THE MORNING AFTER: Nothing is as easy as it appears
DETROIT – What should have been a critical interception wasn’t.
What should have been time saved was wasted.
What should have been a great shot at a third-straight win didn’t happen.
Nothing is ever as easy as it appears. Not for this Bears team. Certainly not in 2015.
There was that pass towards the end of the first half that appeared to be a significant shift in momentum for the Bears heading into the break. Golden Tate initially had a touchdown catch but a heads up Kyle Fuller plucked the ball in the air and into the opportunistic hands of rookie Jonathan Anderson.
A turnover, or so it seemed. Never is it that easy.
Soon a replay was held and the call of a turnover was reversed. Didn’t seem like that could happen considering the past need for possession of the ball all the way to the ground (See Calvin Johnson in 2010 vs Bears or Dez Bryant vs Packers in last years’ playoffs). But this was something different.
Here’s the explanation of referee Walt Coleman to a pool reporter at Ford Field when asked about the call being reversed: “: “The receiver gained possession of the ball with two feet down, and he was standing upright. He wasn’t going to the ground, he was standing upright. Two feet down. Possession of the ball. Takes it one more step, and then the ball was stripped out.
“Well in the endzone, once you have the completed catch, it’s a touchdown. The play is over. He was standing upright. It wasn’t like he was going to the ground where he would have had to have held onto the ball. But he was standing upright. Completed the catch with the ball in the endzone –that makes it a touchdown.”
Got that. Some might while others don’t. Not so easy, huh?
Neither is the using of timeouts when it seems like it would be logical. After the two-minute warning Lions quarterback Matt Stafford hit Theo Reddick for a 26-yard gain to the Bears six-yard line. Instead of taking a timeout to keep time from bleeding off the clock, it was allowed to tick down to 1:17 seconds.
That’s when Reddick ran once again for two yards and finally one of the Bears’ timeouts was used when Jeremiah Ratliff was injured. John Fox was forced to use that with 49 seconds to go in the game as nearly a minute of valuable time ticked off the clock.
“It worked out that we have enough time to go down and tie the game, so it really doesn’t matter,” said Fox when asked why he didn’t burn his timeouts.
That’s true. It wasn’t easy getting to that conclusion. The Bears allowed ten seconds to be taken off the clock when Stafford was called for intentional grounding and allowed a touchdown pass from the quarterback to Johnson to give Detroit the lead.
But 25 seconds was enough to get the Bears in range to tie the game at the end of regulation-reaching all the way down to the Detroit 11-yard line with four seconds left. Imagine if there had been 14 seconds had the Bears declined the ten second runoff on the intentional grounding penalty which Fox said the team could have elected to do.
“I think it was 10 seconds that they backed it up and, I guess in hindsight, which we all get to do, we wish we probably would’ve had 10 more seconds,” said Fox.
Many would say that’s an easy decision to make but those naysayers could have said the same thing about Sunday in general. For once this season the Bears had built some momentum after back-to-back fourth quarter come from behind wins over the Raiders and the Chiefs.
Jay Cutler was playing confident football and injured players were beginning to creep back into the lineup. In their way of a .500 record before the bye week were the winless Lions who were embarrassed on their home field by the Cardinals the week before.
Granted the same happened to the Bears earlier in the season. But this was a more confident group that was seeming to find its stride as they faced a Detroit team going in the opposite direction.
But it wasn’t that easy. While able to drive down the field the Bears converted just 3-of-8 drives inside the redzone into touchdowns. Problems in that area against a struggling Lions’ defense kept them from pulling away even when Detroit gave the ball way twice on special teams in the second half.
There was an interception that looked like an interception that wasn’t. There were timeouts that could have saved time but didn’t. It was a seemingly easy third victory to get that disappeared when Matt Prater knocked in an easy 27-yard field goal in overtime to give the Lions a win.
“Yeah, a bunch of missed opportunities. The game was basically given to us and we had a lot of opportunities to win that game,” said running back Matt Forte, who scored the game-winning touchdown against the Chiefs in what appeared to be the second of a three-straight victories.
But it’s never that easy. Not in 2015. Not with this team that heads into the bye week with a few difficult questions to address.