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SportsMonday: Jay Is As Jay Does

The missed 35-yard field goal attempt in the second quarter might very well have been the worst kick of Robbie Gould's career in terms of degree of difficulty (ultra-low) and the circumstances. It was as pivotal as Jay Cutler's brutal interception with his team up three midway through the fourth. Get the field goal there, take a 17-point lead, kick off to Carolina with less than 1:30 left in the second quarter, make them take possession at the 20 at best (without the momentum of a missed opposing field goal) and there would have been a great chance that last Panther drive didn't happen.

Take the glorious 17-point lead (the one that forces foes to score three times to go back in front) into the second-half and the Bears' Win Expectancy Rate (I'm just making that up as I sit here but you know what I mean) skyrockets.

But it is tough to slam the kicker for the miss because it is so rare (going into the season Gould had made 86.2 percent of his field goal attempts in his career - the third-best such number in NFL history). The same reasoning is in order regarding Matt Forte's brutal bobble, given that his overall fumble rate (per carries) has been one of the lowest in the league throughout his career.

Of course, the same does not hold true for Cutler's second pick and that is why everyone has come crashing down again on the embattled quarterback in the aftermath of the Bears' discouraging-to-say-the-least 31-24 loss to the Panthers on Sunday.

It wasn't just that Cutler threw another second-half interception. It was that it was such a bad pass at such a bad time. The defense had been on a roll, forcing three straight punts on the Panthers' three previous possessions. If the offense could have just avoided giving the Panthers offense short fields in their final few possessions, there was plenty of reason to believe the defense could have closed this one out.

But no, lightning-rod Jay found another way to ensure he would take the vast majority of the blame for a loss that is a sizable setback for the now 2-3 Bears. He didn't quite take complete ownership of the gaffe after the game, talking about how "we" have to stop committing second-half turnovers and that "high passes down the middle are never good." But he didn't piss anyone off either. I suppose that's a tiny bit of progress.

Just once you would love the guy to say something like "I just want the fans to know that no one feels worse than I do when I throw passes like that. All I can say is that I will work even harder in the coming week to be better. And I will donate three-quarters of my salary to starving kids in Africa." Yeah, that would be good.

And now, as Bill Belichick would say, and say, and say "It is on to (Atlanta)." