Chicago Bears outside linebacker Jared Allen has no interest in moral victories.
“I take no comfort in the fact that we played well at times,” Allen said following the 31-23 Week 1 loss to the Green Bay Packers. “In the NFL it's all about your numbers. That’s all that really matters in these situations. At this point in the season after this game we are 0-1. I’d only take satisfaction in our play if we were 1-0."
The Bears led 13-10 at halftime but could not take advantage of a number of opportunities in the second half, and were outscored 21-10 in the final two stanzas.
“I put that all on us on defense," said Allen. "Our offense was moving down the field quite well and was effective against Green Bay’s defense. It's our fault as a defense not to have given them that opportunity to be out there making more plays. It's our job and we didn’t do it well enough.”
The Bears played better than expected in the regular-season opener and had more total yards than the Packers (402 to 322), more first downs (25 to 21) and won the time of possession battle 31:52 to 28:08.
“OK that’s all well and good,” Allen said, “but when it counted we let Green Bay get some extended on-field time and some long runbacks. It's all about ball control. They’d be 3rd and 7, 3rd and 8 then get the first down. That’s on us. We’ve got to make a play and get them off the field. You just can’t let your opponent gain momentum like that. It's something we’ll be working on this upcoming week.”
Chicago's defense played a physical, aggressive game, which to the players means very little when you lose the battle on the scoreboard.
“This is professional football. That’s what we’re supposed to do: play fast, play hard, play well," said Allen. "I’m looking for something beyond that that results in a win. The positive that I see is that there was some good to build on. That’s our focus now. We’ll be going over the film tomorrow and see what’s there, correct the bad, improve the good and go forward into next week’s game.”
While the Bears limited Packers QB Aaron Rodgers to just 189 yards passing, they failed to pick up a sack or create a turnover, which at the end of the day was the difference in the game.
“When the opponent’s offense is heading down the field, you have to step up, step in and get the ball. That’s pretty basic," Allen said. "We didn’t do that so that is something else we need to work on. This was a big game and we wanted to make a statement. It was a hard-fought game and we were doing well. Look, we were up by three at the half, but then we let that slip away. Green Bay had a long drive right after the half and momentum shifted. I’m not proud of that at all.”
On the other side of the ball, Kyle Long seemed to take some solace in the effort on offense.
“We played our butts off. We left everything we had out there on the field today,” Long said.
Long, who was moved from right guard to right tackle this week, said he was encouraged by the level of communication on the offensive line among players that had never before played as a unit.
“It's something that will strengthen with time,” Long said. "Communication always improves as we get to know each other better in game-day situations."
Long said he felt "extremely comfortable" with his new position.
“The coaches have been leading up to this for a while and they gave me a definitive answer on the move earlier this week," he said. "It was for sure this past Friday. You get comfortable playing one position so at first it was unsettling. I have a great group of guys around me and they have helped tremendously. I did have some struggles during the transition but I felt I kept my head up today and played pretty hard.”
Long allowed one sack on QB Jay Cutler, who played well for three quarters before the wheels fell off in the fourth.
“Jay played so hard and so well," Long siad. "He was lights out and you couldn’t ask for a more gritty performance than what he gave. He got out of the pocket, extended plays with his legs, keeping the ball away from their defense.”
While the Bears aren't happy about losing to an NFC North rival, Long said there were plenty of positives to build on during the regular season.
"I know you can’t be happy about any loss, but I felt that as a unit we were progressing in the right direction," he said. "Matt Forte had a tremendous game. The receivers all did great. This was a challenging game against a formidable opponent. We got good field position, we led for quite a while, and I think we put up quite a fight. Nobody wants to lose so of course I’m not happy about the end result. It shows we have a ways to go but I do feel we are on an upward trajectory.”
What does Long think about the belief around the league and in the national media that the Bears could be in for a difficult season.
“I don’t see that at all," he said. "We didn’t get the win today and that’s a tremendous disappointment, especially in a rivalry like this one. You can’t say ‘oh we played well and too bad we didn’t win’. It doesn’t work that way. We’re upset and frustrated right now. But you don’t want to give into negative thoughts. It's a mental game and you have to stay on top of that aspect. You’ve got to continue to push forward and compete. Not everything is going to be rainbows. It might take a little time but I feel we have the right mix here to make this team great.”