Bears’ offense could get boost it needs — from Lions’ defense
BY SEAN JENSEN firstname.lastname@example.org December 24, 2012 6:40PM
Matt Forte was part of a ground game that gained 171 yards in the Week 7 win over the Lions. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
Updated: January 26, 2013 6:22AM
After another inconsistent performance in the Bears’ 28-13 victory Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals, coach Lovie Smith immediately tempered what he had hoped for from his inconsistent offense.
“We didn’t expect to come in here and score 50 points and throw for 400 yards against them,” Smith said of the Cardinals’ defense Sunday.
No team has done the latter this season against the Cardinals’ talented pass defense, but the Seattle Seahawks did score 58 against the Cards on Dec. 9.
But like the Bears, the Seahawks scored two return touchdowns. The difference in the final scores was the production of the offenses. Since contributing to a 51-20 beatdown of the Tennessee Titans, the Bears’ offense has gone into hibernation, struggling with pass protection, passing, catching, penalties and missed assignments.
The Seahawks hardly were perfect offensively in a 58-0 shutout. They punted twice after forcing a turnover, kicked three field goals and had one touchdown pass. But they rolled up 493 yards, including 284 on the ground. Running back Marshawn Lynch led the way with 128 rushing yards and three touchdowns.
The Bears had only three notable drives Sunday (72, 80 and 46 yards), going three-and-out four times. Jay Cutler didn’t complete a pass until his seventh attempt, which came early in the second quarter.
“I missed a lot of passes; it wasn’t pretty,” Cutler said. “We had to make some plays, and I thought the offensive line did a great job.
“Wish we had a few back, but we got the win.”
Now the Bears need another, and they couldn’t hope for a more favorable matchup.
Like the Cardinals, the Lions (4-11) have struggled against teams still in the playoff picture. Since Week 8, the Lions have lost six games in a row to such teams, and they’ve lost eight of the last nine meetings against the Bears.
During the Lions’ current seven-game losing streak, they’ve given up an average of 31.8 points per game. But the onus will be on the Bears’ offense because the Lions have scored on some solid teams. They scored 40 points in two losses to the Green Bay Packers and 31 points against the Houston Texans.
In their six losses to playoff-contending teams, the Lions’ average margin of defeat is 6.5 points.
“We realize where we are in the playoff picture, and as much as anything we wanted to be relevant this week in the playoff picture, and we are,” Smith said Monday. “We know we need help, but we have to earn the help.
“That’s by taking care of business and getting a win against Detroit.”
That’s hardly a given, despite the Bears’ recent success in the series. On Oct. 22 at Soldier Field, the Bears eked out a 13-7 victory. They had four takeaways and pounded the Lions for 171 rushing yards. But Cutler completed just 16 of 31 passes for 150 yards with a seven-yard touchdown to Brandon Marshall in the first quarter.
In the second half, the Bears mustered only a field goal.
Interestingly, the Lions got blasted by the Cardinals 38-10 two weeks ago at University of Phoenix Stadium. Matthew Stafford was intercepted three times, with two of those returned for touchdowns. The Cardinals didn’t do much offensively, but Beanie Wells ran for three touchdowns.
On Saturday, the Falcons handled the Lions 31-18.
In Arizona, Marshall was disappointed with his performance against the Cardinals.
“For me, I left too many opportunities out there,” he said. “When you get an opportunity to go against one-on-one coverage, for the most part, you got to capitalize.
“I’ll come back next week and make plays.”
The Bears’ season depends on it.