Three weeks ago in this space, I wrote I would be happy if the Bears could finish 2-1 on their three-game East Coast road trip. I said it would be OK for the beloved to return to Soldier Field in December with a 9-2 record. I lied. Im not happy. As a matter of fact, Im angry, angry with Bears quarterback Rex Grossman.
After the Bears defeated the New York Giants, and then a week later picked up another win at the Meadowlands against the Jets, I thought they should be able to handle a talent-depleted New England Patriots. I thought Patriots quarterback Tom Brady alone wouldnt be good enough to beat the 9-1 Bears. Little did I realize, he wouldnt be alonehe also had Grossman and cornerback Asante Samuel come to his aid. The two connected for three completions. Samuel managed to pick off three of Grossmans ill-advised, errant and very poorly-thrown passes.
Middle linebacker Brian Urlacher, and many other Bears players and fans, believed this to be their biggest game of the season so far. Someone should have told Grossman. Not only did he throw the three interceptions, he also fumbled the ball away on a key play inside the red zone. Grossman cost the Bears the victory!
The Bears defense forced five turnovers, the biggest coming late in the fourth quarter. On the first play following the 2-minute warning, with the Bears trailing 17-13, and New England set up for what appeared to be at least a field goal attempt, Bears defensive back Danial Manning recovered a Corey Dillon fumble on the New England 22-yard line.
Grossman and the offense were positioned for what I hoped would be the game-winning drive. Granted, it wouldnt be easy, 78 yards to go in a minute and 52 seconds with no timeouts. Other NFL quarterbacks have done it before. I thought maybe Grossman could redeem himself and lead the team to a miracle come-from-behind victory. Boy, was I wrong.
Instead of engineering what could have been a career-defining, heroic comeback against Brady and the Patriots, Grossman ended up throwing his third completion to Samuel, and squashed any hopes of a Bears win.
New England was able to run out the remainder of the clock, and ruin what otherwise would have been a great holiday weekend.
THANKS(for)GIVING the game to the Patriots, Rex.
Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at Dougster61@aol.com.
From the Nov. 29 – Dec. 5, 2006, issue