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LB Lance Briggs back, but he was as ineffective as rest of defense

Updated: January 24, 2014 6:34AM



PHILADELPHIA — So much for the idea that Lance Briggs would make a difference.

If the Bears’ seven-time Pro Bowl linebacker made an impact in his first game back after missing nine weeks with a fractured left shoulder, it was imperceptible because the Bears’ beleaguered defense was swallowed whole by LeSean McCoy, Nick Foles and the Eagles’ offense in a 54-11 rout at Lincoln Financial Field.

The Bears had a chance to clinch the NFC North title after the Packers and Lions lost earlier in the day, but their defense collapsed without a fight. The Eagles had 514 total yards, including 289 rushing.

‘‘They kicked our [butt], that’s what happened,’’ safety Chris Conte said. ‘‘They started out fast, and we were on our heels early. Then it just got worse and worse and worse.’’

Briggs started for the first time since suffering the fractured shoulder Oct. 20 against the Redskins, and the rust showed. He was credited with one assisted tackle, his only mark on the stat sheet.

‘‘It was good to have him back in there,’’ defensive end Julius Peppers said. ‘‘It’s always good to have him back on the field. You can’t tell from the score, but it was a big difference having him out there again.’’

Briggs was even more invisible after the game than he was during it. He quickly picked up his clothes, dressed outside the Bears’ locker room and never showed up for postgame interviews.

Not exactly exemplary behavior from a team captain, but the Bears only care that Briggs leads on the field and in the locker room. And even after a disastrous and embarrassing defeat, they remained confident that Briggs can help repair the damage by the time they face the Packers next week.

‘‘He just brings that fire, that
energy, to the team,’’ cornerback Tim Jennings said. ‘‘Every guy feeds off of that. We know that he’s been out awhile. It’s going to be a slow start. But he was out there. He gave guys the fire. Guys got lined up, and that’s what we need.

‘‘He’s going to continue to get better out there . . . when he starts feeling more comfortable out there, and we’re going to rally around that.’’

The Bears’ defensive players were looking for anything they could find to rally around after their latest debacle.

‘‘It’s a game,’’ Peppers said. ‘‘It’s just a game. We’re going to get ready and come back next week. The same thing happened to them last week [the Eagles allowed 455 yards in a loss to the Vikings]. We’ve got a resilient group. We’re going to be fine. We’re going to bounce back from this.’’

The Bears can’t wait to move on.

‘‘First of all, you’ve got to give credit to them for coming out and bringing it to us,’’ Peppers said. ‘‘They came out and brought it to us. They just had it. Other than that, it was a poor performance all around on our part.

‘‘We’re not going to forget about it, but we’re going to put it to the side and get ready for the next game.’’

‘‘Philadelphia played a great game,’’ Jennings said. ‘‘They hit us first, and we couldn’t bounce back. We tried to figure it out and did what we could, but they kept coming and putting points on the board.’’

Email: mpotash@suntimes.com

Twitter: @MarkPotash



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