Monday, December 5, 2011

Without God on your side

Posted By on 12.05.11 at 12:00 PM

Old WGN Channel 9 sportscaster Jack Brickhouse used to have a pet phrase for when things went this bad: "This is a snakebitten Cub ball club."

Yet, it's been a while since I've seen a team as snakebitten as the Bears. Just when quarterback Jay Cutler rehabilitated himself from last season's disastrous display in the National Football Conference championship game, leading the Bears to a 7-3 record and another apparent playoff berth, he broke his thumb making a tackle on an interception, in which he made a perfect throw save for Johnny Knox falling down. Backup quarterback Caleb Hanie needed no bad luck in throwing three early interceptions in the next game against the Oakland Raiders, and his attempt to lead a comeback fell short in a 25-20 loss.

Sunday's game against the Kansas City Chiefs, however, was another matter entirely. Marion Barber was wide open for an early touchdown pass, except that he lined up wrong and the play was called back for an illegal formation, meaning the Bears had to settle for a field goal—their only points of the game, as it turned out. Leading offensive threat Matt Forte was injured on a hard tackle to his right knee. Hanie later overthrew an open Earl Bennett in the end zone and was sacked on the next play to take the Bears out of field goal range. In the second half, when they were trying to rally from a 10-3 deficit, the Bears had first down and goal to go, but a penalty and a sack led to a missed field goal. In the fourth quarter, Hanie hit Roy Williams with a perfect pass at the goal line between three Kansas City defenders, but Williams bobbled it, and it deflected off two of the Chiefs before a third, Jon McGraw, caught it while all but lying on his back in the end zone.

Worst of all, at the end of the first half, after the Bears' determined defense hadn't even allowed the Chiefs to cross midfield, Kansas City finally did, with one play left before halftime. Quarterback Tyler Palko threw up a Hail Mary pass in the end zone, and the Bears' Brian Urlacher swatted it down—straight into the arms of the Chiefs' waiting Dexter McCluster. That miracle touchdown was the eventual difference in the game.

Not that the Bears didn't do plenty to deserve to lose—to drop them to 7-5 and leave their playoff hopes reeling—but when a weak opponent throws up a prayer and it's answered, it means that God's not on your side. You'd almost rather be truly snakebit.

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