10 plays that shaped the season: No. 10

January, 17, 2014
Jan 17
8:00
AM ET
WHEN: Oct. 20, 2013

WHERE: A 45-41 loss to the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field.

THE PLAY: Operating out of the no-huddle offense with 6:03 remaining in the game, Robert Griffin III scrambles around left end and is pushed out of bounds at the Washington 33 for a 1-yard gain by Jonathan Bostic. On the play, Lance Briggs suffered a shoulder injury as he attempted to shed tight end Logan Paulsen’s block.

WHAT THEY SAID: Bears cornerback Tim Jennings: “I’ve seen Lance make some amazing plays since I’ve been here, and it’s been consistent. Of course, nobody’s perfect out there. But he makes more plays than he leaves out there. So it’s going to be tough not having him out there, man. But hopefully we can get him back as soon as possible so he can continue to play at a high level. Lance will always be the leader here. Even though he’s not on the field playing with us, he’s going to be on the sideline coaching guys up. And we still have [Charles Tillman] out there. We have myself. We’ve got Julius [Peppers]. We’ve still got guys out there who are capable of being the leaders out there. But one guy is not going to carry us all [with Lance out]. We just need every guy to do their job and be where he’s supposed to be to pick up the slack now that Lance won’t be out there with us.”

IMPACT OF THE PLAY: Ten days after starting middle linebacker D.J. Williams suffered a season-ending injury, the Bears received more tough luck when Briggs left the game with a fractured shoulder that was initially expected to keep him out of the lineup for four-to-six weeks. An optimist, Briggs expected the timeline to be more like two-to-three weeks, but Briggs wound up missing the next seven games with rookie Khaseem Greene starting in his spot. Briggs wasn’t able to return to the starting lineup until Dec. 22 at Philadelphia, and when the veteran came back, he was largely ineffective because of the long layoff. Prior to missing time with the shoulder injury, Briggs was leading the team with 64 tackles. In the same game, the Bears lost quarterback Jay Cutler with a torn groin muscle. But Cutler missed only one game before returning Nov. 10 against the Detroit Lions before spraining an ankle that would force him out of the next four games. Given all the team’s struggles on defense, and the fact the offense continued to roll without its starting quarterback in the fold, the loss of Briggs was probably more detrimental to the club’s playoff hopes than Cutler’s four-game absence after the Detroit game.

Michael C. Wright

ESPN Chicago Bears reporter

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