Bears running back Matt Forte, getting a handoff from Jay Cutler, got off to a good start but faded after that. | Thomas Delany Jr.~Sun-Times Media
It was the Bears’ season in a nutshell.
On first-and-goal from the Packers’ 5-yard line with the Bears trailing 21-7 in the third quarter, Matt Forte had no room to run but still bulled his way to the goal line for a four-yard gain.
But on second-and-goal from the 1, with Michael Bush apparently unavailable because of an injury, the goal line turned into a brick wall. Forte was stopped for no gain on back-to-back plays. Jay Cutler’s fourth-down touchdown pass to Alshon Jeffery was nullified by an offensive-pass-interference penalty, and the Bears settled for Olindo Mare’s 34-yard field goal that cut the Packers’ lead to 21-10. The Bears needed more.
‘‘On the goal line, the offensive line has got to get movement,’’ Forte said. ‘‘I look for a hole and try to hit it. There are going to be unblocked players. My deal is, I have to slam it up in there. That’s what I was doing. You have to give [the Packers] credit. They played tough defense on the goal line.’’
It was that kind of day for Forte and the Bears. Forte rushed for 37 yards on his first five carries (7.4 yards per carry) and 32 on 15 carries (2.1 average) after that.
‘‘We played good football until we shot ourselves in the foot with stupid penalties and turnovers,’’ Forte said. ‘‘No team can win. No team can play good offense and shoot themselves in the foot and expect to score 20 or 30 points in a game.’’
Every little mistake cuts deep when you’re in the rut the Bears are in. They were on the move on the game’s opening possession, with an advantageous second-and-one situation at the Packers’ 31-yard line. But Forte was stopped for no gain, and center Roberto Garza was called for a false start. After an incomplete pass on third-and-six, the Bears punted. It was the Bears’ 24th false start of the season.
‘‘I just flinched — it was a rookie mistake,’’ said Garza, who has started 154 games in the NFL. ‘‘You can’t make those mistakes in crucial situations. You have to be able to sit there and come off on the ball.’’
Banana in tailpipe
With a 21-10 lead with 8:11 left and Aaron Rodgers at the controls of an offense that had produced 342 yards on its previous 49 plays, the Packers tried a trick play on a punt return, with Randall Cobb lateraling across the field to Jeremy Ross.
But the Bears, who were snookered by the Packers on a fake field goal in Week 2, were ready for it. Ross muffed the lateral under pressure, and Anthony Walters recovered at the Packers’ 16.
Blake Costanzo said Eric Weems sniffed it out and alerted the rest of the team.
‘‘They had a guy out there [Ross] who usually doesn’t line up out there,’’ Costanzo said. ‘‘So we were alerted to it even before that punt that something was up. Eric, Anthony and everyone made a great play.’’
McCarthy: My bad
Packers coach Mike McCarthy said he tried the trick play because ‘‘[Rodgers] had come off with an ankle [injury]. We had a couple of injuries on the sideline. I thought the potential for the big play was there.
‘‘In the end, it’s not a very good decision. I wish I had that back.’’