The Chicago Bears fell victim to one of the NFL's most productive offenses in their 48-22 loss to the Washington Redskins yesterday. It was a game in which even the Bears' vaunted defense couldn't help, leaving the team's coaching staff and players slightly perplexed and looking for answers.
"The hole we dug early was just so deep, we could never get out of it," Coach Dick Jauron said. "It was 14-0 after three minutes, and that's too big of a hole for our team to dig out of."
Jauron said the Bears' early mistakes, especially Dan Wilkinson's 88-yard interception return for a touchdown that gave the Redskins a 14-0 lead, were devastating. "We made errors early, like on the long [interception] run," Jauron said. "We take the ball, drive it down the field, and the worst you're going to be is down 7-3. You end up being down 14 points instead of four. We knew we didn't want it to be a high-scoring game, because this is a high-powered [Redskins] offense."
While the Bears' offense amassed 445 yards, it failed to put the ball in the end zone in the first half, when the game was still relatively close. In the final minutes of the first quarter, the Bears were in good position to score until running back Curtis Enis lost four yards on a fourth-and-one play. That was typical of their frustration.
"We drove the ball really well," said quarterback Shane Matthews, who sat out the second half after he aggravated a hamstring injury. "If that ball doesn't get picked off and you don't get stopped on fourth and one, it may be a different game. You think that you could get one yard."
In the second half, the Bears scored 22 points behind Matthews's replacement, Cade McNown, who completed 23 of 40 passes for 272 yards and three touchdowns. He also had three interceptions. "We've got nothing to lose at that point," McNown said of his second-half performance.
"We're in a deep, deep, deep hole, so you've got to come out still swinging," he added. "You can't just turn and cower and let the clock run out."
The Bears scored their first touchdown when McNown connected on a 30-yard pass to wide receiver Marcus Robinson with 2 minutes 58 seconds remaining in the third quarter. McNown found Robinson on a 52-yard pass for the Bears' second touchdown and tight end Ryan Wetnight on a three-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.
"If there is any good news, which I can't think of hardly any after that loss, it was the second half," Jauron said. "[The Bears] could have quit, but I'm not sure there's any quit in those guys, which is a positive thing."