Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Sports

December 23, 2012

NFL: Battered Bears look to desert to sustain playoff hopes

TEMPE, Ariz. — They are two teams that got off to fine starts only to see the situations disintegrate.

Both have strong defenses with a knack for taking the ball away from the opponent.

There are many similarities between the Chicago and Arizona teams that meet Sunday in the Cardinals’ final home game of the season — and one big difference.

The Bears still have hope.

A month and a half ago, Chicago was 7-1 and the class of the NFC North. After five losses in six games, the Bears need to win at Arizona on Sunday and get help from others to have a chance for a shot at a wild card spot.

“In order for us to be relevant, we have to win,” Chicago coach Lovie Smith said. “We’re aware of the path we have taken, and we accept that.”

Seattle is the wild card leader at 9-5. Chicago is among five NFC teams at 8-6. If teams win out, tiebreaker scenarios mostly don’t favor the Bears. One thing for sure, another loss could virtually end any shot for Chicago.

The frustration boiled over in the aftermath of last Sunday 21-13 home loss to Green Bay, when wide receiver Brandon Marshall demanded accountability from his teammates, while linebackers Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs complained about the team being booed by its fans.

“This is a winning team. This is a winning organization,” Marshall said later in the week, trying to explain his earlier, emotional comments. “So that’s what really frustrates me and other guys.

“When you look at what’s been going on these past few weeks. This is a winning team. You have high-character guys. You have guys that fight. You have guys that respond to adversity the right way. You have guys that work hard. So, we’re close. We’re close and we have the guys. We have the guys upstairs, in the locker room to really get it done and we just need to do it.”

The issues have been mainly on offense. Chicago has scored 17 points or fewer in the five recent losses. In his last five games, Jay Cutler has thrown for five touchdowns and six interceptions. Against the Packers, he was 12 for 21 for 135 yards.

Cutler points to injuries as the biggest reason for the Bears’ offensive problems.

“We’ve had to mix and match a lot of the offensive line, a lot of different combinations,” he said. “Alshon (Jeffery) has been hurt, Devin Hester has been hurt. Earl Bennett has been hurt. We just haven’t had a constant guy on the other side of Brandon.”

Chicago has faded to 29th in offense in the NFL. Arizona remains 32nd and last.

The Cardinals (5-9) ended a nine-game losing streak last week by beating Detroit 38-10 despite gaining just 196 yards. Chicago managed only 168 yards against Green Bay.

Which brings us to the defense, and that’s a different story.

Chicago leads the NFL in takeaways with 37. The Cardinals are fifth with 32. With three interceptions, two returned for touchdowns, against the Lions, Arizona leads the NFL with 22, one more than Chicago.

Given those statistics, turnovers could well be the deciding factor.

“Hopefully it will be no turnovers on our part, because we’ve certainly given our share of those things up,” Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “We talked about it this week already. You’ve got to preach that extra ball security. You do it every week, but this team has done a good job, I’m talking about Chicago, of getting the ball out, so you’ve got to be very aware of that.”

Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald marvels at the Bears’ ability to force fumbles, particularly the ball-stripping skills of cornerback Charles Tillman. Tillman has forced 10 fumbles.

“Tillman could definitely teach an instructional tape on how to strip the football,” Fitzgerald said. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen anybody as talented at forcing turnovers as him, and to be a cornerback? If you were a linebacker that would be a heck of a year, but playing at cornerback, that’s unbelievable. But the whole defense does it. They just have a knack for it. That’s why they’re leading the league in turnovers right now. We have to be very careful not only just throwing the ball, but we have to be careful when we actually have the ball in our hands, make sure we’re protecting it at all times.”

The Bears and Cardinals each have 36 sacks this season. Chicago has returned seven interceptions for scores. Last week against Detroit, Arizona brought back two interceptions for touchdowns. A third was brought back to the Lions 3 to set up another TD.

The Cardinals are 4-3 at home, but there will be a big contingent of Bears fans on hand for a game that might be Arizona’s last with Whisenhunt on the sideline. Team President Michael Bidwill said he will decide after the season if Whisenhunt will be back for the final year of his contract.

Chicago’s Smith, in his ninth season as Bears coach, too finds himself in what’s become a familiar role as the object of job speculation.

“I coach the same way that I’ve coached every day that I’ve been a head coach here and that’s not going to change,” Smith said. “Whether it’s during the 7-1 or during the period that we’re going through right now. I’ve been the head coach here for a long time for a reason and, again, I plan on being the coach here for a long time and winning more games and that all starts with getting a win this weekend.”

The last time the Bears came to Arizona was a memorable Monday night in 2006, when Chicago rallied to win 24-23, prompting then-Cardinals coach Dennis Green’s “They are who we thought they were” postgame meltdown.

Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP_NFL

1
Text Only
Sports
  • WNBA MVP Basketball [TGN Online] Lynx's Moore wins WNBA MVP award Minnesota's Maya Moore has won the WNBA most valuable player award after leading the league in scoring. The WNBA announced that Moore will receive the award before the Lynx host San Antonio in the opener of the Western Conference semifinals on Thursday night.

    August 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • 120928 GHS-NR FB 05 H.S. FOOTBALL: Week 1 looks to be a scorcher GOSHEN — During the Elkhart County 4-H Fair I had a chance encounter with Bob Miller, coach of the Fairfield Falcons.

    August 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • GN140821 West Noble Football Letterwinners H.S. FOOTBALL: West Noble ready to start 2014 campaign LIGONIER — The West Noble Chargers are coming off a 3-7 campaign in 2013 and have 19 letterwinners back for the upcoming season that begins on Friday with a home game against the Central Noble Cougars.

    August 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • GN140615 goshen fb practice 20 New coaches follow fathers' footsteps GOSHEN — Two of the more anticipated games of the local high school football season in recent years will take place Friday. The Goshen Redskins host the Carroll Chargers at Foreman Field in Goshen and the NorthWood Panthers travel down SR 19 to face the Jimtown Jimmies.

    August 20, 2014 2 Photos

  • SPL - PT080714 - PT Tom Lindley column - pic Another stumble begs questions about Notre Dame Not again. Not Notre Dame. Sorry, Irish fans. It’s sad but true. The stench of academic fraud — followed by a sweeping investigation — is back in the air in South Bend. With the season opener against Rice set for Aug. 30, Notre Dame finds itself with

    August 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Michigan St Notre Dame Football-6 [GOSHEN NEWS] ND FOOTBALL: WR Robinson settles into football path SOUTH BEND — At Notre Dame football media day, Corey Robinson is holding court. Peppered with questions ranging from the academic rigor of Notre Dame to what music means to him, he answers everything with a smile, and usually draws a laugh from the four or five reporters circled around him at his white table.|SOUTH BEND — At Notre Dame football media day, Corey Robinson is holding court. Peppered with questions ranging from the academic rigor of Notre Dame to what music means to him, he answers everything with a smile, and usually draws a laugh from the f

    August 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Packers Rams Football [GOSHEN NEWS] NFL: NFC North has plenty of potential for points Green Bay's grab of the NFC North for the third straight season, giving the Packers seven of the 12 titles since the division formed, was predictable.

    August 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPT GN140820 Kelly ND Media Day Notre Dame football: Kelly not changing team goals Five days ago, Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly learned that he was going to lose four players — three starters — until an investigation into alleged academic misconduct was completed. Not much has changed since then. Kelly said he has talked to the four players under investigation, and has addresses it with the team every day. But now, Kelly has to move on.|SOUTH BEND — Five days ago, Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly learned that he was going to lose four players — three starters — until an investigation into alleged academic misconduct was completed.Not much has changed since then. Kelly said he has t

    August 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • GN140820 nd media day 64 Notre Dame football: Schmidt shatters limits to become starter SOUTH BEND — Joe Schmidt doesn’t like people who tell him he can’t..

    August 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • SLIDESHOW: Notre Dame football media day

    August 19, 2014

Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
AP Video
Raw: Grief After Deadly Airstrikes in Gaza Officer Who Pointed Gun at Protesters Suspended Kathy Griffin Challenges Minaj to 'a Booty Off' Johnson: Six Arrests, No Tear Gas in Ferguson Raw: Rescue, Relief Efforts at Japan Landslide Cadavers, a Teen, and a Medical School Dream Raw: Woman Escorted From Ferguson Protests California Drought Stings Honeybees, Beekeepers Officer Who Pointed Gun at Protesters Suspended Holder Hopes to Bring Calm to Ferguson US Mission to Rescue Hostages in Syria Failed Manfred, Torre and MLB Take Ice Bucket Challenge Bank of America Reaches Record $17B Settlement Holder Reassures Ferguson Community With Visit GlobalPost CEO Remembers Foley As a Brave Man
Poll

Three Goshen elementary schools — Chandler, Chamberlain and West Goshen — are providing free meals to all students during the school year as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Community Eligibility Provision of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. Nearly 80 percent of students at Chandler, 89 percent of students at Chamberlain and 78 percent of students at West Goshen already qualify for free or reduced-price lunches based on their family income. How do you feel about the new lunch program?

I think it’s a good idea to feed all the students free of charge
I think those who can afford it should pay for their school meals
I think all students should be required to pay for their school meals
     View Results