Bears on Offense
At the snap, Carolina only rushes the four linemen. Clark stays in the backfield to block and there is no pressure on Orton, who looks left immediately. Wide left, Davis and Booker release downfield. Davis breaks inside at 15 yards and gets caught up in the wash of linebackers and safeties. Booker hesitates for an instant 10 yards downfield, which causes Lucas to slow up briefly. Booker then turns on the jets and blows past Lucas. Orton sees the wide-open receiver and releases the ball downfield, only he overthrows Booker, who, at the point, is three yards behind the cornerback. Chicago is forced to punt.
This play occurred with 7:03 left in the game and the score 17-13 in the Bears' favor. If Orton had been able to make an accurate deep pass and hit his veteran receiver in stride for a TD, the game would have most likely been over. Later in the fourth quarter, Orton overthrew a wide-open Davis 20 yards down the field in Panthers territory and, again on the last drive of the game, threw behind Davis for what would have been a first down just a few yards out of field goal range. If he were to have completed just one of these passes, the Bears would have been in a great position to either win the game or at least send it to overtime. This was a horrendous choke job that needs to be forgotten before Tampa Bay rolls into town.
Bears on Defense
At the snap, LB Lance Briggs blitzes up the middle, while fellow linebackers Brian Urlacher and Hunter Hillenmeyer drop into coverage. Delhomme turns and fakes a handoff to Stewart up the middle. This freezes both of the safeties and Urlacher. DT Tommie Harris gets around G Geoff Hangartner using a swim move and puts pressure on the QB. At the same time, King releases from the right side of the line and is shadowed by Hillenmeyer on his outside shoulder. King runs straight down the hash and turns for the ball 15 yards upfield. Delhomme locks onto his tight end and gets rid of the ball just before Harris hits him. Hillenmeyer stays on King's outside shoulder, yet the ball is thrown to the inside and allows the tight end to make a diving grab at the 1-yard line. On the very next play, Carolina scores the game-winning touchdown.
This play was entirely set up by the hard-nosed running of Stewart, who punished the Chicago defense in the second half. On the play previous, Stewart had rushed for an 11-yard gain, which is why the Bears had their run-stopping personnel on the field. It's also the reason all but three defenders were lined up along the line of scrimmage at the snap. If the Bears had been able to tackle Stewart effectively in the second half, Payne and Urlacher would not have been so inclined to bite on the play fake and, in the process, leave a gaping passing lane. Chicago's defense let a rookie running back take over the game, and it cost them in the end.
Jeremy Stoltz is a staff writer for The Business Ledger, the business newspaper for suburban Chicago. He contributes frequently to Bear Report and BearReport.com.
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