They have told you all along that they were close to being good, close to executing, close to being at the level of play that took them to the ultimate stage last season. And you see glimpses of it just about every time out, but the simple fact is this Bears team is not good enough to provide a sustained winning effort.
They did the unthinkable Sunday in winning the turnover ratio 4-0 and losing. The defense also forced three three-and-punts. That’s controlling seven Giants’ possessions. The Bears controlled nearly the entire game until the offense couldn’t provide any kind of surge in the second half. New York pulled within 16-14 and Lawrence Tynes’ kickoff went out of bounds.
It set Rex Grossman & Co. up on the Bears’ 40-yard line with 6:54 to play and a lead to protect. Grossman picks up eight yards on first down with a pass to running back Adrian Peterson and then the whole thing goes awry. Peterson is stopped for a one-yard loss by Michael Strahan and Grossman can’t get rid of the football while going backward, taking a nine-yard sack from Justin Tuck and Kawika Mitchell.
The Bears punt and the rest is history. Eli Manning, the quarterback who was supposed to be more maligned than Grossman, marched straight through the Bears’ defense. This is the same Manning who threw two picks, fumbled once and was missing receivers by yards, not feet.
“Well, you know, things were going pretty good for us,’’ defensive coordinator Bob Babich said when asked if it seemed like the Bears had Manning on the ropes. ``But you know once again our job is to finish and make sure we keep them out of the end zone and we were not able to accomplish that the last couple drives.’’
You can’t kick Grossman around this time. He completed 25-of-46 for 296 yards and would have had 81 more had a perfectly thrown bomb not gone off Devin Hester’s shoulder pads. Sure, he should have gotten rid of the ball to avoid a few sacks, but his game was mostly solid and he could have gotten help if Bernard Berrian would have dove for one ball down the sideline. It’s hard to tell what the thinking was on the final play of the game, either, when the Bears essentially tried a Hail Mary of sorts from the Giants’ 28-yard line.
“There were a couple opportunities to make plays that weren’t made for whatever reason and it definitely would have helped us in the game,’’ Grossman said. ``Offensively, we scored 16 points that’s not going to cut it, especially with the turnovers they gave us and field position. We should have done a lot better than we did and it’s just really frustrating right now.”
Berrian wasn’t about to let the whole thing hang on the defense, either, after the Bears failed to capitalize on red-zone chances.
“We couldn’t put the game away,’’ he said. “We had plenty of opportunities to do it. We just couldn’t get it done. We couldn’t make the plays we needed to make when we had the opportunities to do it. We’d get down, drive the ball and get down in position and kick field goals. The game is to score touchdowns.”
Filtering through the rest of the notebook
Cornerback Corey Graham suffered a sprained left ankle on punt coverage when he slipped and fell on the slick surface, but he returned to the game.
Cornerback Nathan Vasher said he’s hopeful to play Thursday at Washington. You can tell the focus on his return is getting to him a little bit. The good news is there were no setbacks after a full week of practice last week.
Players will review film of the game Monday before preparations begin for Washington. There will be a practice Tuesday and a walk-through Wednesday before they travel.
Spotted on the suite level during halftime ... actor Bill Murray.
Spotted taking a tour of the facility before the game, officials from the University of Illinois. Could an Illini game at Soldier Field be in the works?