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These aren't the Bears we know

By Jack M Silverstein

For RedEye

5:33 PM CDT, October 6, 2013

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I was sitting at the Blue Line Bar watching the Bears eek out a loss to New Orleans when two Bears veterans made horrible plays. People were rolling off the train and lining up to watch Cutler and the offense march and march and march. The Bears were driving and all was looking up.

Then a fourth-and-2 pass bounced off the normally reliable mitts of Earl Bennett.

Six plays later, Drew Brees tricked Lance Briggs into jumping offside on a fourth-and-1, leading to a game-clinching field goal.

How the hell did this happen? How did two of the most trustworthy Bears veterans make two egregiously faulty plays? Nobody could figure it out.

"Noooooo!" the people screamed when Bennett dropped his pass.

"NOOOOOOOOOOOO!" they exclaimed when Briggs jumped offside. "Not Briggs. How could it happen to BRIGGS?"

The people were stunned. So was I. So were the announcers. So were Bennett and Briggs. Their faces after their respective gaffes were painted with pain and confusion.

So the Bears mustered another eight-point loss. The stats seemed positive, but the result was not. For the second consecutive week, Alshon Jeffery posted a career high in receiving yards, while Cutler had his first career game with 350 yards passing and a 120-plus quarterback rating. In fact, Cutler's 128.1 QB rating was his highest ever in a loss.

That's the key phrase: IN A LOSS. The Bears didn't force any turnovers, committed six penalties, lost Nate Collins to injury, let Cutler get sacked three times and invaded the red zone only three times.

They finally punched it in for a touchdown on the third time. But this was quite late in the fourth and nearly all the hope was gone. "Did they score?" asked a woman walking by outside.

"Yep," I said, "but now they need a 2-point conversion, and then a successful onside kick, and then a touchdown and another 2-point conversion. And that will only get us to overtime."

"At least it's something," she said.

It wasn't.

Jack M Silverstein is a RedEye special contributor. @readjack

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