NFC North does Bears big favor
They say it’s better to be lucky than good.
Actually, it’s better to be in the NFC North than lucky or good, but the Bears had the best of it all Sunday.
Everything went right for them — until they actually had to play a game.
All of that was wrong as the Eagles walked up and down the field on them and took a 24-3 halftime lead before cruising to a 54-11 victory in Philadelphia.
And despite an absolute thrashing, the Bears are right where they were when the day started, sitting atop their awful division with a chance to win it and make the playoffs next week against Green Bay at home.
Before they slept through that stinker, they watched Detroit rally to score 17 straight in the second half and had a touchdown lead and the ball with only 5:03 left in the game when Matthew Stafford overthrew tight end Joseph Fauria.
The pass tipped off his hands and right to New York safety Will Hill, who returned it 38 yards for a pick-6 and a tie game.
When the Giants won in overtime on a field goal, eliminating the Lions, observers could hear cheers from inside the Bears’ closed locker room.
That was the best part of the day for the Bears.
A few minutes later in Green Bay — which was tied at 31-31 with Pittsburgh at home — QB Matt Flynn fumbled on his own 17 with 1:51 left in the game. The Packers held, but when the Steelers were about to try a field goal, Green Bay jumped offside and the Steelers had a new set of downs and eventually a touchdown.
The Packers got a good return and after just three plays with no timeouts, they were second-and-goal from the 1-yard line when a false start cost them 5 yards and a 10-second runoff. Flynn apparently didn’t know the clock was running once the ref spotted the ball and when he threw incomplete on second down, the game was over.
Once again, cheers were heard inside the Bears’ locker room.
They knew a win over the Eagles meant a division championship, but maybe that took all the steam out of the visitors because the Bears’ defense wasn’t ready for the Eagles’ highflying offense — which was hardly a shock — and the Bears’ offense did absolutely nothing to help the defense by staying on the field or scoring points.
The Eagles, who are last in the NFL in time of possession, had the ball for 17:47 of the first half to 12:13 for the Bears, and ran 37 plays to 29 for the Bears, who had an eight-play drive in the final 1:07 of the half and picked up a field goal.
The second half was merely more of the same, and the Bears made no attempt to get back into the game. The way they quit has got to be a bit of a shock to Marc Trestman, and the way Jay Cutler and the offensive line played will bring a lot more “noise” this week as the Bears prepare for an elimination game.
Nevertheless, as bad as it was Sunday night, it was only one game and the 8-7 Bears have a chance to win the division at home Sunday (3:25 p.m.) against the Packers (7-7-1).
As Christmas presents go, the Bears’ rivals gift-wrapped a couple for them Sunday afternoon, and they failed to take advantage, flying home knowing they coughed up a golden opportunity.
Still, they’re alive. They have the NFC North to thank for that.
ŸHear Barry Rozner on WSCR 670-AM and follow him @BarryRozner on Twitter.