The Chicago Bears lost to the San Francisco 49ers, 32-7, at Candlestick Park on Monday night in a game that was embarrassing, humiliating, deflating, soul-crushing, odd, uncomfortable, irreligious, illegal, lugubrious, metaphor-laden and nationally televised for all the football world to puke at.
This was less like an NFL game and more like something that happens behind the barn. At midnight. On a Tuesday.
This was like watching Keira Knightley trying to wrestle Kirstie Alley for a brownie.
My DVR began bleeding in the third quarter.
The Bears played without passion, purpose, pride or prejudice. It was unhappy. They couldn’t block, couldn’t tackle, couldn’t run, couldn’t throw, couldn’t catch, couldn’t cover and probably couldn’t spell Colin Kaepernick even if they had gotten close enough to read his jersey. He was #7, the one making his first career start and turning the vaunted Bears defense into a moldy jellybean stuck in a hobo’s ear.
Kaepernick completed 16 of 23 passes for 243 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions and admitted to reporters afterwards that he thought the Bears were only playing with seven guys on defense. Dead guys. Kaepernick’s counterpart was Jason Campbell who made his first start at QB for the Bears in place of the concussed Jay Cutler. Campbell is a decent quarterback but spent much of Monday night looking like a man with no arms or legs tossed into a bathtub of sharks and Journey fans.
Jason was sacked five and-a-half times by Niners defensive end Aldon Smith who spent so much time in Chicago’s backfield he now receives mail there.
In 90 years of Chicago Bears football there might have been games worse than this one but that’s like telling a man on death row that he just won a lifetime supply of sugarless nougat.
America hasn’t seen anything this ugly on a Monday night since “Lou Grant.”
The Bears have now lost two straight and are 7-3, which looks good on paper, but this is 2012 and no one uses paper – except for maybe the Bears. The Bears are half a team. They have a good defense – despite the San Francisco slaughter – but cannot block, and have no offensive vision, philosophy or identity. True, it’s tough to establish a plan of attack when you’re running backwards and screaming like a little girl who just watched back-to-back episodes of “Charlie Rose,” but surely they should be able to muster a more formidable scheme than “close your eyes and hope the defense forgets about us.”
The Bears cannot beat a good team and, disagreeably, there are a few of those around. In the NFC the Falcons, Packers, 49ers, Giants and Saints are all better than the Bears and the Vikings, Seahawks and even the Lions are thinking about it. Next up for the Mommy Please Make it Stops of the Midway are those 6-4 Vikings who come to Chicago playing good football and looking for someone to kick and tease.
When was the last time a city had so little confidence in a 7-3 team? It was a year ago, when the Bears also won seven of their first ten before Cutler got hurt and Chicago finished the year 8-8 and spent January home alone with the lights off sitting in the corner clutching a dirty sock and humming.
Things might have been different in San Francisco if Cutler had played. Let’s tell ourselves that as we stand in line at JCPenney trying to exchange our Gabe Carimi pajamas. (Worn only a couple of times!) It’s actually a good thing Cutler didn’t play because instead of a disaster, catastrophe and imbroglio this game might have proved permanently debilitating.
The Bears haven’t won in San Francisco since 1985 and hope they don’t have to go back until 4006.
It was only one game. That’s what the Bears have to tell themselves and ignore the reality that this really wasn’t much of a surprise. The best thing for the Bears to do going forward is to start believing their own legend. Really. They have to convince themselves that they’re good. They have to believe they are who some sanguine people thought they were. They have to give the ball to Matt Forte and Michael Bush a combined 35 times a game. They have to establish the run and eat the clock to give the offensive line some confidence and keep Messrs. Campbell and Cutler ambulatory and possibly able.
7-3 never felt so squishy.