Monday, Dec. 6, 2010
Posted: 10:35 a.m.
By John Mullin
While it may be natural to dismiss the Detroit Lions and their now 2-10 record, and some Bears clearly did, to their discredit, these were the same Lions who led New England and Dallas at halftimes of their past two games and who had 10 days to prepare for the Bears. These were the same Lions who nearly defeated the Bears in Soldier Field Opening Day on an official's ruling, and who were tied with the Bears at halftime and in the fourth quarter or their games last year with the Bears.
"I don't know why but we never really seem to play great against the Lions," linebacker Brian Urlacher said, shaking his head. "But it's a division game and there's always going to be more on the line no matter what the records are."
The Detroit defense hung as many sacks (four) on the Bears as it did the first time the teams met this year. "They came out and played hard," said right tackle J'Marcus Webb, who had his pads full with defensive end Cliff Avril and a ramped up Detroit pass rush in the first half. "I guess you could say this was their game of the year."
When the Bears come to Detroit, "it seems like they just come out faster than we do; I don't know why," said safety Danieal Manning. "Next year we've got to start faster, period."
Devin Hester had the NFL record for return touchdowns in his sights, literally, in the third quarter when he took a Nick Harris punt back 30 yards before the last man, Harris, brought him down with a "tackle" that left Hester grumpy afterwards. Being tackled by kickers can leave returners that way.
"It's just lazy tacklers, they just get in the way and trip you up," Hester said. "It's frustrating. He fell down, I tried to jump over him and he grabbed my foot. ... That punt return should've been a touchdown."
Jay Cutler continues to develop as a quarterback but his stellar play of late and the overall progress of the offense shouldn't obscure one very ominous aspect that is still far from satisfactory.
The four sacks by Detroit marked the sixth time in 12 games that Cutler was sacked at least four times and in two of the others (Green Bay, Miami) he was taken down three times.
No one had ever heard the call "simultaneous possession" and a couple players laughingly wondered if the officials came up with the phrase on the spot. But it cost the Bears a platinum chance of taking over Sunday's game much earlier than the fourth quarter.
Defensive end Israel Idonije forced a fumble by running back Maurice Morris at the Detroit 28 and gained control of the ball in the resulting scrum. But Morris wriggled in enough to get his hands on the ball and in the NFL, a tie goes to the offense.
"That was a terrible call. I clearly had the ball," Idonije said, crossing his arms tightly across his chest to demonstrate. "I had the ball for few seconds and then the other guy came in and just put his hands on the ball and the officials said it was this 'simultaneous possession.'"
"Turn out the lights, the party's over" ...
The passing of Dandy Don Meredith at age 72 throws a bit of a cloud over the NFL today. He, Frank Gifford and Howard Cosell made Monday Night Football, and the Danderoo was the absolute perfect counterweight to the (for some) detestable Howard.
Meredith was one fine quarterback as well, just with the misfortune of having his career overlap with the Green Bay Packers dynasty. And Chicago will have to always wonder what might have been had the Bears, who made Meredith their third-round pick in the 1960 draft, kept that kid out of SMU instead of trading him to the Dallas Cowboys for future draft picks.
But maybe things work out as they should after all. Meredith went to and helped fashion the "America's Team" that the Cowboys became. And for a fun watch sometime, watch "North Dallas Forty" and "Seth," the Mac Davis character in particular. You'll get the idea.
The NFL star is a little dimmer today for the loss.
John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.