Chicago Bears first-year offensive lineman Kyle Long is usually patient with reporters in the Soldier Field locker room. He was today as well, until the second scrum of reporters impinged on his personal space.
"Give me a break guys, just move over a little to the other side of the locker," a visibly perturbed Long said. "I need to get on with my business."
It wasn't much of an outburst from a clearly frustrated rookie but it was obvious the 21-19 loss to the Detroit Lions, and the subsequent media attention, were both unwelcome.
"We were working hard out there today, trying to block their defensive line," Long said. "We knew it would be tough. We were also trying our best to protect Jay. He's tough, he's a battler, but he was just coming back from an injury. Obviously the more we could keep the Lions' defense away from him, the better it would be."
In terms of intensity, Long wasn't surprised at the aggressive demeanor of Detroit's defense, which held the Bears to 338 total yards and just 38 on the ground.
"We just kept battling with them. It was a fight for first in the division, so you expect going in that it will be pretty rough," said Long. "We were fighting for our good quarterbacks. Number 6 [Cutler) back there, number 12 [Josh McCown], they count on us to protect them. If we fall short, it's our responsibility for the results."
Long didn't notice the change from Cutler to McCown during the final two-minute drive.
"Honestly, I was so focused on what was in front of me, I didn't really see that Jay had gone out and Josh and come in," Long said. "It didn't really disrupt the tempo of what we were doing at all. Both quarterbacks have similar styles, similar rhythms in a play. They both bring different things to the table, but their overall tempos are pretty much the same. There was no disruption to our game at all."
Cutler started the contest well but was obviously hampered by the groin injury as the game wore on, which ultimately led to McCown taking over in the final minutes.
"Jay played well all game," said Long. "Jay was Jay. I didn't see any change, any letdown at all. I'm not quite sure why Josh was brought in at the end. I don't know what might have happened but I don't believe that it was due to anything Jay wasn't able to handle. They're both fighters who want to be in there all of the time."
Long called the failed two-point play with less than a minute to play "heartbreaking."
"It was well drawn and it should have worked," he said. "We all knew that we had that one shot and we were determined to make it work."
"Then it started all over again," Long said. "A second opportunity like that is really a gift. We knew what we'd be doing because we run these plays all of the time in practice. The big receivers were out there but the ball was handed off to Forte. Unfortunately the Lions defense saw that and stopped it. Game over for Chicago."
According to Long, the lack of rushing yards was due to "mental mistakes."
"I think we got something like 38 yards and I put that me," Long said. "We all made mental mistakes but I did in particular. I wasn't happy with some of the moves I made. If I had it to do over again, I'd be changing quite a few of my moves. It's tough to gain yards when you leave a linebacker running free. That falls on my shoulders a few times."
Going forward, Long sees considerable effort during this week's practice sessions.
"We can do better, I know it. I certainly can improve and I intend to," he said. "Our job is to protect our quarterback. We're fortunate to have two such accomplished guys out there calling signals for us. Our job is to ensure their safety on the field."
Long also understands the importance of maintaining confidence on and off the field.
"After a day like today you've got to keep your head up. There's a lot of football ahead for us this season. We get to be here at home again next weekend. We'll be at Halas Hall early looking at film and analyzing our next opponent. I think we're all eager to get back out there and do our jobs."
Beth Gorr has been covering the Bears for the last 12 years and is the author of Bear Memories: The Chicago-Green Bay Rivalry. She is currently working on a second book about early Bears history.