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Michael Bush’s struggles weighing Bears down around goal line

Updated: December 27, 2013 6:23AM

It was more Pyrrhic victory than progress.

The Bears’ fourth-quarter touchdown Sunday came an agonizing eight plays
after they reached the Rams’ 1-yard line. It took 2:46 to run those eight plays, costing the Bears, in coach Marc Trestman’s estimation, an entire other possession in their scramble to try to catch the Rams.

‘‘The bottom line is, we got in,’’ Trestman said Monday at Halas Hall, sorting through the 42-21 loss. ‘‘We just took, in our opinion, too long to do it.’’

The Bears scored touchdowns on three of their four trips to the red zone —
Michael Bush was stuffed on fourth-and-goal from the 1 in the third quarter — but the statistics paint a far less rosy picture.

The Bears ran 17 plays inside the Rams’ 20-yard line. Five completed passes yielded two touchdowns and 32 yards. Rams penalties
accounted for three more first downs. But the Bears’ seven red-zone rushes gained a total of two yards.

‘‘The fact of the matter is, it was hard to run the football,’’ Trestman said. ‘‘The noise was a part of it. Could we have had [a play-]action pass? We really didn’t have one up that we thought would fit the defense.’’

The Bears’ second-longest run in the red zone was a three-yard scramble by quarterback Josh McCown. That set up Bush’s rushing attempt from the 1, which lost four yards.

Amazingly, Bush — the Bears’ goal-line running back — has gained exactly zero yards on 11 carries in his last three games.

‘‘There’s a lot more
involved,’’ Trestman said of Bush, who finally punched in a one-yard run in the fourth quarter. ‘‘There’s blocking, there’s angles, there’s double teams, there’s a lot involved. I think when we’re all working together, Michael Bush is a very physical — and can be a dynamic — player.’’

Neither adjective accurately describes Bush lately.

The Bears have reached the end zone on 57.14 percent of their trips to the red zone this season, 10th-best in the league. By the time they found the end zone in the fourth quarter, the damage had been done.

‘‘Really, goal line doesn’t come down to the plays drawn up,’’ tight end Martellus Bennett said. ‘‘It comes down to guys just having [guts]. . . . It’s just smashmouth football.

‘‘It’s not really about the way it’s diagrammed or anything like that. It’s about
everybody just digging in and doing what you can.’’

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