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Bears drown in historic sea of flags

Jaron Brown scored the Cardinals' first offensive touchdown after a 42-yard Kyle Fuller penalty. (AP)

If there were a magic formula, the Bears would have written it down. If there were a pill, they would have taken it.

After tying a 71-year-old franchise record with 170 penalty yards Sunday against the Cardinals, they’d try anything.

“You go out and you work on it,” right tackle Kyle Long said. “It’s not like they’re just out there just handing out ADD medication for us. We have to talk. We have to communicate. We have to practice with a purpose.”

Left tackle Jermon Bushrod said that “what killed us” — in addition to the Cardinals, in a 48-23 loss at Soldier Field — “was self-inflicted wounds.”

The offenders were varied, from tight end Zach Miller’s offensive pass interference to cornerback Kyle Fuller’s defensive pass interference call that, despite his protests of an obvious flag, cost the Bears 42 yards and contributed to the Cardinals’ first offensive touchdown. Alan Ball’s infraction cost the team 38 yards and led to the second offensive score.

Share Events on The CubeThose 80 yards contributed to the record-tying total, which matched the Bears’ Nov. 26, 1944, game in Philadelphia. Their 14 flags Sunday didn’t come close to matching the record, set that same day, of 22.

“That’s just crazy,” tight end Martellus Bennett said. “Defensive penalties, offensive penalties, special teams penalties. Just penalties everywhere.

“So it’s unacceptable. Guys gotta be more disciplined. That’s something you can control — jumping offsides and holding, that’s something you have control of.”

Bushrod had two false starts and a holding call. Guard Vladimir Ducasse had one of each.

Center Will Montgomery had a false start — and he’s the one with his hand on the ball.

“From holding to false starts, we can’t have a lot of that,” Bennett said. “Discipline, just being where we need to be, whether it’s route, blocking. We’re trying to change up the cadence because they’re getting off the ball a lot.”

Coach John Fox said the statistics — the Bears had 335 net yards, the Cardinals 300 — didn’t speak to the final score. The penalties did.

“I think it’s something we need to improve, obviously,” he said.

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Email: pfinley@suntimes.com