Missed touchdowns prove costly for Bears
BY MARK POTASH Staff Reporter November 10, 2013 6:48PM
Updated: January 10, 2014 2:20AM
As the Soldier Field crowd was celebrating Alshon Jeffery’s reaching, twisting, falling-to-the-ground catch for a 14-yard touchdown that temporarily gave the Bears the lead over the Detroit Lions in the fourth quarter Sunday, Jeffery’s own celebration was a little more subdued.
‘‘When I came to the sideline, I told them, ‘I don’t know about that one. I don’t know if I caught [it],’ ’’ Jeffery said.
Sure enough, a magnificent play by the second-year wide receiver was overturned upon review, as replays indicated that while he maintained possession of the ball, he still lost control of it as he fell to the ground. The Bears kicked a field goal to cut the Lions lead to 14-13 with 9:17 left — losing four points that could have made the difference in a 21-19 loss to the Lions at Soldier Field.
‘‘I thought I had it, but at the end, I knew I had bobbled it,’’ said Jeffery, who had nine receptions for 114 yards, including five catches for third-down conversions.
‘‘Sometimes you win, sometimes you don’t.’’
It was that kind of day for the Bears, who squandered one opportunity after another to avoid the two-point conversion predicament in the final seconds that ultimately cost them a chance to send the game into overtime. If the Bears fall short of the playoffs, regardless of how it happens, they will lament a home game they should have won.
‘‘We beat ourselves,’’ Jeffery said. ‘‘We had a lot of miscues. We beat ourselves.’’
Jeffery’s inability to hold on to a difficult catch was the least of the failures that doomed the Bears. Three plays before Jeffery’s catch that wasn’t, the Bears lost another touchdown when Matt Forte’s nine-yard scoring run was nullified by a holding penalty on guard Matt Slauson.
Slauson said that after talking to the official, he agreed with the call.
‘‘I get what he saw,’’ Slauson said. ‘‘I’m going upfield, and if the linebacker outleverages me, I use a club/back-door move to get him going up field. When I clubbed and swung around, [the official] said I didn’t pull my hand off quickly enough. I agree with him there.’’
Slauson’s play typified the Bears’ frustration. He thought he was doing the right thing, and it ended up wrong.
‘‘The ref said it was a great move up until I didn’t remove my hand,’’ Slauson said.
The Bears lost another chance for a touchdown in the third quarter when Jeffery couldn’t grab a 14-yard pass from quarterback Jay Cutler at the goal line with the Bears trailing 14-7. They settled for Robbie Gould’s field goal to cut the Lions lead to 14-10.
‘‘It wasn’t difficult. I took my eye off it,’’ Jeffery said. ‘‘I’ve just got to lock the ball in.’’
The Bears lost yet another chance for a touchdown — and came up empty — at the end of the first half when Cutler’s pass on second-and-goal from the Lions’ 4-yard line was deflected by Ndamukong Suh and intercepted in the end zone by DeAndre Levy.
‘‘Watch the film — it is what it is,’’ Cutler said. ‘‘It’s single-high coverage. We had a great window, and it got tipped. You can be the judge.’’
The Bears’ maligned defense did a fine job but still rued its own missed opportunities — including a sure interception by Major Wright in the first half that the veteran safety bobbled into an incomplete pass.
‘‘I just took my eyes off the ball and didn’t focus on the ball,’’ Wright said. ‘‘When your plays come to you, you have to make them. I didn’t make my play.’’