The Bears’ offense and defense were both pointing fingers after a 25-20 loss to the Oakland Raiders on Sunday — at themselves.
”We should have won that football game based on the way our offense played,” middle linebacker Brian Urlacher said after the Bears dropped to 7-4. ”We didn’t play well enough on defense. We gave up too many big plays, didn’t get enough takeaways. That’s why we didn’t win.”
Not so, said running back Matt Forte.
”We have to help out our defense. They were playing lights out,” Forte said. ”If we gave them more help we could have won this game.”
There was plenty of blame to go around as the Bears dropped a winnable road game. The offense was clearly the bigger culprit, but had a built-in excuse with Caleb Hanie making is first NFL start.
The Bears had a season-high 401 yards of total offense. But Hanie gave back 99 of those with three interceptions. Kamerion Wimbley’s 73-yard interception return late in the second quarter was at least a six-point swing.
The Bears had a chance to take a 12-9 or 16-9 lead at halftime. Instead, the Raiders led 12-7 when Sebastian Janikowski kicked a 19-yard field goal just before halftime.
The defense gave the Bears a chance by holding the Raiders to six field goals that allowed the Bears to creep within 18-13 with 7:17 to play. But the defense also broke down at inopportune times.
Immediately after the Bears overcame two Hanie interceptions to take a 7-6 lead on Hanie’s 29-yard touchdown pass to Johnny Knox with 2:56 left in the first half, the Raiders regained the momentum when fullback Marcel Reese turned a screen pass into a 47-yard gain to the Bears 33-yard line. The defense stiffened from there and forced the Raiders to settle for Janikowski’s 42-yard field goal of ra 9-7 lead.
And after bending all day, the defense finally broke in the fourth quarter. After Robbie Gould’s 53-yard field goal cut the Raiders’ lead to 18-13 with 7:17 to play, the Raiders faced a third-and-four from midfield. But Carson Palmer — who was 19-of-35 for 250 yards, no touchdowns and one interception and a 65.2 passer rating to that point –dropped back and burned Bears cornerback Tim Jennings with a 47-yard pass to Louis Murphy down the right sideline. That gave the Raiders a first-and-goal at the Bears 3. Michael Bush scored on the next play to give the Raiders a 25-13 lead with 3:47 left.
So Urlacher was not buying the argument that the offense put the Bears in a big hole with the three interceptions.
”What was it 7-6?,” he said. ”Even after all that we were still in the game. Even at the end of the game they got the ball with five-and-a-half minutes and we had a chance to sep them and we gave up a touchdown. It’s not good defense.”
Despite the three interceptions, the Bears seemed genuinely encouraged by Hanie’s performance. Hanie finished 18-of-36 for 254 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions, a 56.9 rating. Cutler had a 60.2 rating against the Buccaneers in London and he’s been doing this for six seasons.
”I thought he did a good job,” Urlacher said. ”He had a couple of picks — that’s going to happen. The tipped ball was a nice play by them. He’ll get better. I don’t think he did a bad job today. He kept us in the game. And if we play better defense, we win the game.”