Bear hearts bleed for Marion Barber. The Chicago running back played very well on Sunday in place of the still-hobbled Matt Forte against the Broncos in Denver, carrying the ball 27 times for 108 yards and one spectacular touchdown while also catching two passes for 32 yards. But Mr. Barber, despite his lovely hair and splenetic running style, will be remembered for what he was not able to accomplish in the land of Tim Tebow, which is stay in bounds and hold on to the ball.
The Bears had the Broncos beat. It was all over but the postgame prayer as Chicago led this offensively challenged affair, 10-0, in the fading moments of the fourth quarter when Tebow finally was able to channel his inner-Jesus and, like lepers suddenly made handsome, made his offense rise and walk into the endzone with a ten-yard TD pass to Demaryius Thomas who was so wide open he could have been mistaken for a Kardashian’s legs.
OK, it’s tough to pitch a shutout in the NFL as there have only been four so far this season. And as proud and able as the Bears’ defense normally is, and as inept as Denver’s offense had been all day, they got one in there. It happens. The Bears then had the ball with two minutes to play and, leading 10-7, all they had to do was run down the clock. Chicago likely would have punted to Denver with just a few ticks left and not even Saint Tebow could have pulled out a win (I think). But Mr. Barber, inexplicably, (howcouldaveteranplayerdothis?!!) allowed himself to get pushed out-of-bounds, stopping the clock. Awful.
The Bears punted giving the Denver Tebows the ball with a minute left which was plenty enough to get into position for Matt Prater’s 59-yard field goal which looked like it would have been good from 69 (Tebow hates that number.) Overtime.
Marion Barber’s Day in Hell Part Two:
The Bears should not have been in overtime but instead at that point in the afternoon should have been in the locker room celebrating a hard-fought victory and asking Tebow for directions to the nearest church. But here they were. They won the toss and matriculated gallantly down the field and looked like salvation would be theirs but damnation reared its obnoxious head. From Denver’s 39, Barber was breaking away, possibly for a score and certainly for a hefty gain that would have put Chicago in position for a game-winning field goal as Robbie Gould had already sailed through a 57-yarder to start the fourth. But then, ouch!, Barber fumbled, Denver’s Elvis Dumervil recovered and Tebow was in business.
A few minutes later Matt Prater kicked a 51-yard field goal and the final score read:
Normal Life 0
The Broncos have now won six straight, are 8-5, and will likely win the AFC West. The Bears have lost three straight, are 7-6, and desperately need an exorcism.
If the Bears had the services of injured quarterback Jay Cutler in this game, they would have won 31-3 and farted in John Elway’s car. If the Bears had Cutler and Forte, they would have beaten the Broncos 48-3 and converted Tebow to Rastafarianism.
But that’s not the way it is.
Tebow must be given credit. He was terrible for the first three quarters or so of this game as the Bears pressured him and wouldn’t let him run or barely even complete a pass. In fact, #15 did not complete a single pass in the second or third quarter. Not one. The Bears defense was good but Tebow was bad. So how did he end up going 21/40 for 236 yards, 1 TD, 1 int. and another miracle victory? Well, Tebow is sort of like a near-sighted sentry who doesn’t realize trouble is charging right at him until it’s right there in front of him. When the time comes to fight, he fights. In the fourth quarter and overtime he threw the ball well, was poised, looked for different receivers and just wasn’t worried about anything, was he?
Tebow can play football. He’ll never be Manning, Brady, Marino or John The Baptist but he belongs in the NFL, though I still think he’ll eventually belong as a fullback. But the Chicago Bears didn’t lose this game because of Mr. Holy. They lost because the Broncos defense is pretty good and the Bears offense without Cutler and Forte is about as threatening as Ellie Kemper.
Bears quarterback Caleb Hanie has been on Chicago’s roster for four seasons and has now had three straight starts in place of Cutler and it’s clear from all of this that he either can’t succeed at his chosen vocation or needs a lot more help. The Bears tried to aid Hanie’s cause by committing to the run with Barber and Kahlil Bell combining for 38 carries, but why did the Bears get just 10 points? Hanie finished 12/19 for 115 yards and completed passes to only four different receivers. Shouldn’t the Bears, having established the run so assuredly, have been able to take advantage of that by calling a little more play-action? Or how about dipping into Tebow’s Bible and rolling Canie out a little more, giving an athletic guy a chance to show some stuff?
I know, I know, Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz gets pilloried for making the offense too complicated so maybe the strategy was proper. The real miscue may have been that when the Bears seized a 10-0 lead early in the fourth, they, offensively, clearly thought it was over. After Gould’s field goal, the Bears went three-and-out on four straight possessions, attempting one pass that whole time. Chicago’s offense was whistling past the graveyard not realizing such action only awakened Denver’s evil spirits and the result was one of the most humiliating and unnecessary defeats the beloved Chicago Bears have ever been a party to.
Yes, Tim Tebow can go to the devil. And he can take Elvis Dumervil, Von Miller, John Fox, Matt Prater and his earrings too, but Chicago’s late-game strategy deserves to go with them. Damn it all.
The Bears still have a good defense but their offense, and their moxie, are on life-support and even if the Bears were to pull out victories next week at home against Seattle and in the final week in Minnesota, in-between they have to play a December 25 game in Green Bay against a certain 13-0 Packers team that is already typing up a screenplay for “Christmas Massacre” starring Aaron Rodgers and the Ghosts of Packers Past and Present.
Bears lovers are a little bit torn at this point over whether we even want to see the Bears win next week against the Seapigeons. A victory would be nice and keep Chicago’s suddenly slim playoff hopes alive but then that would mean we’d have to watch Christmas Day against the Packers with a sense of actual relevance, hoping for a Christmas miracle. It might be easier if Chicago loses next week and goes into Green Bay 7-7 and out of the playoff picture so that way we can put the Christmas Day game on in the background as we load up on eggnog and break up fistfights between our uncles.
No one knows what we shall receive for Christmas. No one can say what the New Year will bring. But on Chicago’s gridiron, the Season of Joy has devolved into a march into Hell. And it’s cold. And it’s lonely. And we can hear Tim Tebow laughing.