I've finally gotten past unclenching my teeth over the Chicago Bears loss yesterday. It was bad enough that the loss was against their Big Rivals, the Green Bay Packers. It was worse that it knocked the Bears out of the playoffs. And it was worse still that it allowed the Packers to make the playoffs. But it's how they lost that was teeth gnashing.
Even if you don't follow sports, this is a tale that is easy to follow and borderline inexplicable. At the very least, clicking on the two links to see the replays will be equally as clear and easy to see the mind-numbing screw ups.
You'd think that if a team knew that their fate was in their own hands, and that all they had to do was win one game to make the playoffs, then that team would be SO focused and battling tooth-and-nail on every single play to get that win. And I'm sure the Bears are all telling themselves that they did just that.
But seriously folks.
Last week against the Philadelphia Eagles, when all the Bears had to do was win, and they were in the playoffs, they got crushed 54-11. It was one of the most-lopsided loss in the teams' very long history.
This week was almost worse. Mind you, the score was much closer, 33-38. And the Bears were even leading with 38 seconds left. And it was fourth down for the Packers, who needed eight yards to keep their hopes alive. Instead, they got 48 yards and a touchdown to win the game.
On what was clearly going to be a pass play, somehow the Packers receiver not only got behind the Bears defense, but so far behind them that no defender was within five yards of him. I know the explanation was that the Bears were focused on the eight yards needed and set-up to stop that. But that's the explanation -- the reality is that they let a receiver get beyond them uncovered on a pass play that would have won the team the division.
I can't embed the play directly, but this NFL Tweet has the video embedded in it.
But here's the thing. THAT isn't the most galling, unfocused, unthinking play.
That one came in the second quarter. The Packers were driving for a touchdown, on the Bears 15 yard when. Their quarterback Aaron Rodgers went back to throw, but was hit and the pass fell incomplete on the ground. However, it wasn't a pass, it was ruled a fumble. The referees never blew their whistles meaning the play was still active.
And with the ball just sitting on the ground, active, in play, no Bear leaped on it. In fairness, no played leaped on it, everyone thought the play was over. But one Packer, Jarrett Boykin, runs over to pick it up. Only after wandering around for a few seconds, thinking the play is over, too, his teammates on the sidelines began screaming at him to run, and he finally turns and races off to score a bizarre touchdown. As the Bears stood around.
Again, I know the explanation was that everyone thought the play was over. But -- this was the game where if you won you went to the playoffs, and if you lost you went home. You'd think that on every play, every player on your team would leap and dig and scrabble after every ball -- until you heard the referee's whistle that a play was over. And you'd think that your teammates on the sideline would be so focused on the game that they, too, would be screaming at you to get the ball just laying there, because the whistle hadn't blown. (In fairness, maybe they were. But given that no Bear on the field seemed to be doing anything other than wandering aimlessly, I suspect that that isn't the case.)
Again, I can't embed the video of that bizarre play directly, but here is a link to the page that has it imbedded. Even if you don't follow football, it will be clear how utterly strange -- and really bad -- this is.
Click here to see the play in action.
But here's the photo of the Chicago Bears, with everything on the line, just standing around. As the ball on the right sits there. Waiting for a Packer to pick it up. And score what turned out to be the difference in the game.
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Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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