Growing Pains

Chicago - While defense held the Lions to just 77 yards rushing, there were other issues to come out of the Bears 20-16 loss to Detroit.

The game was marked by four turnovers, a blocked field goal returned for a touchdown and nine penalties by Chicago resulting in a net loss of 95 yards. A blocked Paul Edinger field goal early in the third quarter was a momentum changer that seemed to lead the Bears on a slow downhill slide for the remainder of the game.

However for Michael Haynes, Chicago's penalties were the most unsettling part of the final stats.

"You know, there are two kinds of penalties," Haynes said. "Aggressive ones like holding or pass interference can be a good thing. It's something that everybody does and sometimes you're going to get caught. It's the unnecessary ones that hurt us. Offside, taunting, excessive celebration, too many men on the field, that kind of situation is just a dumb reason to lose yardage. That's the result of inattention and carelessness, pure and simple."

Haynes recorded his first sack of the season, which only put him one a way from matching his rookie output, and sounded ready to add to his total in the upcoming contest against Green Bay.

"There's no such thing as an untouchable quarterback, even if it is Brett Favre," Haynes said. "I see tremendous improvement in our defensive line. We are much quicker to go after the ball. All of the players on defense feel very comfortable with Coach (Lovie) Smith and Coach (Ron) Rivera. They are helping us to maximize our potential. I feel we are up to the challenge, even if it is against Green Bay."

With the Packers, the Vikings, and the Eagles following occupying the next few games on the schedule, an unseasoned Bears defense will have to mature sooner rather than later. That could be a problem with so many players who are either in their first or second years or completely new to the team.

"Football is not like any other job," Haynes said. "You come in and you have such a steep learning curve. There is no margin for error because everyone will see each mistake you make on the field. I think this added pressure will help the rookies grab onto the Bears system sooner. It will speed the other players in their process of settling in. There's just no way any of them want to fail."

Tommie Harris became the first rookie to start at defensive tackle on opening day since Roger Stillwell in 1975. He had one solo tackle and four assists against the Lions, is starting to feel comfortable already and can hardly wait to get to Lambeau Field.

"I just don't see that the Packers will be that different from any other team we will be facing," Harris said. "I think that we have the ingredients on the Bears defensive line right now to make a statement while we are in Green Bay. I won't say that I am completely satisfied with my performance today, but I will improve. The speed of the game doesn't bother me. My stamina is good and I have the desire to succeed. I am confident that I can stand up to the Packers."

While phases of the game looked sloppy at times the defense line held Detroit to just 77 yards rushing, but did record just one sack.

The Lions allowed just 10 sacks of last year, which was the lowest number in the NFL. The Bears had the fewest sacks in the league with 18.

"It was all there for us. The coaches gave us a sound plan. We didn't execute properly and consistently. Ideally, the Lions shouldn't have scored. We had some good goal line stands, some good broken plays, but there were some misses that ended up in Lions scores. Turnovers, pressuring the receivers and quarterback sacks are necessary to win. Clearly, we need to be doing more of that in order to give Rex the best possible opportunity."

Terry Johnson didn't see as much playing time as Haynes or Harris, but was emotional about the loss.

"You know, I really hoped we'd come out of this first home game with a win," Johnson said. "That's the kind of positive momentum you always want at the start of the season. So, yes I'm pretty discouraged right now. It's hard for me to talk about it. But I think that after a day or two, I'll be able to let this one go and be ready to concentrate on the game against the Packers. Worrying about your mistakes is not productive. You need to get what you can out of it then go on from there.

"I guess I'll just view this as one of those bumps on the road. I'll be back in again doing my best and hoping for a better outcome next week."


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