No Room For Error
The Bears were No. 25 last year in penalty-yard differential, and that negative theme recurred on Sunday, when they committed 8 penalties for 86 yards in losses, while the Redskins were flagged five times for just 45 yards.
At lower levels of football, coaches punish players prone to penalties by making them run stadium stairs, which Bears coach Lovie Smith said isn't a bad idea.
"I guess we could probably run stairs, too," he joked. "Why can't you do it? I guess we don't have any (stairs) out there."
Smith is dead serious about reducing the number of infractions, though. Three consecutive false start penalties torpedoed a fourth-quarter opportunity.
"They have to stop," he said. "If a guy continues to do it, then you have to look elsewhere. I think we'll be able to take care of that. I'm not going to blame the crowd or anything like that. We play in noisy stadiums always. We had problems with the penalties, but I don't think that will be a problem the rest of the way."
Two Sides to One Hit
When Bears weak-side linebacker Lance Briggs clothes-lined Redskins quarterback Patrick Ramsey for a sack that separated him from the football early in the second quarter, it had all the signs of a game-changing play.
Bears defensive tackle Tommie Harris recovered the ball at the Bears' 19, ending a Redskins scoring threat, firing up the visitors and riling up the partisan crowd of 90,138. The hit also knocked Ramsey out of the game with a neck injury. But the Bears' offense went three-and-out, and because the hit was in the vicinity of Ramsey's head, Briggs could face a fine from the league, although he wasn't flagged on the play.
"As far as I'm concerned, I made a play," Briggs said. "Whatever they say is whatever they say. When I go in to make a tackle, especially in a critical moment like that, when they're going in to score and we have the opportunity to get off the field, you make that play. (Ramsey) tried to duck underneath, I brought my arm right up under his chest, and he fell back and the ball came loose. As far as I'm concerned, it was a legal hit."
That's the way middle linebacker Brian Urlacher saw it.
"He shouldn't get fined," said Urlacher, who also had a sack and tied with Mike Brown for the unofficial team lead with 9 tackles. "If they don't throw the flag, how can they fine him? I don't understand the NFL. It's weird how they work sometimes. It was a good hit. The referees didn't think it was a penalty, so it must not have been a big deal. It was a great play if you ask me."
Mark Brunell, who replaced Ramsey, didn't think so.
"In my opinion the hit was illegal," Brunell said. "It was a pretty shady blow to the head."