The Bald Truth
You know, if a few plays go differently in that game, the Bears only lose by 21.
Five Bears who should be most embarrassed by Sunday's 45-10 loss to the Bengals:
1. Lovie Smith. The head coach - who brazenly promoted himself to defensive coordinator/czar/guru - had to watch helplessly as his heralded gang got bent, folded, mutilated, fooled, befuddled and bamboozled. Bengals offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski seemed to know exactly what Lovie's lads were going to do on every single play. Lovie's fingerprints were all over this game - and they're all over a 3-3 team that, as usual, has been built to break Bear Country's collective heart.
2 (tie). Every Offensive & Defensive Lineman. We all could see what Jay Cutler and Matt Forte weren't doing for the Bears and what Carson Palmer and Cedric Benson were doing for the Bengals. Really, though, the skill players were relative bit players. The Bengals so dominated both lines of scrimmage it was as if they were playing Walter Payton College Prep instead of Sweetness' former team.
3. Peanut Tillman. All week long, Chad Ochocinco promised he was going to whip Peanut into butter. Then the game came, and No. 85 made Tillman look like No. 2, if you get my drift.
4. Chicago Scribes. Pretty much every voice in the Tribune and Sun-Times, including Mike Royko's ghost, forecast a Bears triumph. The prevailing logic seemed to be: The defense would be all riled up to prove that Benson's been a fluke this year; and Cutler would have a huge day. And these guys are supposed to be experts? Come on! They should be like me and be perfect with every prediction! (Um, the Cubs and White Sox did win their divisions this year, right?)
5. Brad Maynard. Well, not really. But Wanny used to like to blame Todd Sauerbrun when things went bad, so there certainly is precedent for fingering the punter.
The Balder Truth
Here was the Bears' first play from scrimmage in the ...
First Quarter: Defense allows 19-yard pass from Palmer to Ochocinco. (Palmer goes on to throw for 5 TDs, including dos to Ochocinco.)
Second Quarter: Despite a perfectly good snap from Olin Kreutz, Cutler fumbles. (Bears Savior J.C. finishes with 3 interceptions, 2 fumbles and about 30 bruises as his offensive line apparently thought it was supposed to be a night game.)
Third Quarter: Cutler passes to Earl Bennett for a 2-yard loss. (Rough day all around for the Bears' resident Vanderbiltians.)
Fourth Quarter: Benson scores on a 1-yard run. (The ex-Bear formerly known as Sled-ric pounds and scoots his way to 189 yards - and to bragging rights forever.)
So I don't want to hear that the Bears were inconsistent, because they really were paragons of consistency all day long.
"Jay Cutler really has not had a chance in this game. Unless they get better up front ... they're gonna struggle. That O-line's gotta improve." - Fox-TV analyst Tim Ryan.
The D-line, as well. Because while Cutler was getting clobbered pretty much every time he dropped back to pass, Palmer had so much time to kill in the Bengals' pocket that he could be seen filing his nails, reading biblical passages and downloading new tunes to his iPod.
Oh, and finding wide-open receivers, too.
THE BALDEST TRUTH
After Benson's TD made it 45-3, I wondered how he was going to celebrate. Would he taunt the defensive players who used to relish hitting him extra hard in practice? Did he have props stored somewhere near the end zone? Would there be an elaborate dance? Would he dive into the stands and whoop it up with fans who love him?
At first, I was mildly disappointed when he simply put the football on the ground, accepted congratulations from teammates and dropped to one knee in prayer.
Soon enough, though, he jumped to his feet and started taking a victory lap around the inside of the stadium. He waved to fans and soaked in the cheers until a teammate stopped him from rubbing it in and acting so unprofessionally.
That teammate, of course, was ...
Chad Ochocinco, Voice of Reason!