Bears Inability To Sack QB Key To Losses

The New England Patriots managed something against the Chicago Bears that no other team had all season... rack up over 300 yards of offense. Although Chicago had the stingiest defense in the NFL headed into Foxborough, the Patriots found ways to exploit the Bears aggressiveness by keeping their quarterback on his feet as they reeled off the yardage. The Dolphins also won by protecting their QB.

The Bears' defense allowed a season-worst 354 total yards Sunday, the first time all season Chicago has permitted 300 or more. Most of the damage came via the Patriots' passing game, where Tom Brady connected with seven different targets for 257 passing yards while avoiding being sacked.

"I'm disappointed in everything, all right?" defensive end Alex Brown said. "That's it. I don't like to lose. And when we do, there's a reason for it. We've got to get to the quarterback; we didn't. There are things that people do for that. They throw it quick, they chip (defensive ends with a running back or tight end). So you can't just sit back and say the pressure just didn't get there. You've got to look at it. You watched the game. So ultimately the bottom line is we lost the game. That's it.

"Who cares if we got to the quarterback or not? If we win it doesn't matter. Of course to have a better chance to win it we have to get to the quarterback, and we didn't do that."

The Bears have relied almost exclusively on their defensive line for pass-rush pressure, and that plan worked to perfection early in the season. But the production from the defensive line has declined sharply in recent weeks. The Bears had 18 sacks in the first five games, all victories, and 17 of the sacks came from linemen. But, in the past six games, including two losses, the Bears have just seven sacks, all by defensive linemen.

The Bears never got to Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, which wasn't a big problem until he engineered the game-winning drive, when he completed all four of his passes for 56 yards and a two-yard touchdown.

"You would like to prevent a situation where you don't let him take it over," coach Lovie Smith said of Brady. "But he's a great player. It's hard to stay away from that completely. We didn't get good pressure, though, throughout the day. They max-protected a few of the times, but we need to get more pressure on the quarterback also and make him get the ball out of his hands."


--With a depleted secondary, the Bears abandoned their nickel defense, keeping strong-side linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer on the field rather than replacing him with an extra defensive back in passing situations.

The Bears secondary lost Pro Bowl strong safety Mike Brown to a season-ending foot injury five weeks ago and Sunday was also without suspended nickel cornerback Ricky Manning Jr. It was depleted even further early in the second quarter when Todd Johnson, Brown's replacement, suffered an ankle injury and did not return. Chris Harris replaced Johnson.

"The big thing is because of being down on the nickel, being down safeties, not having (Manning) available, it was a situation where we had to match up, and that was probably the best matchup," defensive coordinator Ron Rivera said. "Because the one thing you don't want to do is put a corner on a tight end, and then the tight end motions back into the backfield, so now the corner's got to be in part of the run fits. Corners don't do those things, so we were in a tough situation there."

--For the remainder of the regular season, the Bears will not face a team that currently sports a .500 or better record.

The Vikings' victory over the Cardinals on Sunday kept them alive in the NFC North with a 5-6 record heading into this week's matchup at Soldier Field. Following that, the Bears play the 5-6 Rams at St. Louis on a Monday night, then host the 3-8 Bucs, travel to Detroit to face the 2-9 Lions and finish up at home against the sub-.500 Packers. The loss to the 8-3 Patriots won't silence critics who say the Bears haven't beaten anyone of significance.

"They can keep saying whatever they want," center Olin Kreutz said. "Our goal is to win the NFC North, win the NFC and get to the playoffs. How many teams in the league could come on this three-game road trip and win two and then give New England a game at home? That's not an easy schedule. We were never really out of this thanks to our defense."

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