The Monsters of the Midway got completely dominated by their biggest rival Sunday at Lambeau Field. Be it offense, defense, or special teams, the Packers whipped the Bears in every aspect of the game and got back into the thick of the NFC North hunt. Head coach Lovie Smith and Co. tucked their collective tail between their legs and headed back to the Windy City in shame, embarrassed after looking so lifeless in Green Bay.
Some teams never recover after getting pasted 37-3, but quarterback Kyle Orton believes he and the rest of the Bears have already forgotten about their worst effort of the season.
"I think we've moved on," Orton said Wednesday before practice at Halas Hall. "We've put it behind us. We realize we didn't play like we need to. The focus is on this week and getting better and getting a big win."
After missing one game because of an ankle sprain suffered back in Week 9 against the Lions, Orton looked rusty in only completing 13 of 26 passes for 133 yards. He was not intercepted, although his last play of the game was a fumble that got returned 54 yards for a touchdown by Packers defensive end Jason Hunter. Rex Grossman took over on the next series, finishing the contest 4-of-7 through the air but for just 26 yards.
Green Bay D-end Aaron Kampman appeared to roll up on Orton's banged-up ankle on the first drive of the game, although the signal-caller says he's fine and should be ready to go again Sunday at lowly St. Louis.
"Feeling good," he said when asked about the status of his injury. "Feeling better every day. It's gonna be a process. I don't think it's just gonna miraculously get better. But just as long as we keep on making the improvements, and hopefully on Sundays don't take too far of a step back."
Early on in that football game, Orton clearly wasn't himself and looked to be limited to some degree because he couldn't plant and throw with any authority. Not only was he inaccurate with some of his passes, but he was unable to hit anything outside of a checkdown to tailback Matt Forte or a slant to tight end Greg Olsen. As a matter of fact, the Chicago wide receivers went the entire first half without making a single reception and only managed four catches by the time the final whistle blew.
That being said, Orton refused to admit that his injury was the reason why he was so ineffective against Green Bay's talented secondary.
"I don't think that was the case for really any of the plays that I went back and looked at," said Orton. "They beat us, and if I was healthy they would have still beat us. They just outplayed us."
The Bears had a chance to establish themselves as the favorite in the division while perhaps knocking the Packers out of contention altogether, but now both teams – along with the Vikings – are deadlocked with identical 5-5 records. The odds of earning a wild-card berth are slim at best since there are currently eight teams in the conference with better records than anybody in the NFC North. Either Chicago, Green Bay, or Minnesota is going to emerge as division champs, while the other two will likely watch the postseason at home like Joe Sixpack.
The coaching staff has preached to its ballclub that they're facing a six-game season and to forget about what's already happened in the previous 10 contests – Orton agrees with that assessment of the situation.
"We're all even," he said, "and what you do from this point forward is going to determine if you make the playoffs or not. Not what you did the previous 10 games, but what we do the next six. And that's what everybody's focus is on is this week in practice, getting a big win, and just keep it rolling."
Week 12 presents a perfect opportunity for the Bears to right their offensive ship, as the Rams are limping along at 2-8 and have been brutal on D more often than not. St. Louis is 29th in the NFL against the run (158.4 yards allowed per game), 24th against the pass (233.7) and dead last in scoring defense (31.7). On the other side of the ball, quarterback Marc Bulger hasn't been protected by his offensive line, running back Steven Jackson will miss his second straight game with a bad thigh, and wide receiver Torry Holt is having the least productive season of his stellar career by far.
Losing Sunday would be nothing short of inexcusable for the Bears, especially since both the Packers (at New Orleans) and Vikings (at Jacksonville) have tough matchups – they just might be alone atop the standings again before that Week 13 trip to Minnesota.
"I think we know that we're at a critical point in the season, and the cream's gonna rise to the top," said Orton. "So hopefully it pushes everybody to work harder and get it right and get a win."
John Crist is the Publisher of Bear Report and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.
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