Offensively speaking, the Bears went from the penthouse to the outhouse in one game, and now there are numerous questions about the future.
While the Bears as a team were merely beaten 17-3 Sunday night, quarterbacks Jay Cutler and Todd Collins were beaten up. The Bears were sacked an unheard of 10 times, nine in the first half. Cutler was the unlucky recipient of the first-half onslaught, and somewhere along the way he suffered a concussion that prevented him from coming out for the second half. Cutler was hit so hard and so frequently that not even Bears head coach Lovie Smith was sure which blow did the damage.
"It's hard to say exactly when," Smith said. "We have to protect him more."
There's the understatement of the young season. The bigger question is how long the shell-shocked Cutler will need to recover from the damage inflicted upon him in the first half.
It may have been the cumulative effect of overwhelming and incessant pressure that the Bears were helpless to stop. Cutler was able to get rid of the ball only 11 times amid the nine sacks, and although he completed eight passes, they totaled just 42 yards. That left the Bears with minus-13 passing yards at the half and Cutler, who was picked off once, with a passer rating of 40.7.
The Bears came in undefeated but left a damaged team, despite a 3-1 record.
"We realize how it looked," Smith said, "which was bad. When you get pressure like that, it's tough to do anything."
Backup quarterback Todd Collins didn't fare any better in his first appearance as a Bear than Cutler did. He completed 4 of 11 passes for 36 yards and was intercepted once, before he, too, was driven from the game with a stinger and a passer rating of 8.1.
It's highly questionable that Cutler will be able to play against the Panthers Sunday, but Collins said he should be OK.
"My neck's a little stiff, but other than that I'm OK," Collins said. "I didn't do very well. My job is to score points and I didn't do that. I played poorly."
Asked if he would be able to play Sunday, Collins said, "I don't see why not."
In each of the previous two weeks the Bears faced intense pass-rush pressure early in the game but offensive coordinator Mike Martz made the adjustments that allowed his team to take advantage of aggressive defense. There were no such adjustments Sunday night in the prime-time embarrassment. The Bears and Martz never devised an antidote for a pass rush that came in waves and from all directions. What was different about the Giants than what the Cowboys and Packers tried to do?
"That's the question," Smith said. "Sometimes (the adjustments) just don't work."
The Lions are 0-4, but they are champing at the bit to get at the St. Louis Rams next Sunday.
"I don't know how much closer we can get to a win," said center Dominic Raiola, after the Lions were beaten by the Packers 28-26. "I guarantee you this team can't wait to get out to practice on Wednesday and to get back on the field next Sunday because it's on.
"We've got 53 guys in here that believe. We've never been this close. Say what you want but we know where we were on that field today. I looked up and I've never seen that stat board look like that at Lambeau Field."
They had 431 yards of offense to 261 for Green Bay. Shaun Hill completed 34 passes for 331 yards. Aaron Rodgers was 12 of 17 for 181. The Lions were on the wrong end of only one statistic - the final score.
"You can pinpoint the plays that keep us from winning," Raiola said. "Our offense gave them 14 points - a pick-six and a turnover deep in our own end - and we've got to score touchdowns when we get down there. We had too many field goals."
Two turnovers, 13 penalties for 102 yards and four long drives in the second half that ended in Jason Hanson field goals of 39, 52, 49 and 24 yards kept the Lions from winning their first game in Wisconsin since 1991 (20 straight losses).
"It's the same thing every week," said cornerback Chris Houston, who had one interception and another nullified by a penalty. "One or two plays and we win the game. We've got to find a way to get over the hump, somehow some way."
The one mistake that ultimately proved fatal came on the third play of the third quarter. Packers' cornerback Charles Woodson intercepted Hill's pass and returned it 38 yards for a touchdown.
It was his franchise-record eighth interception return for a touchdown, his third pick-six against the Lions in three years and it put the Lions in a 28-14 hole.
But the Lions fought back and were within two. They had the ball at the Packers' 37, fourth-and-9 with 6:32 left. Coach Jim Schwartz opted to punt rather than have Hanson try would have been a 54- or 55-yard field goal.
"The wind was significant there," Schwartz said. "That would have been a long field goal similar to the one he missed at the end of the half. It was too long for him to make and we decided to punt and pin them down. We had a lot of momentum on defense and it was a one-score game."
The Lions never got the ball back.
They played without quarterback Matthew Stafford (shoulder), wide receiver Nate Burleson (ankle) and middle linebacker DeAndre Levy (groin). By all measures, it appears Hill will start again this week.
"Shaun is a warrior and he's a competitor," Schwartz said. "I am glad he's on our team. He had some turnovers, but you look at how they happened and he made the right plays. I know there are some plays he'd like to have back but he's battling and he's keeping us in the game."
GREEN BAY PACKERS
The Packers expected to be unbeaten with one quarter of the 16-game season behind them.
To be 3-1 after four games, however, was still worth getting excited about considering how close Green Bay was to limping into the nation's capital for a Sunday matchup against the Washington Redskins with a 2-2 record.
"Don't feel like it, does it?" coach Mike McCarthy said of the winning ledger.
The Packers were breathing a little easier after they eked out a 28-26 victory over the winless Detroit Lions on Sunday, six days after they lost 20-17 at the Chicago Bears.
"Anything less than undefeated is underachieving for us right now, to be honest," linebacker Nick Barnett said. "But, I think we're fine (at) 3-1. There's not a lot of teams in the NFL right now that are (as good as) 3-1."
After a team-record 18 penalties and gaffes on special teams cost them against the Bears, the Packers nearly folded after holding a pair of 14-point leads against the Lions, who have lost 20 consecutive games in Wisconsin dating to 1992.
Green Bay committed a season-high four turnovers, including two interceptions by Aaron Rodgers and two fumbled kickoff returns by Jordy Nelson.
"We still haven't put together a complete game," defensive end Cullen Jenkins said.
McCarthy echoed the sentiment, partly attributing the inconsistencies through the first four weeks to being short-handed at some key positions.
"We've got some guys playing different positions, and we haven't hit our rhythm yet," McCarthy said. "It's no different with what every team is going through right now. I'd like to get some people healthy and get ready to go to Washington."
The Packers avoided what would have been a colossal upset loss to the Lions by running out the last 6 1/2 minutes of the game with an unusually effective run game, led by converted fullback John Kuhn, in the absence of injured Ryan Grant.
Despite that success to close out the game - and ensure the victory - Rodgers aired concerns he has about the instability of an offense that was billed as unstoppable when the season started.
"Offensively, we've got to find our identity again," said Rodgers, who was 12-for-17 for 181 yards and three touchdowns Sunday. "I think we've got to make sure that we've got our best players on the field at all times and find ways to get them the ball."