Too little too late

SEATTLE _ In a city where it rains much of the time and the suicide rate is annually among the highest in the country, the Bears experienced more doom and gloom.

After a 24-17 defeat by the Seattle Seahawks many players said they felt positive about the future. The problem now is the past -- a 1-5 start -- weighs them down like an anchor in the NFC North standings.

"I'm optimistic about what's going on," defensive tackle Bryan Robinson said. "We're getting better."

The positives were the way young players produced in critical roles, the way the rhythm passing game revived under quarterback Chris Chandler and the way their offense battled back from 14-3 first-half and 17-9 fourth-quarter deficits.

The harsh negative reality was the Bears' defense committed critical pass interference penalties and again failed to stop a team in the clutch. Seattle's Shaun Alexander busted loose a 25-yard touchdown run around left end with 58 seconds to play, breaking a 17-17 tie and ending a game-winning 72-yard drive.

"You got to have it all to win consistently," Bears coach Dick Jauron said. "We took it down and scored at a critical time and then we just couldn't stop them at a critical time. That's the way it's gone unfortunately.

"We're the only people that can stop it"

The rosy picture some Bears tried to paint was also tempered by the reality that young players were only playing because injuries had consumed a myriad of starters by game's end.

And although their offense had fought back to tie on Stanley Pritchett's 1-yard TD dive with 4:12 left and Chandler's valiant head-long two-point dive into four tacklers, three other times they settled for Paul Edinger field goals, they managed only 211 net yards and Chandler threw a game-sealing interception to Marcus Trufant at the Bears' 39 with 44 seconds remaining.

"We had chances to score again in the red zone; we ended up kicking some field goals instead of scoring some touchdowns," offensive coordinator John Shoop complained. "Regardless of who's in there, who the wide receivers are, (pass) protections, anything, we've got to find ways to score touchdowns."

Edinger kicked a 50-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead in the first quarter. After Alexander's 1-yard TD run and former Bear Bobby Engram's 25-yard TD catch in the second quarter, Edinger booted a 35-yarder to get the Bears within 14-6 at halftime.

He added a third kick, this from 40 yards with 13:28 left in the game after Josh Brown's 45-yarder for Seattle.

The Bears trailed 17-9 and had the ball with 11:18 to go in the game. They marched 67 yards thanks to Chandler's 11-yard pass to rookie Bobby Wade on a third-and-seven and his 21-yard pass on third-and-11 to rookie Justin Gage.

Following Pritchett's TD dive, Chandler -- who completed 19-of-34 for 149 yards, rolled right on the tying two-point try and found no one open. The quarterback who had been knocked out of 20 ballgames in his 16-year career dove headfirst at the goal line for the 17-17 tie.

"Everyone was on the right side of the field and I just kind of tried to make it in," Chandler said.

Matt Hasselbeck, who completed 19-of-27 for 215 yards and was picked off once in the end zone by Mike Brown, then guided the Seahawks to the winning score but his biggest contribution might have been on an incompletion. Rookie cornerback Charles Tillman got flagged for pass interference on second-and-20 from the Bears' 40.

At worst, Seattle (5-1) was in field goal range. The Bears packed in their defense expecting a dive to set up a winning field goal. But Alexander went around left end untouched on the next play for the winning points.

"Actually, I was just free-lancing," said Alexander, who wound up with 101 yards on 21 carries. "It was one of those things where we're trying to push the pile and I thought that if everybody's in there, I'm just going to go outside and see what happens.

"And it worked out."

After Chandler's interception to Trufant, the Seahawks killed the clock, leaving the Bears to ponder a handful of injuries and a season unraveling even while they were smiling about the future.

Wide receiver Marty Booker didn't play due to his ankle sprain and the Bears lost: safety Mike Green with a groin strain, running back Adrian Peterson (16 carries-55 yards) in the fourth quarter with an ankle sprain, tight end Desmond Clark with a sprained toe and wide receiver Ahmad Merritt with a strained neck.

"So there it is," Jauron said, "you know, a long day."

A long day in what is shaping up as a long season -- even if there are a few bright spots from time to time.


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