The Bears might want to readjust their sights.
Not long ago they were aiming at the NFL’s supposed elite teams like the 49ers, Texans, Packers, Giants and Patriots.
Now the Bears have to wonder why they couldn’t beat Seattle at home on Sunday.
Not that the Seahawks are bad. Actually they’re pretty good, with a really neat little rookie quarterback named Russell Wilson.
But the Seahawks, while 7-5 overall now, came to Soldier Field with a 1-5 road record and left with a 23-17 overtime victory.
The outcome rendered Bears head coach Lovie Smith not only as close to disgusted with his team as he ever sounds. He also was as confused as ever.
When a game is decided in overtime, rarely is so much of the focus on a play early in the second quarter.
That’s where Smith’s confusion originated, however.
Leading 7-0 with a fourth-and-1 situation at the Seattle 15-yard line, Smith went for it and the Bears didn’t get it.
The Bears should have kicked a field goal to go up 10-0. First of all, 1 yard is a lot for their tattered offensive line; secondly, the Seahawks might have become dispirited with a two-possession deficit even that early.
So how did Smith feel about his decision to forsake the field goal? Hard to tell.
First he said that he made a mistake: “We should have taken the field goal.” Then he said he would repeat the error in judgment: “Would I do it again? Probably so.”
Maybe Smith has to look at the game tape.
“Yeah,” quarterback Jay Cutler said when asked whether Smith made the right call. “I’m not going to second-guess anything.”
To be fair, Smith’s head might be wobbly because the Bears are in a world of hurt — in a couple ways — heading into the final quarter of the season.
For starters, the Bears have lost three of their last four games in a haunting echo of when they lost five in a row late last season.
Then there is the matter of those mangled bodies being added Sunday to those — including Devin Hester, Chris Spencer and Lance Louis — from a week earlier.
Earl Bennett suffered a concussion against Seattle. Tim Jennings left with an ailing shoulder. Brian Urlacher’s hamstring was aching.
Right now this is one of the most unpromising, uninspiring 8-4 football teams you’d ever want to see.
Smith is known for rallying the Bears when they’re down and verging on out, though last year’s losing streak indicates his methods aren’t foolproof.
Magic needs to be woven here. Three of the Bears’ final four games are on the road and the other is at home against Green Bay.
The Packers have injury problems of their own, still have an 8-4 record and are going in the opposite direction of the Bears.
Can the Bears blow a playoff berth? A complete meltdown seemed impossible a couple weeks ago, but has been reassessed to improbable and probable is lurking if they don’t catch their balance quickly.
“Looking at the big picture,” Smith said, “we don’t have a lot of time to feel sorry for ourselves … we’re going to look at this video, take the punishment for it and go from there.”
What the Bears will see is an offense that ranks between one-dimensional and un-dimensional, and a heralded defense that collapsed at the end against Seattle.
The Bears are on the Seahawks’ level now and it’s difficult to be optimistic about either even if both make the playoffs.
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