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Missed opportunities haunt Bears in heartbreaking loss

Bears receiver BrandMarshall gains extryardage after catching pass first quarter Chicago Bears-Seattle Seahawks NFL game Sunday December 2 2012 Soldier

Bears receiver Brandon Marshall gains extra yardage after catching a pass in the first quarter of the Chicago Bears-Seattle Seahawks NFL game Sunday December 2, 2012 at Soldier Field. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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You can’t fault Brandon Marshall for believing that the Bears had all the momentum and that a victory was in their grasp in overtime.

Marshall had just caught a 56-yard bomb from Jay Cutler with less than 20 seconds left in regulation to set up Robbie Gould’s game-tying field goal as time expired.

“Yes, that’s what I thought, exactly what I thought,” Marshall said when asked if he felt the Bears were going to win.

But Marshall and Cutler never left the sideline to make that happen as rookie quarterback Russell Wilson directed a game-winning touchdown drive on the Seattle Seahawks’ first possession in overtime for a 23-17 victory Sunday at Soldier Field.

Cutler and Marshall were at their best in many ways against the Sea­hawks. Their late 56-yard connection — with Cutler’s strong arm and ability to sidestep would-be tacklers and Marshall’s ability to get open and leap higher than defenders — capped their strong performances.

But afterward, the Bears’ dynamic duo was left lamenting the offense’s missed opportunities just as members of the Bears’ defense were lamenting theirs.

“Offensively, we should have done a better job and not put ourselves in that position,” Cutler said.

Cutler completed 17 of 26 passes for 233 yards, two touchdowns and a 119.6 passer rating. His elusiveness extended plays and turned into 27 yards rushing on four carries.

Marshall was targeted 14 times, catching 10 passes for 165 yards. It was the most yards a receiver has had this season against the Seahawks’ secondary, which relies on the press coverage of cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner.

It was a game Marshall said he took personally.

“Any time a team goes one-on-one, I take it really personal,” Marshall said. “I take it as a sign of disrespect.”

Cutler and Marshall had a handful of missed chances to address when they stepped to the podium.

Coach Lovie Smith passed up a field goal early in the second quarter that would have given the Bears a 10-0 lead in favor of going for it on fourth-and-inches at the Seattle 15. But running back Michael Bush was stopped for no gain.

“I’m not going to second-guess anything,” Cutler said.

“I liked the call,” Marshall said.

On the Bears’ next possession, receiver Earl Bennett, who was flipped into the end zone on the Bears’ first touchdown, dropped a potential 62-yard touchdown. Cutler wasn’t happy with his throw to Bennett, who was later ruled out with a concussion.

“I spun him around a little bit, and it was a tough catch,” said Cutler, who also pointed to his fumble in the fourth quarter. “He is going to say that he should have had it. I don’t know if he was feeling the effects of that hit down by the goal line or not. It’s hard to tell. I won’t shy away from him, I know that.”

Cutler and Marshall succeeded because their patchwork offensive line fared well against the Seahawks. But they also were unhappy. Running back Matt Forte (21 carries, 66 yards) never truly got going on the ground.

“We lost,” right tackle Jonathan Scott said. “We can’t be happy about that. This is a team effort, and the team objective is to win.”



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