Bears 10, Ravens 6
For all of the mistakes the Baltimore Ravens made in their 10-6 loss to the Chicago Bears on Sunday afternoon -- and there were many -- the Ravens still had a chance to win late in the fourth quarter. All they needed was for their defense -- their strength -- to come up with one last stop to give their offense a chance for a game-winning drive.
But on first and 10 deep in Bears territory, Chicago running back Thomas Jones scooted around the left side and darted down the sideline for a 42-yard gain, the second-longest run against the Ravens this season. Safety Will Demps tried to push Jones out of bounds, but failed and Baltimore was forced to burn a timeout. The Bears were able to hold on to the ball for the last 21/2 minutes of the game.
It was the final humiliation on a wet and dismal day at Soldier Field. The Ravens (2-4) lost their sixth consecutive road game dating from last season. Jones, a sixth-year back out of the University of Virginia, ran for 139 yards on 25 carries, becoming the first back to break the 100-yard mark against the Ravens this season. His Baltimore counterpart, Jamal Lewis, was held to just 34 yards on 15 carries.
And a season that began with talk of a Super Bowl run continued to unravel.
"That's the game. Before every team achieves a greatness, they've got to go through a time of humility. I think now's our time," defensive end Terrell Suggs said. "We've just got to play better in all phases of the game. Just all around."
The Ravens better start doing it soon. Baltimore is about to embark on its toughest stretch of the season; over the next five weeks, the Ravens face Pittsburgh (4-2) twice, Cincinnati (5-2) twice and Jacksonville (4-2) once. Three of those games are on the road, starting with a Monday night game in Pittsburgh.
But Baltimore has not shown any signs of snapping out of its funk. On Sunday, it was plagued by the same problems that have surfaced throughout its disappointing start. The Ravens were unable to run the football effectively (66 yards on 22 carries). They had difficulties protecting quarterback Anthony Wright (four sacks). Their defense, for the third time this season, failed to force a single turnover. And both sides of the ball committed costly penalties (11 for 100 yards) at the worst possible time.
Chicago's defense is among the best in the league at stopping the run (only one team -- Washington -- has rushed for more than 100 yards against the Bears this season). Still, the Ravens' inability to run was "probably the most disappointing thing," according to Coach Brian Billick. Lewis, who has yet to break 100 yards in a game this season, had little room to run, but also didn't look as explosive as he has in the past.
"Teams kind of get your number and know what you do, scheme against you. They come in to stop 31, to stop the run," said Lewis, who wears number 31. "We can try to overpower them, try to be more physical, but at the same time, we've got to balance off the offense and that's the main thing we've got to do."
Chester Taylor, Lewis's backup, entered the game with a per-carry average nearly double that of Lewis (5.8 yards to 3.0 yards). But for the first time all season, he didn't get a single touch in the first half. His first carry came midway through the fourth quarter, and he finished with just two rushes for 21 yards. When Billick was asked after the game if he would consider turning to running backs by committee, he answered with an emphatic "no."
If the Ravens' difficulty running the ball was the most disappointing thing in the loss, then their propensity for penalties was probably the most frustrating. Chicago has a rookie quarterback, Kyle Orton, and its offense is among the worst in the league. Yet the Ravens aided both of the Bears' scoring drives by committing penalties.
Late in the first quarter, Chicago put together an eight-play, 78-yard scoring drive that was capped by a nine-yard touchdown catch by fullback Marc Edwards. A 15-yard roughing the passer penalty on linebacker Adalius Thomas helped jump-start the drive, and a defensive holding call on cornerback Dale Carter on third down sustained the drive.
Then, in the third quarter, a roughing the passer call on Suggs changed an incomplete pass on third down into a 15-yard gain and first down. Chicago finished the drive with a 23-yard field goal from Robbie Gould.
"We've got to figure out how to stop getting penalties and stop killing ourselves," said Wright, who completed 18 of 32 passes for 164 yards. "We've been killing ourselves the last four losses. Until we stop doing that, it's going to continue to be tough for us."
"When you're a 2-4 football team, you go back to work and you work your way through. That's what's left of this team right now," Billick said. "What the rest of the year holds for us, we'll find out and we'll see what that means. This team will stay together, it will work and it will try to isolate the way that we can get better. That's the only approach I know how to take at this point."
Ravens Notes: Linebacker Ray Lewis left the game in the fourth quarter with a thigh injury and will undergo an MRI exam on Monday. Billick could not update Lewis's condition after the game. Lewis missed practice all week with the injury.
Fullback Alan Ricard left the game after injuring his calf in the second quarter. He will also have an MRI on Monday. . . .
Rookie wide receiver Mark Clayton, Baltimore's first-round draft pick, did not play because of a sprained ankle; Randy Hymes started in his place. The Ravens were missing two other starters, aside from Reed and Clayton: quarterback Kyle Boller (toe) and defensive end Anthony Weaver (toe). . . .
The Bears honored members of their 1985 Super Bowl champion team during halftime.