Defending NFC Champs Are Left to Play for Pride

By Mark Maske
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, December 7, 2007

The season of the defending NFC champion effectively ended with a dud of a performance last night at FedEx Field. The Chicago Bears had starting quarterback Rex Grossman exit the game with a knee injury, came undone with a penalty-filled performance and lost to the Washington Redskins to drop their record to 5-8 and all but fall out of contention for a wild-card playoff spot.

"People say you never think this would happen in a million years," defensive end Alex Brown said in the quiet locker room following the 24-16 defeat. "Well, a million years came this year. Everything was bad this year. It's over. It's pretty much over. . . . You have to have pride. You can't just go out there and [fake it]. We have to keep going out and try to win. Unfortunately, we haven't done too much of that this year."

Grossman suffered what probably was a season-ending injury to his left knee. Coach Lovie Smith declined to provide details but called it "serious" and added, "It didn't look good."

Backup Brian Griese took over and threw for 295 yards and a touchdown. But he also threw two interceptions. The Bears managed 60 rushing yards and were called for nine penalties. They also had to settle for three field goals by place kicker Robbie Gould, who had another attempt blocked.

"There's a lot of disappointment for our football season, of course," Smith said. "Tonight we had a lot of opportunities. . . . You can't have [so many penalties]. Normally, plays like that end up beating you, and that's what happened."

Smith refused officially to concede the competitive portion of the season was over.

"It's disappointing," he said. "It's a disappointing loss. But it's not the end of the season for us. We have more games to play."

But he acknowledged the outlook for reaching the postseason was bleak.

"Two weeks ago, we talked about having to win out," Smith said. "I thought the winner of this game still had a pretty good shot to get in the playoffs. For us, we don't know where we stand. [But] not too many teams get into the playoffs, or deserve to get in, with an 8-8 record."

The Bears had hoped for so much more after reaching the Super Bowl, where they lost to the Indianapolis Colts.

"It's tough," Griese said. "Obviously we had our goals at the beginning of the season, to go back and finish what we didn't finish last season. It's very disappointing not to be in position to do that."

Grossman was knocked from the game on the Bears' second offensive series, suffering the injury on a hit by defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin. No penalty was called on the play even though Griffin hit Grossman low. Such low hits on quarterbacks are prohibited by NFL rules, but it is possible that officials determined Griffin was blocked into Grossman.

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