After a scoreless first half, I bet fans were just aching for this game to end in regulation. For Bronco fans, it was setting up perfectly for another installment of “Tebow Time.” Fortunately, the Bears had other ideas, forcing two turnovers from Timmy Teebs and shutting the Broncos down.
…That’s exactly what I had written at a 10-0 score with 4:34 left in the game when Chicago let loose a monumental collapse, dropping their sixth game of the year and handing the Broncos their sixth straight W. Two Matt Prater field goals of 59 and 51 yards were the key, the first sending the game into overtime and the second securing the sudden death victory.
(8-5) Denver Broncos 13
(7-6) Chicago Bears 10
There’s plenty of blame to go around for this horrific failure. Everyone is going to point at Marion Barber for his two colossal errors and rightly so. His failure to understand the situation and keep the ball inbounds in the fourth opened the door for a comeback in regulation. The fumble on the first drive overtime (while on his way to what seemed to be a touchdown) was unacceptable. Barber cost his team the game TWICE. But he’s not the only one to blame. How about putting it on the offense, who had a chance to convert on third and five after Barber’s out of bounds blunder and keep the ball?
Oh wait, I know. I’m going to blame the defense, who, after over 3 ½ quarters of shut-out football gave up three scoring drives and wasted a two-score lead. I’m certainly calling out Tim Jennings’ 15 yard cushion on Matt Willis, who ran right up the sidelines and sat down on Denver’s fourth quarter field goal drive. The sideline is exactly where you CAN’T let him catch the ball! Any outside coverage has to be tight and funneling the receiver to the inside. (Ya know, like the cover-two’s corner zone is supposed to do.) Smith’s defense softened when it mattered most, letting a quarterback who was 3 for 15 at one point lead his team to another inexplicable victory. As much as Barber can be blamed, it was the defense that allowed all 13 points on three straight drives.
The defensive unit nearly dug their own early hole with two costly (and questionable) roughing the passer penalties as Israel Idonije went low and Lance Briggs went high on separate hits on Tebow. However, they saved themselves alive with timely turnovers. Charles Tillman’s toe-tapping sideline interception as Tim Tebow made a scrambling throw to his left kept the Broncos away from field goal range in the first quarter. On a pass play early in the fourth, Craig Steltz rushed Tim Tebow late and knocked the ball away to the ground where Israel Idonije fell on top of it, forcing the second of Tim Tebow’s turnovers. The Bears tackled well and kept the Denver receivers in check for the most part, never letting up extra yardage. They even jacked up Tebow, sacking him five times on the day. But as we all saw, they tired late and made plenty of miscues. The pass rush faltered and failed to get in Tebow’s face as he found his open receivers who finally caught the ball after several drops. Chicago never let Tebow beat them with his legs with regularity, but they couldn’t bring him down in the pocket on the Denver scoring drives.
On special teams, Chicago certainly came to play. Julius Peppers stepped up to block a 28-yard field goal in the second quarter, shifting momentum away from the Broncos. Devin Hester’s 26 yard punt return to Denver’s 42 yard line set-up Robbie Gould’s record-setting 57-yard field goal to start the fourth quarter put the Bears up two scores, a key when facing the King of Comebacks. They recovered a high-bouncing onside kick with just over two minutes to go which looked to have all –but sealed the game. But it was not to be.
Offensively the Bears were near-putrid. I give Martz credit for finding the stones to stick with the running game in the second half, as Marion Barber got his nine yard score after churning up turf on a short field. 24 yards on the following drive allowed Gould to get a shot at a long field goal. Other than that, there were bad drops (Hester over the middle) stupid penalties (two Lance Louis false starts), and bad decision-making (Hanie picking on Champ Bailey in the first quarter). I’m on the record with saying Caleb Hanie isn’t a back-up-caliber NFL quarterback. As much as I don’t like Josh McCown, I might let him see some first team snaps this week. If all he has to do is hand-off during live action, why not?
Other Notes of Note:
-Good job by FOX catching Caleb Hanie trying to console Marion Barber on the bench. Great shot, despite how depressed we all were.
-Roy Williams had a surprisingly decent game, despite the few plays the offense made. His outside block made the Barber score possible while a conversion on third down on the next drive got the Bears in relative field goal range.
-I eventually had to just start laughing at the sheer craziness of it all, otherwise I would have thrown up.
-I still hate Teebs.
Suck it up Bear fans. We got Tebow’d. And the loss is fairly significant, as the Lions and Falcons both won to get to 8-5, moving us out of the picture. We almost need to win out in these final three games to get into the playoffs and I don’t see how that happens. Denver and Kansas City were supposed to be two of the more winnable outings. Now we’ll have issues staying above .500. Happy Fuckin' times.
Bear Down and Happy Jay Cutler Day!