The Chicago Bears were punched in the face this afternoon by the visiting Arizona Cardinals, who proved just how steep a mountain the Monsters of the Midway must still climb before attaining a level of respectability.
The Cardinals had more first downs, more rushing yards, a better third-down percentage, a better fourth-down percentage, more time of possession and a better red-zone efficiency, while their defense and special teams scored as many points as Chicago's offense.
The Cardinals beat up on the Bears in nearly every facet of the game in route to a 48-23 blowout victory.
Yet there was one area in which the Bears topped their opponent: penalties.
The Bears were called for 14 infranctions on Sunday for 170 yards, which is a franchise record for penalty yards in a single contest - a record that has stood for 71 years.
"Downfield penalties were a huge problem," head coach John Fox said after the game. "170 yards worth of them. I think it's something we need to improve."
The two biggest penalties came on interference calls against Chicago's secondary. The first was a 42-yard call on CB Kyle Fuller in the first quarter, followed by a 38-yard call on CB Alan Ball. Both of those plays led to Arizona touchdowns.
The Bears also got an offensive pass interfernce call on TE Zach Miller, on offside call on DL Will Sutton, a roughing the passer call on OLB Pernell McPhee, a 12-men-on-the-field call, a false start on C Will Montgomery, a holding call and a false start on G Vladimir Ducasse, a false start and holding call on LT Jermon Bushrod, and an illegal contact call on Ball.
That's a mess of penalties that ulitmately played a large part in the blowout loss at home. It's indicitive of an undisciplined team that continued spiraled out of control in the same manner as its predecessors the past two years.
That's a problem, as the new coaching staff was supposed to instill a new level of restraint for a club that ran amok last season. If this trend continues going forward, the Bears will continue to underachieve and the club will be in line for a Top 10 pick in the 2016 draft.