Knowing that they're unlikely to commit a dozen penalties again, or lose the ball twice on fumbles, or blow a 14-point lead in the final 21 minutes as they did Sunday against the Panthers gives the Bears hope this week against the Buccaneers.
"We definitely have a chip on our shoulder because we don't like that we kind of gave the game away," rookie running back Matt Forte said. "So we have a lot of enthusiasm this week."
Even though they dominated for much of the game in Charlotte, it wasn't enough to keep the Bears from seeing their record drop to 1-1 – but they realize much of the damage was self-inflicted. There were the 12 penalties for 86 yards, two giveaways, just one takeaway and plenty of missed opportunities.
"It was frustrating all around because we left plays on the field, and we weren't able to hook up on plays that we should have," wide receiver Brandon Lloyd said. "I think the best words for me, pretty much how I've always looked at it [is], 'Get over it.' Coach Lovie [Smith] said it: 'Time to get over it and move on.' We've got a new opponent next week, and that's kind of where my head is at."
Smith said he doesn't have to harp on players who made mental or physical errors, although he won't ignore mistakes. Bottom line, he wants his team to be ready for the next challenge: the 1-1 Bucs, with former Bears quarterback Brian Griese running the offense.
"We addressed the situation, not that you really have to," Smith said. "Every mistake we made, every turnover, we realize at the time. But you do have to move on. This is another day. You can't let one loss beat you the next week. What I mean by that is [not] harping on it. We watched the video, made our corrections, and now it really is on to Tampa Bay."
Wide receiver Rashied Davis was displeased with his own play, which included a dropped pass on the first possession of the second half and a holding call that negated a 17-yard run by Matt Forte early in the fourth quarter.
"I'm frustrated by the holding call," Davis said. "That was disappointing because it brought back a big play. The drop was my biggest deal. I dropped an easy catch on a slant."
Fullback Jason McKie, who was stopped on fourth and 1 on the Bears' final offensive play said it was tough watching it replayed on Monday.
"They had a good defense called. They knew that play was coming," McKie said. "We ran it a couple times during the game, [but] that's something that we have to convert."
Asked if it was the right call, McKie said: "We just run the play that's called. That's our job, to execute the plays. And that particular play we didn't execute, and you see the result. As soon as I got the ball, I was hit. I tried to go to the left side to try to get one yard, but they had a good call. They played that play well."
Smith said he saw a few positive signs against the Panthers, just not enough of them.
"We've definitely seen our old defense back," he said. "And special teams, whenever you can start off a game like that with a touchdown (off Darrell McClover's blocked punt), it's got to be encouraging. But in the end, we didn't do enough. We realize that. But we see what we can become and what we will become as a football team. Tough loss for us. It hurt quite a bit, especially [Sunday], but today's about moving on."
Hester had swelling in the area of his rib injury Monday and was scheduled for an MRI later in the day. McGowan was still unable to put much weight on his sprained left ankle.
As usual, Smith was less than forthcoming regarding the injuries or the players' status.
"Devin has a rib injury and Brandon has an ankle injury," Smith said. "As far as how long [they] will be out, I'm not going to get into all of that. We're doing everything we can to see exactly where they are, to check them out the best we can. We'll give you an update a little bit later on."
Expect official word to come down sometime late Sunday morning for the noon kickoff. Since there didn't seem to be any evidence of Hester taking a hit to the ribs, his injury appears to be a strain or a pull. McGowan is not expected to play against the Bucs, and Hester might be no better than 50-50.
Davis didn't want to think about injuries, but said overcoming adversity is part of the game.
"Everybody that's in the game has to make plays, period," Davis said. "No matter who's in there, you have to make plays. That's what you're here for.That's why you have a job." …
After the Panthers fought back to narrow the Bears' lead to 17-13 in the fourth quarter, the Bears had an excellent opportunity to put the game out of reach.
"It's a game of inches," said Booker, who played only about 20 snaps and had one catch for four yards. "We missed it by inches. Unfortunately, it worked out that way. I think we left a lot of plays out there, period."
The Bears allowed Carolina to score the game's final 17 points and steal a 20-17 victory.
"We could have put the game out of reach, and it would have been smooth sailing," Booker said. "But when you let teams in this league hang around, eventually they're going to come back. They came back, and they got us." …
Linebacker and special-teams standout McClover got the Bears off to a flying start by blocking a Jason Baker punt on the Panthers' first possession that was returned 9 yards for a touchdown by Lloyd to give the Bears a 7-0 lead exactly two minutes into the game.
"It wasn't really anything special," McClover said. "Coach [Dave Toub] called the play. I was the force guy. I forced it pretty good, and I got a block."
McClover, who appeared to anticipate the snap, came off the far left edge and blew past Nick Goings before laying out to snuff Baker's punt. Lloyd caught the bouncing ball head high and raced into the end zone untouched.
"I knew I had it," McClover said. "I was just trying to hit it where we could get it."
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