Leaky defense, missed opportunities doom Bears

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Bears vs Panthers 1012 c
The Chicago Bears promising start dissolved quickly into the same old problems against rival Green Bay. Missed scoring chances, turnovers, and a horrid defense turned a tight, offensive shootout into another lopsided Packers 38-17 victory at sun-splashed Soldier Field Sunday afternoon.

Both teams stand at 2-2, locked up with fellow division foe Minnesota in a tie in the NFC North, a game behind 3-1 Detroit.

Aaron Rodgers broke out of his mini-slump by feasting on a Bears defense missing defensive lineman Jared Allen (illness) and Jay Ratliff (concussion). Rodgers  threw four touchdown passes, two each to Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb, dissecting the Bears back seven with precision passes. It didn’t help that his uniform remained cleaned as the Bears failed to generate any pass rush.

This deflating loss will take some time to digest, yet there’s plenty of blame to spread around. After the Bears took a 17-14 lead midway through the second quarter, coach Marc Trestman and special teams coordinator Joe DeCamilis called for a risky on-side kick. Green Bay recovered, and Rodgers promplty drove the Packers down the field to retake the lead at 21-17.

With a minute remaining in the first half,  Matt Forte’s running and Jay Cutler’s passing drove the Bears to the Packers doorstep. However, with no timeouts and just nine seconds remaining in the first half, Cutler’s pass to TE Martellus Bennett was ruled just short of the goalline as time expired. Though it appeared Bennett had leaned across, replays were ruled inconclusive, leaving the Bears frustrated and trailing at the half.

The second half was worse, with two Cutler interceptions and subsequent interception returns setting up Rodgers with a short field. It didn’t take long for the Packers to break open the contest, leaving the Bears to wonder where it all went wrong.

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Start with the defense. Despite watching Detroit’s blueprint for keeping Rodgers out-of-synch last week, the Bears allowed their nemisis to continually scan the field, set his feet, and buy time for his receivers to run clear. Working the quick slants and seam patterns that are kyrptonite to the Bears defense, Rodgers found his groove, completing 22-of-28 passes for 302 yards.

Cutler’s uneven second half overshadowed his steady play in the first half, although he did miss Alshon Jeffery crossing the endzone on a second quarter drive that resulted in the Bears settling for a field goal.  In fairness, his two interceptions weren’t his fault, as one bounced off WR Josh Morgan’s pads into the waiting hands of Clay Matthews, and the other resulted from Brandon Marshall running the wrong route.  Cutler finished 22-of-34 for 256 yards and a pair of touchdowns to Jeffery and Marshall.

The Bears coaching staff also shares some blame. Trestman’s questionable clock management and onside kick leave some heads scratching. Beleaguered defensive coordinator Mel

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Tucker is either too stubborn to make in-game adjustments or sorely overrating his unit.

In a game that saw neither team attempt a punt for just the second time in NFL history, the only Bears stop came on a block field goal late in the fourth quarter when the outcome had already been decided.

Amongst a few bright spots, Forte turned in his best statistical performance, rushing for 122-yards on 23 carries. Fourth-round rookie Ka’deem Carey chipped in with 72 hard-earned yards. TE Martellus Bennett continued his strong early-season performance with nine grabs for 134-yards.

Chicago travels to face Carolina next Sunday.

Bears Beat: OL Matt Slauson and Roberto Garza missed their third straight game due to high ankle sprains…..Hall of Fame MLB Dick Butkus was on hand as an honorary captain.

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