LAKE FOREST, Ill. — The Chicago Bears let a chance to wrap up the NFC North slip away. No sense dwelling on it now.
Coach Marc Trestman would just as soon forget about what happened at Philadelphia on Sunday and focus on this week’s game against Green Bay.
A win or a tie would put the Bears in the playoffs for just the second time in seven years and take the sting off the 54-11 pounding they absorbed from the Eagles.
“I’ve got to be the voice of reason,” Trestman said on Monday. “I’ve got to see the big picture. Every coach handles themselves differently in these situations, and there’s no right way to do it for coaches because they all handle them differently. This is the way we’ve done it, trying to maintain some practicality works in this case.”
The Bears looked like they were about to bow out of the race following that demoralizing overtime loss at Minnesota three weeks ago. But after dropping six of nine, they jumped back to the top of the division with back-to-back wins over Dallas and Cleveland.
On Sunday, everything fell in line for them — until they actually lined up on the field.
With Green Bay losing to Pittsburgh and the New York Giants eliminating Detroit from contention before kickoff, Chicago had a chance to lock up the division. Instead, it comes down to this week’s finale at Soldier Field.
“We’ve got a tremendous opportunity on Sunday,” Trestman said. “As I said to the players during the week and I said yesterday, if we walked into here in the locker room in April in the first OTA and said we’d be playing for the AFC North — NFC North — on the last day of the season, we would have taken it. Now we’ve got that opportunity. We’ve got to have good amnesia.”
Against Philadelphia, the Bears got mauled from the start.
A short punt by Adam Podlesh after they went three-and-out on the game’s first possession led to a touchdown pass from Nick Foles to Riley Cooper. Devin Hester then fumbled the kickoff, and the Eagles took advantage, with LeSean McCoy running it in from the 1.
“They came to play last night, and we helped them out at the start of the game for sure,” special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis said.
From there, it all just piled up for the Bears.
They gave up 514 yards in all and an average of 8.2 per play, and the 54 points allowed were one shy of the franchise record set at Detroit on Nov. 27, 1997.
LeSean McCoy and Bryce Brown each ran for more than 100 yards, not a shocker considering it was the No. 1 rushing offense going against the league’s worst run defense. Even so, this was a big setback for Chicago, particularly with Lance Briggs back in the lineup.
The star linebacker returned after missing seven games because of a fractured shoulder. But he was nowhere near his usual explosive self.
Briggs was in for 57 plays and was credited with one tackle in his first appearance since Oct. 20.
“Lance is going to get better the more he plays,” defensive coordinator Mel Tucker said.
Did he put on weight during the time off?
“I didn’t see his conditioning to be an issue relative to how long he’s been out,” Tucker said.
Tucker also was asked if he’s thought about his own job security. Tucker is wrapping up his first year and a defense that consistently ranked among the best under former coach Lovie Smith has struggled in a big way, although age and injuries have played a huge role in the decline.
“No, I don’t,” he said. “I just stay focused on the task at hand and working to teach, motivate and develop, and work with these guys and get them ready for the next outing. And that’s really my main focus.”
In one positive from Sunday’s game, the Bears came out healthy.
“That’s a great thing at this point, that we came out clean,” Trestman said.
Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press