It was a must win-game for the Chicago Bears today. After a 21-13 loss to the Green Bay Packers, the frustration, shock and disappointment on the players' faces in the locker room after the game said more than their interviews.
Devin Hester shielded himself from a throng of reporters but finally did give a succinct analysis of the game, saying simply, "We were not on the same page."
It was clear Hester could see the postseason slipping away from the Bears, a team that started the season 7-1, yet have gone 1-5 since.
"We started strong," said Hester. "Getting that first score was a great way to begin. But that score was followed by an interception that ultimately led to a Packers score. Later we had a strong drive but when we got near the end zone, we couldn't execute."
Hester was partially responsible for that interception, going long on a pass Jay Cutler thought would be an underneath route. Hester backed away from putting any blame on Cutler, instead blaming it on the on-field communication.
"Those plays were close to succeeding," Hester said. "Just a few steps one way or another and it would have been all good."
Despite Hester's comments, it was more than just a few steps one way or the other, judging by the paltry statistics Chicago's offense was able to muster. Chicago had 190 net yards to Green Bay's 391. The Bears went 0-7 on third down attempts and lost the time of possession battle 33:23 to 26:37.
"We needed to give our defense more of a chance to keep us in the game," said Hester.
Hester wasn't alone in his frustration. Rookie receiver Alshon Jeffery was flagged three times for pass interference, one of which wiped out a touchdown.
"I don't know what happened" Jeffery said. "I don't know much of anything about the details until I go back and analyze the film. It was all happening so fast out there today."
Despite the numerous calls against him, Jeffery didn't feel the officiating crew was unfairly singling him out.
"No I don' t think so," Jeffery said. "But that one play when I was entering the end zone, it didn't seem like it should have been a penalty to me. Some of the Packers were jawing at me after that one. I ignored them and went on with my game."
Jeffery was targeted four times yet was held without a catch on the stat sheet. He sees the necessity to quickly improve his production.
"We're in the home stretch and the pressure is on big time," Jeffery said. "Just because I'm a rookie doesn't mean I can't correct any mistakes I made out there. I can be better. I will be better."
The Arizona Cardinals are up next, a game in which the Bears will likely be favored. But unless things improve on offense, a win in Glendale might only get the team closer to eventual elimination in the playoffs, a fact that bothers both Hester and Jeffery.
"This was the year our offense was going to shine," Hester said. "It's up to us to get it going and turn it around fast."
Beth Gorr has been covering the Bears for the last 12 years and is the author of Bear Memories: The Chicago-Green Bay Rivalry. She is currently working on a second book about early Bears history.