Bears head coach Lovie Smith didn't have much good to say about Sunday's 37-3 loss to the Packers, but he was ready to put it in the past.
"It goes without saying that we weren't ready to play the football game this past week," Smith said. "You have to move on, and that's what we've done. We have a six-game season starting up right now."
Smith's players didn't feel any better about their performance after watching the film Monday morning, but they, too, were anxious to look ahead.
"We saw a lot of them kicking our butts," six-time Pro Bowl center Olin Kreutz said. "We've got to get that corrected. We're really frustrated. We didn't do much [on offense] to help our team."
For the second straight week, the offense was saddled with poor field position. And for the second straight week, the offense was unable to extricate itself and improve field position.
The Bears were forced to run 10 plays from inside their own 20-yard line Sunday afternoon at Lambeau Field, and just one of them produced a first down, resulting in Brad Maynard punts from the Bears' 32-, 19- and 10-yard lines.
Offensive coordinator Ron Turner said being buried in their own end limits the Bears' play-calling, but he added that it's the responsibility of the offense to improve its situation.
"You have certain things you want to call, and it does affect how you call it," Turner said. "But it's not a matter of where you get the ball. It's what you do with it. When we get the ball back there, we have to do something with it. We have to help our defense. We have to help change the field position. Even if we don't go down and score, we have to get some first downs and change the field position. We're not doing that. We're not doing our part. We have to get first downs."
The Bears offense produced just nine first downs all day, compared to the Packers' 24, which resulted in a Green Bay domination in time of possession, 37:28 to 22:32, and in total yards, 427-234.
Quarterback Kyle Orton completed just four passes to wide receivers, and only one of them was for more than nine yards.
"It's tough," said wide receiver Devin Hester, who had one catch for seven yards. "What can I say? We've been embarrassed. We didn't come out and play well. We didn't do the things that needed to be done to win the game, and it showed. This was a big game for us. Now it's going to be tougher than what we expected, so we just have to dig down deep inside and bounce back."
That will be the Bears' theme this week as they prepare for the 2-8 Rams and a tailor-made opportunity to get back on track. They still maintain a share of first place with the Packers and Vikings at 5-5 in the parity-rich NFC North, which they say should be more than enough incentive to regroup.
"We know what's at stake," Kreutz said. "You have to let this one hurt for a couple days, and when Wednesday comes around we'll look at reality, and reality is we're still in first place and we've got six games left to try to get in the playoffs."
Smith said he's had worse losses as a coach and cited some examples as evidence that the Bears' playoff hopes needn't end because of one horrendous outing.
"When I was in Tampa we got beat 45-0. [It was] 45-0 in the third quarter," Smith said, recalling the Buccaneers' 1999 season. "We lost [to the Raiders], and [five] weeks later we played in the NFC championship game. Last year, the Packers were down here and we beat them 35-7. They played in the NFC championship game. These things happen."
Kreutz said it won't be a challenge to get the Bears' minds right by Sunday.
"It shouldn't be difficult," he said. "This is the NFL. You lose one week, you win one week and the next week is the next game."
The next game can't come soon enough for a team trying to forget the last one.
NOTES & QUOTES
"You can say that we're starting over again," Smith said, "if you look at it that way, and that's what we're going to do. We have veterans in the locker room. We've been down before, and now it's a critical stage. We'll step up, get some things corrected and go from there."
The remaining schedule includes three games against teams with a 5-5 record, the Vikings, Saints and Packers – the last two at home. Next up is a road game at the Rams, who are 2-8. The Bears also host the 4-6 Jaguars on Dec. 7 and finish on the road against the 3-7 Texans.
Asked what made him hopeful of being able to bounce back after a devastating defeat, Smith said: "Knowing who we have, and just knowing the history behind this football team. We've won a lot of games. The race is just starting. Nobody has an advantage.
"This feeling that we have right now, believe me, we don't like it. And we want to do something about it, and that's a good thing as we go forward." …
Bears wide receivers caught just four passes from Orton against the Packers, and only one was for more than nine yards. A week earlier in a 21-14 loss to the Titans, wide receivers caught just five passes from Rex Grossman.
"Other teams covered us," Smith said. "It's kind of as simple as that. We haven't been able to get them the ball. If you look at our receiver play throughout, it's been pretty good. You go through spells where you are not as productive as you would like. But in the big picture, we have gotten a lot of production from our receivers."
Rashied Davis, the Bears' most productive wide receiver, is 60th in the NFL in receiving yards with 369 and 69th in receptions with 29. Hester ranks 73rd (318 yards) and 85th (26 catches). …
Danieal Manning replaced Hester on kickoff returns in the second half against the Packers and was much more effective, averaging 27.3 yards on three attempts. Hester averaged just 22.8 yards on five tries and appeared tentative and indecisive, which didn't seem to please special teams coach Dave Toub.
"I'm sure Dave would like for him to score every time," Smith said. "That's how we would all like to see Devin with the returns. Has he been hesitant? I don't know what word you want to give it. We haven't gotten a lot of production from our returns up until this point."
For the season, Manning is averaging 26.5 yards on 11 kickoff returns, while Hester is averaging 21.8 yards on 29 attempts. Smith wouldn't say if Manning would get more work on returns this week.
"Danieal came in and gave us a little spark there," Smith said. "Each week you evaluate the video, and you make decisions based on that."
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