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Sunday, December 12, 2010
Simply put, Bears were outclassed

By Michael C. Wright



CHICAGO -- Bears nickel corner D.J. Moore likened it to a child enduring corporal punishment.

Swat, swat, swat.

The New England Patriots bent Chicago over a knee in spanking the Bears back to reality from a five-game winning streak by way of a 36-7 thrashing Sunday to erase any ideas they may have harbored about belonging among the league’s elite.

“It’s like when you get a whipping when you’re little or something,” Moore explained. “You cry; your mom talks to you. You learn from it.”

The lesson: The Bears aren’t quite ready for the big show, regardless of the confidence they displayed previously in running off five straight victories after their Nov. 7 bye. That’s not to say they won’t be prepared when it matters most.

But on this day, the Bears were woefully outcoached and outplayed.

“Embarrassed?” defensive tackle Tommie Harris asked. “Children get embarrassed. Grown men know how to come back from that, and that’s what I think we’ll do.”

Playing in blizzard-like conditions, worsened by winds around 30 mph coming from the Northwest -- "Bear weather” as coach Lovie Smith likes to say -- Chicago's supposed homefield advantage turned out to be a major hindrance for both the offense and defense.

Offensively, the Bears produced their lowest point total (7) and yardage total (185) since an Oct. 3 debacle at the New York Giants, while quarterback Jay Cutler reverted to “Old Jay” in turning over the ball three times (two interceptions and a fumble).

Coming off a three-game stretch in which he averaged 92.7 yards rushing, running back Matt Forte finished Sunday with 25 yards, while his backfield mate Chester Taylor finished with more carries (3) than yards (1) for the third time in four outings.

Brian Urlacher
Brian Urlacher and the Bears' defense were unable to contain Tom Brady on Sunday.
Since the bye week, the Bears had been converting 52.9 percent on third downs only to watch that number slip to 38 percent in the loss to the Patriots.

Keep in mind this sudden futility came against a Patriots team entering Sunday with the 31st-ranked defense, which allowed an average of 390.0 yards per game. Cutler passed for just 152 yards against a defense that had allowed an average of 276.8 over the first 12 games.

“During a five-game winning streak, everybody starts to think we’ve arrived, we’ve made it, we’re the best team that we can be,” Forte said. “This goes to show you we’ve got a lot of work to and can get better.”

That goes for the defense, too.

By now there should be no doubt about whether New England’s 13th-ranked offense coming into Sunday is better than Chicago’s third-ranked defense. In the worst field conditions that either of the teams had seen up to this point, Brady and the Patriots rolled up 475 yards of offense, which is the most the Bears have allowed all season.

Putting it into perspective -- while illustrating the harsh reality that Chicago isn’t in the same class as New England -- the closest the Bears have come to that type of production on offense is the season opener against Detroit (463 yards) on Sept. 12, which was played at Soldier Field. The official temperature that day was 75 degrees with 10 mile-per-hour winds.

On the road, in the worst conditions he’d seen all year, against the NFL’s third-ranked defense, Brady put on a passing clinic, throwing for 351 yards and two touchdowns. Receivers Deion Branch and Wes Welker found the holes in the Bears’ zone defense to haul in eight balls apiece for 151 and 115 yards, respectively.

The 33 points New England racked up by halftime rank as the second-most allowed by the Bears in an opening half, and matched the net yardage (33) the home team put up in the first two quarters.

“It looked like the weather didn’t affect them at all,” said linebacker Brian Urlacher, who registered his fourth sack of the season. “We didn’t expect this result.”

Perhaps nobody did. But there’s a positive to it all, fellow linebacker Lance Briggs explained.

“Sometimes you need a good whipping,” he said. “That’s what we got. A good whipping helps us get ourselves back to where we need to be. A loss like this can be good if it comes at the right time.”

Was the timing of the debacle ideal?

Not really, but the truth is the Bears can still clinch the NFC North next week with a win over the Minnesota Vikings, and a loss by the Green Bay Packers, which travel to New England.

“I’ve been in this situation before where you’ve been blown out,” Smith said. “This game counts as one loss, no more than that. We just have to take care of business from here on out.”

Harris even talked about the Bears possibly seeing the Patriots again in the coming months.

Obviously, the only way for that to happen would be in the Super Bowl.

“We’ll learn a lot from this. I’m not embarrassed at all,” Harris said. “I think when you’re a fighter, you’re gonna lose sometimes. You learn more from losing than winning. It’s about how you come back from it.”