The Bears were supposed to beat the dogbreath Panthers.
They weren’t supposed to play dogbreath themselves in doing it.
What a miserable come-from-behind win.
It counts, sure. It makes the Bears 6-1. But it was aggravating to watch and, worse, terribly depressing in trying to project the big things this team has talked about and been expected to accomplish.
We know the Bears have mastered bad first halves, but this was a disaster even for them.
Six sacks. An interception. Two fumbles. Some dropped passes. An average of minus-1.7 yards per pass. Zero-for-3 on third down. An 18.1 quarterback rating.
I believe the Bears also declined the offensive tackle positions.
Bad play and bad play-calling killed the Bears from the start. I mean, the quarterback with the badly bruised ribs dropping back to pass on first down? Seriously?
Of course, the play became a sack. Bad play-calling karma right there.
Matt Forte averaged 7.6 yards a carry in the first half. That was about the average sack that Jay Cutler suffered. Forte historically owned the Panthers, but the Bears were passing? Connect the dots.
Twitterverse lip-readers clucked about a perceived pottymouth comment by Cutler regarding the booing fans as he left the field at halftime. I couldn’t tell, but the problem wasn’t the fans. Heck, given the way the first half went, the fans would’ve cheered if Cutler had simply gotten rid of the ball to avoid a sack/strip.
The Bears' defense was miserable in its own way, allowing the Panthers to convert 10 of 19 third downs. That’s how you give up a staggering 416 yards. That’s how you give up drives of 17 and 12 plays totaling nearly a quarter’s worth of the game.
The Bears seemed to take a measured approach to pressuring cranky Carolina quarterback Cam Newton. They seemed more interested in containing his scrambling and dared him to beat them with the pass, just as the Panthers squibbed kickoffs that never reached Devin Hester and dared Cutler’s offense to beat them even if it conceded good field position.
For almost 60 minutes, the Panthers were winning the bet, and that’s another part of the aggravation. The Bears scored touchdowns on both drives they started in Carolina territory, but had four other drives that started outside their own 40 and got nothing, twice fumbling away the ball.
The score seemed like it should’ve been worse, but Carolina executed in Bears territory like a 1-6 team. The Bears were allowed to hang around, and once again had good field position after another squibbed kickoff.
And they promptly went three-and-out, capped by a Hester drop. 'Course.
That series featured three straight passes. They used little clock. Playcalling again was mind-boggling, and the defense was back out there. Oy.
By the time the Panthers made it 19-7, they had 369 yards compared to the Bears’ 61. They also had a time-of-possession advantage of 30:22-13:08.
But bad teams give you a chance. Good teams take advantage. Well, decent teams do, and the Bears did.
After a shanked punt that went six yards and gave the Bears possession at the Carolina 38, Kellen Davis leaped to grab a TD pass. Yes, you heard me, Davis held on to a pass.
Then Bears killer Steve Smith fell down making a cut and Tim Jennings returned an interception for the go-ahead score. Suddenly, it was Bears, 20-19.
And then, suddenly, it was Panthers, 22-20, after a field goal with 2:32 remaining.
And then, suddenly and finally, the Bears executed when it mattered most. Cutler was 6-for-7 on the winning drive. Robbie Gould made up for a missed field goal to convert a 41-yarder for the difference. Bears, 23-22.
But really, should it take kind of struggle just to edge one of the worst teams in the league at home?