PRO FOOTBALL

Home is where the hurt is

2013-12-29T20:30:00Z 2014-01-01T21:25:06Z Home is where the hurt isAl Hamnik al.hamnik@nwi.com, (219) 933-4154 nwitimes.com
December 29, 2013 8:30 pm  • 

CHICAGO | Dumb football just doesn't cut it in the NFL, particularly when playoffs are at stake.

You may as well spot the other team a lead.

Green Bay enjoyed a gift win Sunday, 33-28, leaving the Bears a dunce cap to wear until training camp next August.

The Packers (8-7-1) got six points off two Chicago (8-8) turnovers and another seven when its defense fell asleep late in the second quarter after Aaron Rodgers stepped back to throw and fumbled upon being sacked while the Bears stood around like fence posts.

Rodgers motioned frantically for a teammate, any teammate, to pick up the loose ball. Wide receiver Jarrett Boykin finally did, taking it 15 yards untouched for the score.

"I don't know what everybody saw, but you did see an arm coming forward and you assumed dead ball, but you've got to play until the whistle," linebacker James Anderson said.

"I don't know what you say. Guys fought hard as they could — new guys, old guys, hurt guys. No one gave up."

Regardless, it'll be the mental error that stays with this team like a foul odor the entire offseason.

Rodgers' 48-yard touchdown pass to wide-open Randall Cobb with 38 seconds to go was the knockout punch.

"Basically, we had some miscommunication on the backside," cornerback Zack Bowman said. "We all take full responsibility for it. You see what happens when everybody's not on the same page."

Free safety Chris Conte was the player assigned to Cobb, but he and other defensive players chose not to point fingers.

For the sixth time in the last seven seasons, the Bears aren't going anywhere but home.

"It's been one of those tough seasons," said Tim Jennings, another cornerback. "Man, the frustration level is extremely high. Turnovers can't get you in the playoffs.

"We had opportunities tonight to keep going but we blew it. And the ball on the ground, laying around, and we don't get it is something we can't let happen."

But they did, and those 13 points "given" to the Packers were a late Christmas gift, nicely wrapped.

"We gave up a lot of plays in the game," Jennings said. "We don't have tomorrow anymore. We'll have to sit on this a while and if you don't, you don't belong here."

The heart-wrenching defeat overshadowed Matt Forte's 110 yards rushing and three TDs — one on a pass reception — as well as Jay Cutler's 226 yards, two scores, and quarterback rating of 103.8.

Nine of the last 12 games between the Bears and Packers have been decided by eight points or less.

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