Bears

Without defensive TD's, Bears 'O' cant tally points of its own

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Without defensive TD's, Bears 'O' cant tally points of its own

SAN FRANCISCO The San Francisco defense was barely allowing two touchdowns (14.1 points) per game, No. 1 in the NFL, and the Bears were down by 17 early in the second quarter with the offense falling to a new low. The Bears ran 23 plays for a net 35 yards, minus-one passing after Jason Campbell was sacked three times in the first 18 plays.

The third-quarter touchdown pass to Brandon Marshall was the only touchdown scored by the Bears since the fourth quarter of the Tennessee game eight quarters.

The game was effectively over at halftime with the Bears down 20-0 and the Bears totaling just three first downs while giving up 22 yards in sacks vs. 21 yards on Campbells four completions.

But the problems extended far, far beyond Campbell, who was making his first start in more than a calendar year. Not that he would invoke it, but at least he had an excuse. The rest of what is suddenly one of the most inept offenses in the NFC has none.

QUARTERBACK: F

It was arguably for this exact game more than this one if Jay Cutler is not sufficiently over his concussion symptoms by the start of practices this week that the Bears invested 3.5 million in a one-year deal for Campbell. That investment is suspect at this early moment.

Campbell was inaccurate and failed to get rid of the ball on time to take hits in the first half, one for a sack and one for an interception. That was just the beginning of a horrendous night for a veteran who looked like anything but. He was a woeful 4-for-8 for 21 yards and a passer rating of 16.7 in the first half when the game had some chance of salvage

Campbell threw a second interception in the third quarter, overthrowing Earl Bennett late in a route.

Campbell finished 14-of-22, a rating of 52.7 and 107 yards, which netted to just 58 after the 49 yards on sacks were assessed. He had little enough time too frequently but his play when there was time was far from what the Bears need in this most difficult stretch of their 2012 schedule.

RUNNING BACK: D

The game plan was to run Matt Forte and the Bears did, 11 times in the first half but for only 32 net yards, no carry longer than eight yards. Michael Bush accounted for just nine yards on his five carries but did produce the Bears longest pass completion (18 yards). Forte had three catches for a total of four yards.

Neither back contributed effectively to pass protection, although the hemorrhaging in Campbells protection would have needed more than 11 players on offense.

RECEIVERS: F

Brandon Marshall appeared to lose composure on more than one occasion, demanding the ball before the snap despite tight double coverage, and having a couple of frustration incidents in the first half, but zero catches. When he did catch one for a TD, when the Bears were down 27-0 late in the third quarter, he was in the face of the 49ers DB.

Getting Alshon Jeffery back from his broken hand was supposed to help. But Jeffery was targeted only twice in the first half, both for catches and injured a knee in the second, leaving the game. Devin Hester ran poor routes and receivers gave Campbell little help in situations where he needed lots of it. Hester tied for team-high with three catches but had a long of nine yards.

No Bears receiver had a catch of longer than 13 yards.

OFFENSIVE LINE: F-

The breakdowns were virtually everywhere and on play after play. JMarcus Webb failed to handle an Aldon Smith bull rush leading to a first-possession sack and was manhandled by Smith for another in the second quarter.

Smith combined with Justin Smith on a stunt and pushed Chilo Rachal back into Campbell for a third sack in the first half. When Smith flipped over to his left side, he overran Gabe Carimi. Both Carimi and Webb were completely beaten on the sackstrip by basic outside edge rushes by Smith and OLB Ahmad Brooks.

That continued in the second half, with moments ranging from bizarre to surreal. Carimi was knocked over backwards on an A-Smith bull rush while Webb was being caved in by J-Smith for a shared sack. A play later Carimi whiffed completely for another A-Smith sack and strip in the end zone. Rachal was called for intentional grounding trying to grab it and throw it out of the end zone. That was reviewed and the call was reversed to a safety.

Rachal was called for holding to stunt a first-half drive and was flagged again in the fourth quarter behind the play on a Campbell scramble.

COACHING: F

The 49ers schemed to take away Marshall and the Bears had no answer and were unable to protect Campbell repeatedly on the edges or when San Francisco used interior-line stunts.

Play calling did not adjust to the Bears inability to pass-protect for longer than three seconds and players, both backs and receivers, seemed unprepared for hot situations.

The fact that Forte totaled four yards on three pass receptions raises questions about play design or play calling.

Promising start turns ugly as Bears drop another one to an NFC North rival

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USA TODAY

Promising start turns ugly as Bears drop another one to an NFC North rival

Oh, it all started so promising.

The Bears looked like a well-oiled machine early Sunday, looking like the kind of team bouncing back from a gut-wrenching loss to the Green Bay Packers a week prior. But with another NFC North rival in town, this time the Detroit Lions, things turned ugly in a hurry — and the result ended up the same.

The Bears lost for the seventh time in 10 games this season, falling to the Lions by a 27-24 score on the shores of Lake Michigan.

