Bears players quick to take blame for their boneheaded mistakes
By neil hayes and sean jensen firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com September 25, 2011 10:30PM
Chicago's Johnny Knox (right) evades Green Bay's Tim Masthay (left) to return a punt for a touchdown in the fourth quarter at Soldier Field Sunday, Sept. 25, 2011, in Chicago. The play was negated by holding on the Bears during the return and the Bears went on to lose 27-17. | Matthew Grotto~Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 11, 2011 2:02PM
Devin Hester acted as if he was going to field Tim Masthay’s punt. Bears blockers helped sell the deception by rushing in front of Hester to block as he continued to look toward the heavens and circle under the phantom punt. It was all very convincing, and the Packers’ coverage team sensibly converged on the NFL’s all-time leader for combined kick-return touchdowns.
The only problem was, the ball had actually been kicked to Johnny Knox, who fielded the ball over his shoulder on the opposite side of the field before heading up a right sideline so devoid of traffic a 747 could’ve landed. Winston Venable blocked Masthay to complete the perfectly executed 89-yard punt return for a touchdown in the final minute.
Corey Graham was penalized for holding, which put an exclamation point on a mistake-filled day for the Bears.
“I’ve got to make a smarter decision,” Graham said. “It was a great call by us, and it was unfortunate to have it called back in that situation.”
Although the play was perfectly conceived, it will be difficult to fool future opponents now that it’s on tape.
“It worked for us,” Knox said. “But unfortunately, it was a bad call. Corey didn’t even touch him. That’s a play we wish we could have back.”
The Bears may have plenty of problems, but accountability isn’t one of them.
Several players owned up to poor play or costly mistakes in a 27-17 loss to the Packers Sunday.
Graham, for his part, called his penalty at the end of the game a “stupid mental lapse.”
Then Knox lamented a third-quarter, third-down drop that would have gained at least 20 yards.
“Plain and simple: unacceptable,” he said. “I got to catch that. As a receiver, that’s my job. I should have caught it. Simple as that.”
Meanwhile, receiver Roy Williams was asked about the opening interception.
“I was running toward the sideline, and it was kind of thrown inside. So I was just trying to get to him and trying to knock it down,” Williams said.
But Williams took full ownership of a pass near the goal line, when he was hit by a defender after the ball hit his hands.
“It was a good ball,” Williams said. “I dropped that ball. It was a good play by him.
“NFL receiver, you got to catch that ball. That’s on me. That one is on me.”
The Bears also had an astounding 10 penalties, including five on offense. Hester was flagged for two, including a 15-yard unnecessary roughness in the fourth quarter. On the play, he exchanged blows with cornerback Sam Shields, who Hester insisted instigated it all.
“He hit me at least two times before I reacted,” Hester said. “We were running down the field, and he shoved me. Then I stopped. The play was over. Then he shoved me again.”
After picking up two false starts in New Orleans, veteran offensive lineman Frank Omiyale was flagged for two more.
“That’s just me. I got to make sure I’m paying more attention to the cadence and make sure I get the communication down before. That’s all me,” Omiyale said. “I’m definitely going to get that fixed because that’s not something I want hanging over my head.”
That was the Bears’ lowest rushing total (13 yards) since at least 1960.