Defense Vulnerable to Big Play

Bears defensive coordinator Ron Rivera refused to rip rookie safety Chris Harris for the 33-yard touchdown catch he allowed when he was beaten deep by the Browns' Antonio Bryant, which turned out to be the winning score.

"That's a young player who's going to learn and grow and get better from this," Rivera said. "He's got the ability to make that play. It doesn't change the way I feel about him. He's a solid football player, and he does a lot of good things for us. He's a young player put in a difficult situation. I have all the confidence in the world in his abilities."

That doesn't mean the Bears won't revisit the idea of replacing Harris with veteran Mike Green, who lost his job to Harris after the season opener.

"There's always a chance of changing personnel," said head coach Lovie Smith. "We have a starting rotation and if you're at the top of the list, you need to play at a certain level, so there's always that chance. We'll evaluate it like we do always."

Cornerback Charles Tillman was toasted by Bryant 38 seconds later for a 28-yard TD.

"One play was man-to-man coverage (Tillman's), and the other was two-deep (zone)," coach Lovie Smith said. "It still comes down to guys getting in the right position to make plays. There is no magic cure or anything like that. Guys get paid to make plays, and they are going to need to do that."

Tillman had one of the Bears' two interceptions, ending the Browns' opening drive when he stole a Trent Dilfer pass at the Bears 4-yard line.

Safety Mike Brown said the unit is not pointing fingers at any particular player, but was not kind when he evaluated the play of the defense.

"I don't know how to put frustration into words," Brown said. "We're just terrible, it's like we suck, man. I don't know what else to tell you. We can't find a way to win ballgames. I hate to say it: we always find a way to lose. I know we have to find a way to win, but we always find a way to lose. Always."

The big play has become the Achilles heal for a defense that is still ranked statistically toward the top of the league. The Bears have surrendered scoring plays of 51, 40, 18, 36, 33 and 28 yards this season.

"I think the stats are misleading in the respect that we're not winning football games," said Hunter Hillenmeyer.

"But right now we're playing really good football for about 50-55 plays a game and there's just those 5 or 10 snaps every game where just one or two guys are not in the right spots. It's not one person, but it's each person has one play that they wish they could have back."

Even though the Bears are just one game out of first place Detroit in the NFC North, Hillenmeyer feels the team needs to look inward instead of looking at the competition.

"The important thing right now is to get wins not necessarily to stay ahead of everybody else," Hillenmeyer said. "We're not going to try to go 7 and 9 and make the playoffs because everybody else in our division stinks. We want to get as many wins as we can and let all that sort of fall into place."

The Bears will have an opportunity to get a win and take down a division opponent Sunday, when the Minnesota comes to Soldier Field with an identical 1-3 record.


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