An offense that has struggled to put points on the board much of the year — and couldn’t match a Packers offense led by backup quarterback Brett Hundley last weekend — started strong, with three scoring drives in its first four possessions. Mitch Trubisky led scoring drives of 70, 55 and 73 yards, producing 17 points and had the Bears ahead by 10 midway through the second quarter.

The lone Lions points came after a rare miscue by the offense in the opening 20-plus minutes when Trubisky fumbled a snap, only for D.J. Hayden to run it back 27 yards for a touchdown. But still, the Bears looked the superior team on both sides of the ball.

It was then, though, that Matt Stafford flipped a switch and started picking apart the Bears’ defense. Backed up at his own nine-yard line after an offensive pass-interference penalty, Stafford marched the Lions down the field, rattling off completions of 17, 40 and 28 yards, the last a touchdown pass that took advantage of a badly burned Marcus Cooper.

Stafford then led a 73-yard touchdown drive, once again picking apart the Bears’ secondary and giving his Lions a lead right before the half, a sudden turn of events considering the Bears had a double-digit lead not long before.

After an uneventful third quarter, the Bears tied the game with five minutes remaining on a stellar touchdown run by Tarik Cohen. But Stafford marched the Lions right down the field immediately afterward, and the Lions cashed in with a 52-yard go-ahead field goal.

Trubisky led the Bears downfield and put them in position for a game-tying field goal, but Connor Barth’s attempt was way off the mark, sending the Bears to another upsetting defeat.

Tarik Cohen gets back in the game

After earning much social-media scorn the last few weeks, the Bears’ coaching staff brought Tarik Cohen back with a vengeance.

The rookie running back proved himself a dangerous offensive weapon early in the season, but he had been largely absent for weeks, combining for just five rushing attempts and three receptions in the previous three games against the Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints and aforementioned Packers.

Well, the Bears’ coaches must have heard all that criticism and heavily involved Cohen, who finished with nine rushes for 44 yards and four catches for 15 yards. He was targeted a total of six times.

And Cohen came up with a huge play late in the game, taking a shovel pitch from Trubisky, running to the pylon and flipping his way into the end zone, extending the ball in midair to make sure it was a touchdown. That score tied the game at 24 with five minutes left.

Banged-up Bears

The Bears’ defense — already well bothered with injuries — added a couple more to the list Sunday.

None seemed more significant than the one to Leonard Floyd, who was taken off the field on a cart in the fourth quarter after Kyle Fuller crashed into Floyd’s right knee. Floyd spent a good deal of time on the ground before the cart came out.

Fuller suffered a wrist injury on the same play, with TV cameras catching the sight of an awful lot of blood.

At various points, defensive linemen Akiem Hicks and Eddie Goldman left the field with members of the training staff. And on the offensive side, wide receiver Josh Bellamy was announced as being in the concussion protocol after a play in the third quarter.

Gustav Forsling showing improvement in his second season with Blackhawks

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USA TODAY

Gustav Forsling showing improvement in his second season with Blackhawks

On two consecutive Saturday evenings the Blackhawks were looking for a little more offense. On two consecutive Saturday evenings they got some from Gustav Forsling, whose shots got through to either tie a game (vs. Carolina) or take a lead (vs. Pittsburgh).

Forsling isn’t the big go-to guy when it comes to points but he’s nevertheless getting them for a Blackhawks team that’s starting to find its offense again. But this is more about Forsling’s overall game which, not long after he made the Blackhawks roster last fall, plateaued. This season he’s been more consistent and more confident from the start, and he and Jan Rutta have formed a pair that coach Joel Quenneville trusts and has kept together for most of this season. The 21-year-old defenseman talked of working on the mental side of his game entering this season and said he feels the difference.

“I’ve been working on it this summer and I feel a little bit better,” he said. “[Just] more confident with the puck and confident in myself and pretty much everywhere.”

Quenneville has seen the difference.

“I think he’s getting better with his reads,” Quenneville said. “He’s got a better gap. [Being] quicker all over the ice is part of that and nice to see him pound one that goes through because his shot can be a lot heavier than it’s been and we want him to use it a little bit more, too.”

Forsling says he feels comfortable playing with any of the Blackhawks’ defensemen but there’s no doubt he and Rutta have been good together. The two clicked immediately, and at times they’ve been the Blackhawks’ second pair.

“I think we’re thinking the same way out there on the ice. We have a great conversation out there and everything’s worked out fine,” Forsling said. “He’s a funny guy and we get along well.”

Forsling’s offensive contributions are welcomed but so is his defense. When the Rangers were looking for the game-tying goal late in the third period on Wednesday, Forsling was on Corey Crawford’s left side to prevent David Desharnais from scoring it. Seventy-six seconds later, Artem Anisimov’s goal gave the Blackhawks a two-goal lead.

“Great play by him,” Crawford said. “For us, we want to cover the short side there and it’s great or him to get over quick and get his stick there. Definitely a great stop by him.”

Forsling’s playing with more confidence. He’s added a little early offense. The Blackhawks wanted Forsling to reach another level this season and so far, he’s doing that.