Cedric Benson finally showed some big-play ability in the 10th game of the season, ripping off a touchdown run of 43 yards and then a 20-yarder that set up a field goal and helped the Bears to a 10-0 lead after just six minutes and nine seconds.
It seemed Benson was well on his way to a career day, but he got just nine more carries and finished with 89 yards on 11 attempts for an 8.1-yard average that boosted his lackluster average per carry from 3.0 to 3.3. The team that "gets off the bus running" was expecting a huge day.
"I stayed pretty mellow about it," Benson said, "but everybody on the sidelines was pretty amped, screaming out '200 [yards].'"
Benson's 43-yard run was his longest in three years as a pro and the Bears' first offensive touchdown in the first quarter since last Dec. 12. If he would have gotten the 28 carries he had a week earlier, 200 yards might have been a possibility, but he never got close.
"How do I explain it?" Bears head coach Lovie Smith said when asked about Benson's inactivity. "We probably should have given him the ball a little bit more."
Benson said he wasn't concerned with his personal stats while the Bears were letting the 10-0 lead slip away.
"I just wish we could have finished a couple of those drives," he said. "We really could have sealed the deal. Then we probably could have run it some more."
The Bears had a chance to tie the game at 24-24 in the third quarter when Brian Urlacher recovered a Matt Hasselbeck fumble caused by Adewale Ogunleye at the Seahawks' 39-yard line. But on 4th-and-1, Benson was swarmed by the Seattle defense for no gain.
"They got good penetration," Benson said. "They've got a good defense. They just kind of won [on that play]."
The Bears' first-down mistakes in the second half cost Benson some carries. A sack and then two false-start penalties in the fourth quarter on the opening plays of possessions forced the Bears to pass.
"On two of them, we had a run called," offensive coordinator Ron Turner said. "So now all of a sudden instead of 1st-and-10, it's 1st-and-15."
NOTES & QUOTES
No official announcement was made Monday regarding the starting quarterback job, but it sure sounded like Rex Grossman would take the opening snap vs. the Broncos on Sunday at Soldier Field.
"Rex played very well this past week," head coach Lovie Smith said. "I would rather not go into who is starting and all of that right now, but you saw the game. He did a heck of a job."
Grossman threw for 266 yards, his second-most productive day since Sept. 24, 2006, and completed 24 of 37 passes without an interception for a passer rating of 86.1. He completed four passes of more than 20 yards, two to Muhsin Muhammad and one each to Rashied Davis and Bernard Berrian.
"Offensively, I think we did some good things," Smith said. "Rex Grossman played well. Throughout the game [he] passed the ball well, got it to a lot of receivers. Our receivers caught the ball well."
Brian Griese started Games 4-9 after Grossman was benched, but he was relegated to No. 3 last week after suffering a sprained left shoulder that knocked him out of Week 9 against the Raiders and limited his practice time last week. His status is also uncertain this week.
"Once Brian gets in position where he can play, then we'll put him into the mix and make those decisions," Smith said. "He should be a little closer to that this week, hopefully."
The quarterback position is likely to be evaluated weekly, including Kyle Orton, who moved up a spot last week to No. 2 and could get some starts if the Bears are mathematically eliminated from the postseason.
TE Greg Olsen
Elaine Thompson/AP Images
"It's a week-to-week thing with our entire football team," Smith said, "quarterback and all positions." …
The false-start penalty on tight end John Gilmore in the first quarter was the 64th by an opponent in 22 games at noisy Qwest Field since the start of the 2005 season, the most in the NFL. Later in the game, the Bears were whistled for three more false-start penalties, two on right tackle Fred Miller and one on tight end Desmond Clark.
"We made some critical mistakes," Smith said. "Penalties really hurt us."
The Bears were flagged six times for 40 yards, but their four false starts stalled an offense that struggled to take advantage of opportunities in the second half. …
Rookie tight end Greg Olsen, who was shut out last week after leading the Bears with 19 catches and 217 receiving yards over the previous four games, had a seven-yard reception on the first play from scrimmage and finished with a career-high seven catches for 43 yards.
PLAYER PERSONNEL NOTES
REPORT CARD VS. SEAHAWKS
PASSING OFFENSE: B-minus – Rex Grossman had his best complete game of the season (24 of 37 for 266 yards and an 86.1 passer rating), as he utilized WRs Bernard Berrian, Muhsin Muhammad and Rashied Davis to make big plays down the field. All three had receptions of more than 20 yards, and rookie TE Greg Olsen had seven catches underneath. Grossman was, however, sacked five times, and he lost a fumble in the fourth quarter that the Seahawks turned into three points.
RUSHING OFFENSE: B – Cedric Benson had a 43-yard TD burst and a 20-yard run on his first two carries, but he only got nine more attempts the rest of the game and still finished with 89 yards and an 8.1-yard average. As a team, the Bears had a season-best 4.9-yard average per carry, getting 107 yards but rushing just 22 times.
PASS DEFENSE: D-minus – Matt Hasselbeck picked apart the Bears secondary, completing 30 of 44 passes for 337 yards and two TDs and had a 106.0 passer rating. The Bears got some pass-rush pressure, but Hasselbeck was able to sidestep it on almost every occasion and find wide-open targets. The Bears got to Hasselbeck just twice, and one of those was on a safety blitz.
RUSH DEFENSE: C-minus – The Seahawks haven't had much success running the ball and they haven't made much of an effort to do it, but they still picked up 103 yards on 23 carries for a 4.5-yard average, running through large gaps at the line of scrimmage against an ineffective Chicago front four.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C-minus – Robbie Gould hit all three FG attempts, including 47- and 48-yarders. Devin Hester didn't get any punt-return opportunities, but he averaged a solid 29.0 yards on four kickoffs even though the kicks were often high and short.
COACHING: D – Benson got just nine carries after picking up 63 yards on his first two attempts. So much for getting off the bus running the football. Nothing the Bears tried defensively was very successful at getting pressure on the quarterback.
All of that plus much more in the January issue of ...
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