Two bad: Bears botch both conversion attempts that would have tied game
BY PATRICK FINLEY Staff Reporter
It’s easy to criticize the Bears for running the ball Sunday in search of a two-point conversion. And it’s easy to question a pass, too.
The Bears did both — and failed each time.
“It’s easy to say that now, after the fact,” running back Matt Forte said. “If we would have thrown the ball and missed it, it would have been, ‘Should we have run it?’ ”
They had a rare chance in football: a second chance at a game-tying play with 40 seconds left in Sunday’s 21-19 loss to the Detroit Lions.
Both plays were planned Wednesday, when the team installed their short-yardage and conversion plays.
“Our coaching staff does a great job of walking us through the game before we get to the field,” Brandon Marshall said.
On the first try, though, the following eligible receivers were in the huddle: tight ends Martellus Bennett and Dante Rosario, tight end Tony Fiammetta, extra blocker Eben Britton and Forte.
Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, the team’s hottest offensive players who had totaled 253 yards in the game, were on the sideline.
The Bears at first lined up in a goal-line formation. They then shifted, emptying the backfield and putting Josh McCown in a shotgun, trying to catch the Lions scrambling.
The plan was to sprint McCown right, where he’d find Forte open in the flat against linebacker Rocky McIntosh.
Forte was well-covered by McIntosh, so McCown threw the ball incomplete toward Rosario.
But he Lions’ Willie Young leapt head-first at McCown, earning a roughing-the-passer penalty.
That gave the Bears another chance — this time from the 1-yard line — to tie the game.
Coach Marc Trestman called a run-pass option.
Lined up in the shotgun, McCown counted players in the defensive box and decided to hand the ball to Forte up the middle.
He was stuffed almost immediately by defensive tackle Nick Fairley, who beat center Roberto Garza.
“It shocked me that he was there,” Fairley said.
The Lions “gave us the run, and we just didn’t block it,” Trestman said. “We didn’t execute offensively the way we needed to execute, particularly in the running game. We just didn’t get it done.”
Forte had 33 yards on 17 attempts, his lowest average and total rushing yardage since 2011.
Still, Lions coach Jim Schwartz wasn’t surprised the Bears ran because they did something similar in the second quarter Monday against the Green Bay Packers, and Forte scored.
“Yeah, we were ready for it,” the Schwartz said. “But you still have to make the play.”
Forte said the Bears “just got stopped.”