Rozner: New QB, same old Bears result

It would be overly simplistic to say the Bears played better because Jay Cutler was not subjecting his teammates to the weekly Cutler misery.

But it is not overstating it to say that there was a different vibe to the game without Cutler dragging it down, and the Bears did not embarrass themselves Sunday.

And that's saying something.

The fact that a lack of humiliation is something of a victory speaks to the horrific nature of the 2014 season, and the fact that Cutler played no role is merely further proof of the negative effect he has on a coaching staff, his teammates and the crowd.

That says quite a bit, actually.

Detroit (11-4) completed the 2014 sweep with a difficult 20-14 victory over the Bears (5-10) Sunday at Soldier Field, and though the Bears kept it close that was no consolation for the home team in its last Chicago game of the season.

That part, at least, is some consolation for the paying customers.

"There are no moral victories in this league," said Jared Allen, who had one of the Bears' 4 sacks. "It's been the little things all year, penalties and mistakes. You have to make plays in the NFL to win games."

Jimmy Clausen did just what you would expect a backup quarterback to do, and maybe a bit more, but when they needed a game-winning drive in the final minutes, he looked like the career backup he's destined to be.

He also suffered from 7 dropped passes, something Cutler knows all too well.

"He's a fiery guy, man," said center Roberto Garza. "He was into the game all day, trying to make plays. He played well. He's the reason we were in this game."

It helped that Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford threw 2 red-zone interceptions that cost Detroit at least 6 points, the Bears blocked a field goal, and the home team got 2 touchdowns after a muffed punt and a roughing-the-punter call.

That's a 23-point swing right there. Nevertheless, the Bears made some plays and looked remarkably like a football team Sunday despite being riddled with injuries.

"I'm proud of the way this group fought today," said safety Ryan Mundy, who had one of those Stafford picks. "It was a different feel defensively."

If you're desperate for a bright side, the Bears got some good work from the younger players on defense, like linebacker Christian Jones (team-leading 11 tackles), defensive end David Bass (sack) and safety Brock Vereen (5 tackles, interception, pass defense).

"We just got after them. We were excited to play," Jones said. "We switched up some coverages and they didn't expect it when we went from zone to man.

"It felt good to make some plays. We did some good things, but it's overshadowed because we lost."

Yeah, no one was popping champagne corks because the Bears were able to hang around Sunday.

"Not where we want to be," said Jeremiah Ratliff, who had a sack. "Young guys played hard and that was great, brought some energy. We'll stick together."

Does it offer any hope for the future?

"If you lose hope, that's on you," Ratliff said. "It's not gonna happen in here."

The hope is that there's a housecleaning, something we'll probably find out a week from now.

"We'll just see what happens. That's not up to me," Garza said. "One more game to go. I've loved my time here and I hope it's not over, but that's also not up to me."

Certain to be replayed all week is the highlight of Clausen sticking up for himself and firing f-bombs after a vicious hit to the head from Ezekiel Ansah late in the game.

"I respect that," Ratliff said. "If it goes down, we're all in, right?"

While entertaining, it did not salvage the final drive. And though Clausen looked confident and was more careful with the ball than Cutler generally is, it all added up to another defeat.

"I've played with Jay for a long time. It's hard, but you have a job to do and Jimmy came in and took control," Garza said. "He executed well, but at the end of the day we scored 14 points. It is what it is. It's not enough."

No, it wasn't enough, but it was a different look and it was the most engaged the fans have been for months.

"The only thing I was trying to do was play how I've played my whole, entire life," Clausen said. "Just go out there and have fun with the whole thing.

"I told the guys before the game, 'Let's just go out and have fun. Just play like you're in the backyard, like you played in high school and college. Have fun and let the score take care of itself.' "

Once again, the Bears were on the wrong end of that score, but take solace in knowing that the 2014 season has to end next Sunday.

There isn't anyone in Chicago sorry about that.

• Hear Barry Rozner on WSCR 670-AM and follow him @BarryRozner on Twitter.

  Bears quarterback Jay Cutler whispers to Jimmy Clausen after the Bears' last possession in the loss to the Detroit Lions on Sunday at Soldier Field in Chicago. John Starks/
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