays looking to put their bodies through another car accident.

“I’m not going to just say, ‘Oh, (fiddlesticks), the season is over,’” tackle Charles Leno Jr. said. “No. We’ve still got next week. And the week after that. And the week after that. We’ve still got many games left, and we’ve just got to keep getting better with the guys we have.”

That’s kind of admirable. Stupid and depressing all things considered, but admirable.

Yet the Bears weren’t the flat-out suckage from a week prior that seemed to make a statement about what the rest of the season would be. There was effort and … and trying … and an entire half in which you were able to justify spending actual minutes-into-hours of your slowly waning life watching this beached whale that isn’t making it back into the water.

And that’s important beyond the mere professionalism or even my selfishness. The day after their previous loss, the Bears lost their best receiver to a PED suspension and had a national football writer relaying teammates’ loss in faith in their quarterback.

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Combined with the incompetence in all facets shown in Tampa coming off a bye week, this game had all the makings of the Bears declaring they were done and had stopped playing for their teammates and coaches.

Regardless of coach John Fox’s eye-rolling quotes, his job was suddenly called into question in the middle of his second season here. Another week of a big ol’ toilet flush certainly would have accelerated that. I don’t know if I want Fox around for the future, but his players certainly worked to show that they weren’t done with him yet.

That includes a player who Fox clearly can’t stand and who doesn’t really care for Fox, as much as Jay Cutler can care about anyone. Cutler took us to the top of the Cutty Coaster that we’ve ridden for — (looks it up) — holy hell, it’s been eight years with him?

This came after a week in which the coaster got stuck upside down on one of the loops and the fire department had to come unharness us. Cutler was pretty good for most of the game, which is a low bar, I know, but as Jay goes so goes the watchability of a Bears game. Hell, some of us might even lie ourselves into watching just to see the guy fail, whacked as that is.

And the bevy of dropped balls by Bears pass-catchers likely don’t get talked about in the newest round of beating the dead Cutler horse. And, yes, Cutler fulfilled the easy Cutler narrative by throwing a pick to seal the game in the end (not one of his infamous bad decisions as much as a result of him slipping on the throw, but whatever).

But you couldn’t even be mad afterward. It was a halfway decent product for a few hours, the Bears almost winning a game on the road against a maybe better-than-mediocre team and convincing me to watch it seemed like a less of a terrible decision than it could have been. Jordan Howard continued to show that he can be the running back of the future even if he can’t catch. The decimated defense put up a valiant effort for which Floyd almost got paralyzed. And there was punter porn from Pat O’Donnell.

Yay, right?

Look, I’m grasping for anything here. I’m not going to not watch the Bears, which is an indictment of my intelligence, I understand. But at least for another week the Bears got me off the hook and let me lie to myself.

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Tim Baffoe is a columnist for CBSChicago.com. Follow Tim on Twitter @TimBaffoe. The views expressed on this page are those of the author, not CBS Local Chicago or our affiliated television and radio stations.