COMMENTARY | A couple years ago, my family arrived home from a week-long vacation to discover that our garbage disposal had given up the ghost in our absence. With chicken from a pre-vacation meal still in it. In July. And if my cable package included smell-o-vision, I'm pretty sure I'd have whiffed a similar odor during the Chicago Bears game.
While there were some fantastic moments, like Devin Hester's all-time record-tying punt return and Matt Forte's 50-yard TD scamper, the overall scent of the game was that of hot garbage.
Now, in the case of my sink stink, there was no need to assign blame, even though it was probably my wife's fault. But since the Bears can't give me the cold shoulder or make me sleep on the couch, I have no reservations about pointing fingers or casting aspersions.
So let's take a look at the culprits responsible for this Bears loss.
Bears Run D
Even amidst the furor over Washington's nickname, the Bears' run defense may have been the most offensive thing in this game. Through the first 6 games of the season, Chicago had given up only 102 rushing yards per game, which was 12th in the NFL.
The Redskins pounded and sprinted their way to 209 yards on the ground, which included 3 Roy Helu Jr. TDs. To paraphrase Ray Peterson, Tom Hanks' character in The 'Burbs: I've never seen that. I've never seen anyone drive the Bears defense out to the curb and bang the hell out of it with a stick. I, I've never seen that.
With all due respect to Forrest Gump, Apollo 13, and Joe Versus the Volcano, The 'Burbs is Hanks' best movie and I brook no truck with any man, woman, or Klopek who would argue otherwise. But I digress.
The Bears allowed nearly 300 yards through the air as well, at times appearing confused and clumsy in their pass coverage. But it was their inability to stop the run that allowed the Redskins to control the clock, and the game, for just shy of 34 minutes.
Jay Cutler's Groin
Maybe the trainers weren't as diligent in their pre-game stretching routines. Or perhaps Cutler's groin got tired of its owner's head being his most-maligned body part. Whatever the reason, Cutler was forced out early after being sacked.
Josh McCown was actually more than capable, completing 14 of 20 passes for 204 yards and a TD on his way to a 119.6 passer rating. Even so, his inexperience showed at times and the Bears offense stalled both early and late under his leadership.
But make no mistake, the Bears need Jay Cutler if they expect to compete for a title in a division with Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford, and whatever QB the Vikings happen to be sending out there to hand the ball off to Adrian Peterson.
Eric Weems' lower leg
As Fox's resident officiating guru Mike Pereira explained during the broadcast, officials are more stringent when it comes to offsides penalties during onside kicks. In Weems' case, the narrowed definition meant that his left knee broke the plane of the 35 yard line.
The penalty negated the result of the surprise play, which the Bears had recovered. While it's certainly not fair to assume that the Bears would have converted the opportunity, the penalty was deflating to say the least.
Weems has been best known during his tenure with the Bears for, well, not being the special teams demon they signed him to be. This time, rather than not returning a kick, he managed to prevent the Bears from recovering one.
Robbie Gould's missed FG
You math majors may have already deduced that an additional 3 points wouldn't have tipped the scales in the Bears' favor. But, I've already address Cutler's groin and Weems' knee, so why not Gould's foot?
Sending that kick just a few inches to the left would have meant more than just an additional 3 points on the scoreboard. When a kicker who routinely splits the uprights on much deeper kicks fails from only 34 yards, the disappointment is magnified.
The 2nd Quarter
I've written before about Chicago's struggles in the 3rd quarter, but this time it was the 2nd that did them in. While they did get one TD as the result of Devin Hester's milestone punt return, they surrendered three .
Washington scored on the ground (Roy Helu Jr. 14 yard rumble), on defense (Brian Orakpo pick-6), and through the air (Robert Griffin III 3 yard pass to Jordan Reed). Even a caveman knows that you can't allow that to happen and still expect to win.
Maybe as important as the scores themselves was their timing. Helu Jr. and Orakpo found the end zone in a 17-second span in the first 2 minutes of the frame, and RGIII found Reed with only 27 seconds remaining. That gave the 'Skins the confidence and momentum they needed to win the game.
Okay, so was it a little harsh to liken this game to rotten meat? Perhaps. After all, the Bears had already lost two defensive tackles and a middle linebacker to season-ending injuries. Lance Briggs (who, it was just announced, will miss 4-6 weeks with a shoulder injury), Peanut Tillman and Jay Cutler were all banged up and had to watch the end of the game from the sidelines.
But allowing the Redskins to hang 45 on the scoreboard is inexcusable, even playing short-handed on the road. There's no crying in baseball, and no such thing as a moral victory in the NFL.
Evan Altman grew up in Northwest Indiana, where the Bears reigned supreme. He now lives in the heart of Colts country, but you can hear his kids singing "Bear Down, Chicago Bears" every gameday.
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