CHICAGO | It's one thing to be soundly outplayed by a superior team.
But to simply go through the motions for 3 1/2 quarters and play like you've got a taxi waiting outside the stadium is shameful.
If the Bears had not survived Sunday's 23-22 scare by the frustrating Carolina Panthers, they should've sent an apology letter to the 62,254 fans who wasted a day at nippy Soldier Field.
The Bears played listless, uninspired football until Jay Cutler woke up late, realized what was at stake, and began earning his paycheck in comeback style.
Yes, the fans were booing, loud and often on the lakefront this day.
"You know, 'B' (Brandon Marshall) said: 'They're booing us out there.' I mean, I'd boo us, too," Cutler added. "I told our guys it was a boo-worthy performance.
"It was pathetic, offensively, what we put out there. It wasn't up to standard. We have to get better. We know that. Our fans know that."
They also knew it was going to be a long day when Cutler was sacked on the first play from scrimmage, then intercepted moments later.
Besides six sacks and two lost fumbles, he also had Carolina's Josh Norman pick off an errant two-point conversion pass and take it end zone to end zone.
Fortunately for the thousands slapping their foreheads, that's not allowed in the NFL.
If you break down film of Sunday's game and focus on the Bears' mental gaffes, you actually feel bad for Carolina. A win might've saved its season.
Instead, the Bears move to 6-1 and we can all breathe a bit easier.
"We played better in the second half," Lance Briggs said, grateful for a 16-point fourth quarter. "In seasons before, when we've done well, there have been games like this — ugly wins.
"We found a way to survive the storm."
Despite five Justin Medlock field goals.
Despite Bears' free safety Chris Conte whiffing on Brandon LaFell's 62-yard reception that set up a field goal.
Despite Conte's penalty for delivering a blow to the head of a defenseless receiver — LaFell again — that led to a second field goal.
"We didn't steal one. We were beating ourselves. We let them in the game," Conte said. "If anything, we were gonna let them steal one. Instead, we ended up winning."
What about LaFell's 62-yard catch?
"It was my fault. I should've been there. My fault," Conte said.
And that hit upside LaFell's noggin?
"You got to play football. I don't think it was a penalty," Conte said. "The officials on the field, half of 'em were saying it wasn't a penalty, then they ended up calling it."
OK. I'll say it.
The Bears were lucky Cam Newton can't throw a football in the red zone, at least not Sunday. Lucky to win despite being out-gained 416-210 in yardage.
Most of all, lucky to beat a team ranked 28th in points scored, 21st in total defense, 22nd in passing offense and with a minus-6 turnover ratio.
Good thing they play four quarters.
The Bears needed every one.
This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org