Why the Bears aren't a 'pretty good team' just yet
A really good football team would have found a way to complete an improbable, come-from-behind upset of the defending NFC champion Atlanta Falcons when it had first-and-goal at the five-yard line.
The Bears aren't that team.
They trailed 23-17 with 21 seconds remaining, and the sun-drenched home crowd was ecstatic, sensing an unforgettable finish. But quarterback Mike Glennon threw 3 straight incomplete passes and was sacked on fourth down, letting the air out of 61,857 attending the season opener at Soldier Field.
"What I told the team in the locker room is, 'That is a really good football team we played today,'" Bears coach John Fox said. "I think, right now, we're a pretty good football team."
Key words? "Pretty" and "good."
A really good team would have had more than 22 passing yards through the first three quarters, and its wide receivers would have had more than 2 catches.
"It was a tough way to lose," said Glennon, who completed 26 of 40 passes for 213 yards, 1 TD and no interceptions for an 86.8 passer rating. "We ran the ball well and threw the ball well in the fourth quarter, but it's definitely a tough one to swallow to not finish that drive at the end."
A really good team would not have allowed Falcons tight end Austin Hooper to catch 2 passes for 128 yards in the fourth quarter, including an 88-yard TD.
The Bears were trailing just 13-10 and had the Falcons backed up to their own 12-yard line facing third-and-3. Pre-snap, the Bears' defense appeared discombobulated, and Hooper found himself at midfield with no Bears defender within 10 yards of him. He had time to wait for the ball and then stiff-armed late-arriving Bears safety Quintin Demps into the turf before running the final 30 yards for the score.
"I played bad football," Demps said. "I have to be in the middle of the field."
The Bears held the Falcons to 23 points and 372 total yards, both below last year's averaged of 33.8 points and 416 yards.
"It showed we can be a really, really good defense for three quarters," Demps said. "We have to finish. We have to execute better in the fourth quarter."
On the Falcons' long TD, Fox said: "I think we had miscommunication on the call. The particular call we played was not the call that we called. But I'm not going to throw people under the bus, obviously. We didn't execute very well."
A really good team would have been on the same page -- or at least called a timeout when in disarray.
"We didn't really think we were in disarray," Fox said. "We didn't realize we were in disarray until (Hooper) caught the ball."
The Bears' offense moved the ball impressively in the fourth quarter, once it opened up the playbook, or, once the Falcons started playing soft, prevent defense, depending on your viewpoint. The Bears produced 154 fourth-quarter yards, more than half of their total of 301.
Tight end Zach Miller, whose back-to-back 12- and 11-yard catches got the Bears to the Falcons' five-yard line in the closing seconds, said the offense was confident throughout.
"It was just there, and it was steady the entire game," Miller said. "We knew when it was 23-17, the belief was, 'We're gonna score, and we're gonna win this thing 24-23. I was sitting on the sidelines talking about it. It was there. Just didn't play out the way we needed it to."
It would have for a really good team.
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