Lovie Smith on Monday admitted he made a mistake by not challenging the ruling on the field that Jay Cutler had not crossed the goal line before he lost a fumble Sunday on a quarterback sneak from the Redskins' 1-yard line.
It was the first time regulars at Halas Hall could remember Smith admitting a mistake, and replays clearly showed that Cutler had extended the ball across the goal line before he fumbled.
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Now that we know Smith is capable of acknowledging mistakes, the Bears' coach must, during the bye week, address the other glaring mistakes that have caused his 4-3 team to lose three of its last four games.
"You guys want to know about whether I should have thrown the red (challenge) flag on the fumble down by the end zone," Smith said during his opening monologue at Monday's post mortem.
"Yes, I should have, looking at it in hindsight. Normally if there's a critical situation, I throw it whether I have a good look or not on it. I didn't have a great look on it. (But) that was a critical play in the game. I need to be able to make that call."
On the previous play, Smith burned a timeout by challenging the ruling that Earl Bennett had not crossed the goal line before his knee hit the ground after a 48-yard pass from Cutler.
That call was upheld. Smith said he was hesitant to challenge a second straight play which, if not reversed, would have left the Bears just one timeout with just under 27 minutes left in the game.
"(I) would have liked to have had a better view of it at the time," Smith said. "But I'm just going to go with I wish I had challenged it; I didn't.
"(It was) early in the game, we had control, and we were going to have a lot more opportunities to win the football game, which we didn't. That's one play. I'd like to have that one back. There were so many opportunities that we had to still win the football game.
"I thought we were in control of the game. And we've given the opponent the ball at the 1-yard line before and forced them to punt it. I felt like we would get the ball back right away, which we did, (but) we failed to get it back down."
The Bears did get the ball right back. The defense, which played more than well enough to win, forced a three-plays-and-punt, and the offense took over at the Redskins' 47-yard line.
But that's precisely when Cutler began throwing interceptions to Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall with mind-boggling frequency four times in 21 minutes and 44 seconds.
The Bears' playcalling after Cutler's first interception can best be described as bizarre, and it has been the worst of all the mistakes the Bears have made in their current slump.
Even though Smith felt the Bears "were in control of the game," they threw the ball 18 times while running just eight times on their final five possessions. Those 8 running plays picked up 56 yards, an average of 7.0 yards per carry.
But the Bears did not run the ball one time on their final three possessions, even though they trailed by just 3 points.
That's a mistake that needs to be addressed and remedied.
Because until the Bears can develop a running game that they have confidence in and can execute effectively, they will never be in control of a game in which they lead by 4 points.
After that, they can work on their third-down offense (they're 5-for-53 in the last four-plus games), their 1-yard offense (they're now 0-for-10 from their opponents' 1-yard line, including a fumble and an interception) and their third-quarter offense (zero points).
•Follow Bob LeGere's Bears reports via Twitter@BobLeGere. Check out his blog, Bear Essentials, at DailyHerald.com.