Column: Bears still try to get by with half a team


Column: Bears still try to get by with half a team

CHICAGO (AP) Bears defenders have been running off the field for a half-century now and yelling the same thing at their offensive teammates.

``Try and hold `em.''

One more time, that turned out to be too much to ask.

The Houston Texans arrived in Chicago with the same glittering 7-1 record and ranked in the top 10 in every important offensive category.

They got four turnovers Sunday night, but only did so much with them. They completed 14 passes and managed to muster all of 215 yards against the NFL's No. 1-ranked scoring defense.

But it was more than enough for a 13-6 win against the Bears, who played the second half without quarterback Jay Cutler, concussed after a helmet-to-chin blow delivered by linebacker Tim Dobbins just before intermission.

Still, when backup Jason Campbell entered the game, it seemed he could hardly do worse. Cutler took 40 yards passing, two interceptions and a 16.7 quarterback rating with him to the bench.

Campbell, brought in from Oakland because of his ability to throw deep, wound up more than doubling that production, but never seriously threatened the goal line, either.

The closest Chicago came to scoring behind Campbell was a 48-yard field-goal attempt early in the fourth quarter by Robbie Gould, whose kick through a driving rainstorm clanked off the left upright.

Houston scored its final points on a 42-yard kick by Shayne Graham just inside the five-minute mark, then dropped its defensive backs into deep coverage and dared Campbell to throw.

He did, taking exactly one shot down the field in Chicago's final two possessions, settling instead for a succession of short passes that produced drives of minus-1 and 3 yards respectively with the game on the line.

Coach Lovie Smith has worked overtime during his tenure to keep the bickering between the two sides of the ball at a minimum.

It hasn't been easy, given some of the offensive talent the defense has been asked to prop up; consider this string of quarterbacks since Smith's arrival in 2004: Chad Hutchinson, Craig Krenzel, Kyle Orton, Rex Grossman, Todd Collins and Caleb Hanie.

Afterward, safety Chris Conte was asked what it felt like to watch helplessly as another superb defensive effort circled the drain. He rolled his eyes.

``That's not what I get paid to worry about,'' Conte said. ``That's what the offensive guys get paid to do.''

If so, they're overpaid.

The Texans' first score, a 20-yard field goal, was practically gifted them on the Bears' opening drive. That began hopefully at the Chicago 43, then came to a screeching halt when tight end Kellen Davis caught a short pass and then committed a fumble that Dobbins returned to the Bears 28.

Houston had to earn the game's only touchdown, marching 66 yards in the second quarter with running back Arian Foster grinding out tough yards on three of the six plays before laying out to catch a 2-yard TD pass.

``We couldn't stop the run,'' Smith said. ``You just can't let them run the ball the way they did in that first half. Second half, I thought we played better. ... We tackled better in the second half, which gave us an opportunity.''


The second half could have spilled over into Tuesday and the Bears might be trying to score a touchdown still. More than a quarter of their 27 TDs thus far this season came via the defense - seven interceptions returned for touchdowns - and an eighth was provided by the special teams. In nine games, the defense has yielded 11 opposing TDs.

Foster finished the game with 29 carries for 102 yards rushing, but only 17 of those came after halftime.

``Given the conditions, they knew we were going to try and run the football,'' Texans quarterback Matt Schaub said. ``He was still able to churn out yards and get the tough ones. He just played big.''

Schaub said the rain made the footing difficult ``and left a little bit of a glaze of mud on the ball, which kind of made it tough to grip. It kept you from wanting to take a chance (throwing) down the field.''

But that's exactly what the Bears set out to do when they reversed course four years ago and bundled, among other things, Orton and two first-round picks in a deal to pry Cutler away from Denver. Then they doubled down this past offseason to acquire receiver Brandon Marshall, Cutler's one-time teammate with the Broncos, and provide the deep threat the Bears rarely had.

It turned out to be not much consolation on this night, though Marshall wound up with all but 27 of the Bears' 134 yards receiving - including a 45-yarder from Campbell.

``There was no heads hanged down when Jay was down. There was no complaining,'' Marshall said. ``We understand we have a starting quarterback in the backup so we're fortunate to have him. There will be no drop off in our offense.''

Of course, he sees good things ahead. But that's just because he hasn't been in town very long.


Jim Litke is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at jlitke(at) and follow him at

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Capitals stars react to losing Barry Trotz as head coach

Capitals stars react to losing Barry Trotz as head coach

LAS VEGAS—Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom weren’t expecting to lose their head coach less than two weeks after winning the Stanley Cup.

But business is business, Ovi said, and Barry Trotz is handling his by attempting to capitalize on claiming the championship.

“It’s sad,” Ovechkin said on the red carpet at the NHL Awards, where he accepted his seventh Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy on Wednesday night. “Obviously, we won together.”

The Caps’ captain also thanked Trotz for directing him—and his teammates—to new heights.  

“First of all, [I want to] thank him for a great job to be our coach, to be our dad, to give us a chance to win,” Ovechkin said. “But then again, it’s a business. You never know what’s going to happen. I’m pretty sure he’s going to be fine and I wish him luck.”

Backstrom, meanwhile, said he was caught off guard by Trotz’s decision to step down over a contract stalemate with the team. Trotz asked for $5 million per for five seasons; the Caps balked over the terms Trotz’s camp sought.   

“I was a little surprised, obviously,” Backstrom said. “I heard the scenario.”

Like Ovechkin, though, Backstrom praised the job Trotz did during his four-year tenure.

“He’s done a great job in Washington,” Backstrom said. “We obviously have him to thank for a lot. He’s done a tremendous job of schooling us and winning a championship. No one is going to take that away from him.”

Trotz’s next move is unclear, but he’s a free agent and currently eligible to negotiate with any team. The Islanders are the only team with an opening for a head coach.

As for Washington, GM Brian MacLellan said that associate coach Todd Reirden will get the first crack at replacing Trotz.

Ovechkin said he thinks Reirden would be a good fit.

“We all respect Todd,” Ovechkin said. “We all like him. Again, it’s not our thing to say who’s going to be head coach, but if it’s going to be Todd, it’s going to be fun.”


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A drawing of the moment Ovi lifted the Stanley Cup makes the moment joyful all over again

Daniel Duffy on Twitter/@RealArtOfWords

A drawing of the moment Ovi lifted the Stanley Cup makes the moment joyful all over again

How do you make a photo of Alex Ovechkin hoisting the Stanley Cup for the first time even more memorable?

You make it out of all the Capitals' game scores this year, of course.

Capitals fan and artist Daniel Duffy (@RealArtOfWords) posted a phenomenal finished piece commemorating the Cup win on Wednesday, June 20. It's a little meta and astounding to look at, but very fun to try and read. If you want to relive the glory that was the parts of the 2017-18 Capitals season, check out the piece.

The piece, which appears to be done in a traditional medium like pen or marker, holds the team faced, arena played at, and final score of every game. It uses six colors and over sixty lines of text. Ovechkin roars as he holds the Stanley Cup overhead, the white away jersey shaded with bits of grey text. It takes a skilled eye to sort text and colors into shapes and shading, but Daniel did a fantastic job! It's awesome to see a fanbase create different interpretations of iconic moments. We'll surely see more of Ovechkin in this moment.

Just as we thought we were going to get tired of the celebration, fans find new ways to surprise us. Stay creative, Caps fans!