CINCINNATI--Where do you start after a game like this?
The New York papers have been hammering the Brooke Hundley-n-Steve Phillips affair all week ... and this debacle was that kind of ugly. This was the worst Bears' game I've witnessed in nine seasons, eclipsing the 49-7 season-opening loss at San Francisco ijn 2003 because there were no expectations for that team.
"I had forgot about the ('03 opener in San Francisco), I thought that was the only time it had happened,'' tight end Desmond Clark said.
Well, Dez, I apologize for bringing it back in your memory.
"This is a far better team than that team back in '03,'' he said. "This is probably even more embarrassing because as much talent as we have on this team, we shouldn't lose like this."
The Bears were bad all the way around in today's stunning 45-10 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. They were awful on defense, never got started on offense and couldn't make any kind of difference whatsoever on special teams. They were outplayed, unprepared and run over.
One person compared it to the 37-3 loss the Bears suffered at Green Bay last November but that's apples to oranges. The offense played with quarterback Kyle Orton coming off a serious ankle injury. The defense had the wrong gameplan--it planned to stop Aaron Rodgers and Ryan Grant overran the Bears.
Expectations are different for this Bears' team. Jay Cutler is at quarterback and the offense is supposed to be able to keep them in games. The expectations are this is a playoff team. Instead, the Bears are 3-3 and they've lost two straight. They have the gift of all gifts with the Cleveland Browns coming to Soldier Field next week. The only thing easier might be if the league moved up the date with the St. Louis Rams. I watched the very end of the Arizona-New York Giants game from the hotel tonight, and all of a sudden that visit from the Cardinals on Nov. 8 looks like one tough matchup. Go ahead and circle that ballgame as the one that might decide whether or not the Bears do anything this season.
"[Fans] don't have to adjust their expectations,'' Cutler said. "Everyone in the NFL wants to win the Super Bowl. We have those expectations. We still think we have a good football team, and we still think we can make a run.''
Here are 10 random thoughts/nuggets coming out of this horror show:
1. Chad Ochocinco has the play to back up his formidable Twitter account. That was a clinic he displayed vs. Charles Tillman, who had played so well in the previous six weeks vs. Roddy White and Calvin Johnson. Ochocinco is a sideshow like no other in the NFL, but he runs terrific routes and he makes plays. For all the buildup he gave his samba tribute to Ronaldinho, I was disappointed. Could he have toned down the celebration out of respect for the Bears? That's my only guess.
2. Speaking of Ochocinco, did you catch linebacker Lance Briggs trying to cover him across the middle of the field on that one play early in the second quarter that went for a 14-yard gain? Hey, Briggs has terrific lateral range and covers backs and tight ends well, but Ochocinco? No mas.
3. Cedric Benson's start to the season isn't a fluke. He ran hard for a career-high 189 yards and he had 200 on his mind, why else did he keep subbing back into the game as the final minutes ticked off the clock? Here's what I can't understand--does anyone believe the Bears when they say they knew he was this talented back, this guy that has proven he can be a workhorse back in the NFL?
"I saw the same thing I saw when he was with us,'' offensive coordinator Ron Turner said. "He's a good football player that runs hard.''
Come on. If the Bears believed this was who Benson was, they would have waited for the wheels of justice to turn in Texas, for Benson to be acquitted on his two booze-related arrests. The fact is the Bears believed strongly that Benson was not guilty in the Lake Travis arrest. Neither case even went to trial. They dumped Benson after spending $13.8 million on him because they didn't believe he was a top running back. Period.
UPDATED: Rotowire reports that Benson was carrying the ball at the end of the game because Bernard Scott and Jeremi Johnson both suffered minor injuries.
4. Benson certainly ruffled some feathers last week when he accused the Bears of blackballing him after he was sent to the discard pile by them--he sat out nearly four months before the Bengals threw him a life line--but he was on his best behavior today. Benson looked for Lovie Smith at midfield to shake his hand and thank him for the opportunity with the Bears afterward but couldn't find him.
"This was a business trip,'' Smith said. "Not a family reunion.''
It was bad business for the Bears.
5. Those fumbled snaps by Cutler were low from center Olin Kreutz but not so low that they should not have been cleanly handled.
6. Veteran cornerback Nathan Vasher got a little work at safety during the game, a little tip of the cap from Smith perhaps after his pick the week before at Atlanta. Sadly, no one on that defense can say they played well.
7. Why wasn't Caleb Hanie inserted at the start of the fourth quarter when the Bears trailed 45-3. Seriously? What was the point of Cutler continuing at that point? Instead, we saw two Hanie passes and a handoff by him to Garrett Wolfe in the closing moments. Not enough.
8. Did I miss something or was Tank Johnson a nonfactor in the game? I'm not sure why he's been built up to have been some terrific interior lineman for the Bears when he was with them. Johnson was a role player when he was with the Bears, a role player with a loud personality that made him popular with teammates. He was a con man at heart too. He's in a better scheme for him with the Bengals than he was in Dallas, and he could launch a long, successful career, but he was never a great player for the Bears.
9. Any time the pass rush wants to re-emerge is fine. The Bears haven't gotten a sack since Adewale Ogunleye knocked Matthew Stafford out with a right knee injury during the fourth quarter on Oct. 4. That was also the last time the Bears won.
10. Tillman was the one who had a tough time with Ochocinco, but Zack Bowman had a rough go of it again. Chris Henry's nine-yard touchdown catch came when Bowman got run inside before completely losing the wide receiver. The education process continues. He's learning on the job and should improve.
10 b. Check out the upcoming schedule:
Nov. 1 Cleveland
Nov. 8 Arizona
Nov. 12 at San Francisco
Nov. 22 Philadelphia
Nov. 29 at Minnesota
That's a tough road before they get a date with the St. Louis Rams on Dec. 6. What kind of record do you see there? The Bears have to win three of them and maybe four to be in good position for the final month. Yes, the Rams could still be winless come Dec. 6. They're certifiably bad.
10 c. Keep an eye on this Tommie Harris situation. Something isn't right.
10 d. Harris wouldn't have made a world of difference, not the way he has been playing lately, but the tackle rotation of Anthony Adams, Marcus Harrison and Israel Idonije was blown off the ball.
10 e. To the readers that think Lovie Smith's job could be in jeopardy following this season, no way. It's not going to happen. Not at all.
10 f. Devin Hester had career highs--eight receptions for 101 yards. That's nice to see but it's a sign of what happens when a team gives up the underneath stuff with a five- and six-touchdown lead. And I'll end there, at 10 f, because the Bears earned an F today.