The failure to convert a fourth-and-1 foot early in the second quarter came back to haunt the Bears in Sunday’s overtime loss.
Michael Bush was stuffed for no gain at the Seahawks’ 15-yard line, and coach Lovie Smith blamed himself.
“Some decisions I made really hurt us early on,” said Smith, whose team held a 7-0 lead at the time. “I should have taken the field goal in a game like that. I feel like we had momentum and wanted to really kind of knock them out and get them on their heels a little bit. That was the big play of the game.”
Bush had converted 7 of 7 third-and-1 situation through the first 11 games.
“We were up 7 and it felt like we had momentum,” Smith said. “If you’re going to win and be able to get in the playoffs and play good football at this time in the season, you’ve got to be able to pick up a fourth-and-short like that.”
Asked if he thought it was a good call, quarterback Jay Cutler said: “Yeah. I’m not going to second-guess anything.”
Cutler was not asked for his input on the decision, but said every situation is different.
“You have to play smart,” he said. “It depends on how your offensive line is doing, how well you’re running the ball, whether it’s a tight game, whether it’s a high-scoring game. There are a lot of things that go into it.”
The 245-pound Bush was signed as a free agent in the off-season for just such short-yardage occasions, and he leads the Bears with 5 rushing touchdowns.
“That’s what I’m here for,” he said. “That’s my job. I just try to push the pile. It didn’t work, so it’s a problem. I run hard, it just didn’t work.”
Staying on line:
The offensive line opened with the same alignment it had at the end of last weeks’ game — J’Marcus Webb at left tackle, Edwin Williams at left guard, Roberto Garza at center, Game Carimi at right guard and Jonathan Scott at right tackle.
“I felt they did an OK job,” coach Lovie Smith said. “We did what we needed to do to stay in the game.”
The line allowed just 1 sack and paved the way for 132 rushing yards on 32 attempts, a 4.1-yard average.
”They played OK,” quarterback Jay Cutler said. “They could still anchor a little better. But they’re giving me time.”
Carimi was making his first-ever start at guard after losing his job at right tackle after 10 games.
“I felt all right in there,” he said. “You play the man against you no matter what it is. So, it’s just man up and play that position. I don’t know — until I watch the film — how well I did. Just keep on trucking here. Seems like the protection was on point. So just keep on trying to even make it better.”
Like many NFL teams, the Bears’ injuries are beginning to pile up and take a toll.
Matt Forte (sprained ankle) was able to start at running back but was limited to 66 yards on 21 carries. He has not had a carry of longer than 10 yards in his last 72 carries, although he did make a nifty, sliding, 12-yard TD grab Sunday.
Weak-side linebacker Lance Briggs (ankle), who has missed just four games in 10 seasons, started at weak-side linebacker and had 5 solo tackles against the Seahawks.
But middle linebacker Brian Urlacher could not finish the game after suffering a hamstring injury in overtime. He was replaced by Geno Hayes. Cornerback Tim Jennings also finished the game on the sidelines after suffering a shoulder injury, forcing nickel cornerback Kelvin Hayden into full-time duty and backup Zack Bowman into the game in nickel situations. Free safety Chris Conte became ill after the opening series and was replaced by Craig Steltz.
Sitting it out:
Quarterback Josh McCown, wide receivers Alshon Jeffery (knee) and Devin Hester (concussion), cornerback D.J.Moore, defensive tackle Matt Toeaina and defensive end Cheta Ozougwu were inactive Sunday.
Wide receiver Dane Sanzenbacher was active for the first time in six weeks and just the fourth time this season.Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.