Reality Settling In for Bumbling Bears

When a team forces comes up with four takeaways defensively and doesn't turn the football over at all on offense, victory is almost automatic. Yet the Bears still found a way to lose to the Giants 21-16 on Sunday at Soldier Field, which most likely boots them out of playoff contention in the NFC.

It's not often a team gets four takeaways, doesn't turn the ball over at all, leads by nine points halfway through the fourth quarter and still loses the game. But the Bears found a way to do it.

The 21-16 loss to the Giants essentially eliminates the 5-7 Bears from postseason consideration. But no team that has failed to win more than one game in a row by December and is in last place in its division deserves to be in the playoff picture anyway.

The Bears know it, even if they're not all ready to admit it.

"I don't like the guessing game and the wishing game and the hoping game," defensive end Adewale Ogunleye said in the Soldier Field locker room after the game. "Wishing and hoping is for the birds. I'd rather control our own destiny. I'm not for sitting around and wishing and hoping."

For the fourth straight week Ogunleye forced a fumble, his team-best fifth of the season. Ogunleye also recovered the fumble by Derrick Ward at the Giants' 24-yard line, setting up Robbie Gould's 41-yard field goal that gave the Bears a 16-7 lead with 10:52 left in the third quarter. But that was little consolation.

"I didn't do well enough to help us win," Ogunleye said. "To do all this work, starting with training camp and all the practices and all the meetings and then to not win, it sucks."

The Bears, whose 2-6 NFC record is the worst of the contenders, would need an incredible string of good fortune to make it to the postseason even if they somehow manage to win their last four games.


"Looks like we'll be home," defensive end Alex Brown said. "We'll play the last four games, though. Let's try to win and see what happens."

DE Alex Brown
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Bears are in the cellar of the NFC North, trailing both the 6-6 Vikings and 6-6 Lions in addition to the 6-6 Cardinals, all of whom are currently tied for the last wild-card playoff spot. But the Redskins, Eagles, Panthers and Saints are 5-7 like the Bears, and all of them hold tiebreaker edges on the Bears.

"We're in the back door trying to get in," tight end Desmond Clark said. "It's not a situation we want to be in, hoping that other teams lose. We figured if we won out, we'll fall in there somewhere. But that's not the case anymore, so now we've got to hope wish and pray at this point. It's out of our hands."

The Bears offense started out impressively, going 79 yards for a touchdown with the opening drive and rolling up 214 total yards en route to a 13-7 halftime lead, but the offense faded at the finish just like the defense. The Bears managed just 61 yards in the third quarter and 37 in the fourth.

"There were a couple opportunities to make plays that weren't made for whatever reason, and it definitely would have helped us," QB Rex Grossman said. "We scored 16 points and that's not going to cut it, especially with the turnovers they gave us and field position. We should have done a lot better than we did, and it's just really frustrating right now."

News & Notes

  • WR Devin Hester had one of his worst games as a Bear, getting just 16 yards on three punt returns and 19 yards on his only kickoff return opportunity as the Giants' Lawrence Tynes kicked off out of bounds twice rather than let Hester handle the ball. Hester had one rush for 1 yard and caught one pass for minus-4 yards. He also dropped what would have been an 81-yard touchdown pass.
  • RB Adrian Peterson, in his first start since 2003 and the second of his career, had game highs with seven catches and 82 receiving yards but added just 67 rushing yards on 22 attempts with a long gain of nine yards.
  • TE Desmond Clark caught five passes for 76 yards, including a 1-yard TD.
  • QB Rex Grossman threw for 296 yards but completed just 25 of 46 passes and was sacked six times for 52 yards in losses.
  • DE Adewale Ogunleye forced two fumbles and recovered one. It was the fourth straight week in which he has forced a fumble.

  • Is Devin Hester already the greatest return man ever?
  • An interview with running backs coach Tim Spencer
  • Ed "The Claw" Sprinkle: The Oldest Living Bear
  • A look at the autobiography Sayers: My Life and Times
  • Getting to know third-year quarterback Kyle Orton
  • All of that plus much more in the January issue of ...

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