Styf: Bears survive mistake-prone identity
There are mistakes. And there are stupid mistakes.
The Bears had plenty of both Sunday, but left with a win.
The first group are excusable to a point. The second, not so much.
The two easiest dumb moves to point out surrounded a two-point conversion after Tim Jennings' interception return for a touchdown.
They weren't ready to go for two and had to call a timeout.
Then, after Jay Cutler threw an interception on the attempt, the Bears chased Panthers defensive back Josh Norman the length of the field, even though the play was dead. In pro football, a two-point conversion can't be returned.
Maybe they knew the rule, but in the moment, they sure didn't know it. And Cutler – frustration, bad ribs and all – was the main culprit, and the most susceptible to getting thrown to the turf to ruin the Bears' year.
When asked about the lack of awareness, Lovie Smith actually broke a smile and laughed.
“What can I say? We chased him down,” he said. “It would be hard for me to say, 'Yeah, we understood it.'
“There's a lot of other things I'm going to talk about. I'm not going to go there right now.”
When you win, you can laugh it off. Or even brush it off.
Like the times Cutler held the ball too long, contributing to six first-half sacks.
And the passes his receivers dropped.
Like Robbie Gould with his game-winning field goal, they made amends. And the mistakes can be forgotten because of the win.
Gould had his own explanation for why the extra-point kicking team came on the field.
“It’s natural you go in to do your job and we looked at the scoreboard and Coach Smith wanted to go for 2,” Gould said. “Instead of 5 yards for delay of game, you want the ball at the 2. So we used a timeout to get the right personnel out there to make a play.”
That timeout could have helped the Bears get one more play and a few yards closer for Gould at the end. Closer, like the 33-yarder he missed earlier.
“I made a big mistake that could have cost us the game,” Gould said. “I’m glad I got another chance.”
He made the kick to win it. So it didn't matter.
Cutler acknowledged that he played poorly, especially in the first half. But after the final drive he really couldn't feel too bad about it.
“As long as you're winning games, you're heading in the right direction,” Cutler said. “You can find ways to fix things and stay positive and keep moving on.”
Eventually, those mistakes will catch up to them. For now, they can be happy at 6-1.
• Northwest Herald sports editor Jon Styf can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.