Muhammad Diverts Heat from Orton

LANDOVER, Md. - Bears wide receiver Muhsin Muhammad had once earned a nickname in Carolina for telling media about his own standout individual effort on a day when the Panthers got drubbed.

"Flower,'' he was called, after telling reporters, "Amid the rubble a flower bloomed,'' in referring to his own play. On Sunday after the Washington Redskins' 9-7 win over the Bears, their new receiver was doing anything but praising his own play in a disappointing loss.

"I didn't get the job done today,'' Muhammad said. "I was brought here to make big plays. Whatever reason, I didn't make any big plays today.''

Muhammad led the Bears with six catches for 59 yards, averaging only 9.8 yards per catch with a long of 20 yards.

"I helped move the ball on some third downs,'' he said. "Out of me, I expect to do that. That's where my expectation level is. It's very high. I want touchdowns. I want to help put points on the board. I want to help lead this team to some victories and I didn't get it done today.''

Muhammad was most critical of himself for dropping passes.

One was a sideline route which might have provided better field position to pin the Redskins back near the goal line in the fourth quarter.

The other one occurred with 9:41 left in the second quarter. Rookie quarterback Kyle Orton threw down the middle of the field. Muhammad caught it, but Omar Stoutmire drilled him and the ball popped out.

A wild scramble ensued for the ball near mid-field after a 25-yard gain, but officials ruled it an incompletion. Muhammad said he had his hands on the ball after it fell on the ground, but the Bears didn't call for a replay to see if it was actually complete, fumbled and recovered by Muhammad.

"I didn't get a good look at it and they called it an incompletion anyway,'' coach Lovie Smith said, explaining why he didn't call for a replay. "That's how we saw it.''

Muhammad couldn't argue.

"I really don't know,'' he said about it being complete. "Because I got hit pretty hard. As soon as I caught the ball I was bringing it in and I got hit. I don't know who did it, but I'm trying to get his address right now.

"The rule is you have to make a football move after you catch the ball and I knew that as soon as I caught the ball I got one foot back on the ground and it was like bang, bang, bang, bang.''

Ironically, the ruling was made by back judge Tony Steratore, the same official who cost the Bears a game with a strange incompletion call in the end zone on an apparent Bernard Berrian touchdown catch against Detroit last December.

Muhammad had 12 of the Bears' 28 passes aimed his way by Orton. So the Redskins were shifting their coverages his way.

"They paid a lot of attention to where I was at out there today and I always had people around me whenever the ball was in the air,'' he said.

Muhammad's biggest contribution might have occurred after the game.

It was an easy out to blame the offense's problems on a quarterback who had never played a down in the NFL, but Muhammad would hear none of this with 15 more games to play.

"I wouldn't put that weight on my quarterback's head,'' he said. "I would say it's more the people around him. We need to make his job a little more easy. We need to make his job easier. He shouldn't be in a position where he needs to win the game with his arm.

"I'm not saying he can't make plays, but we need to put him into better positions to make plays. Some of these difficult balls we need to catch.''

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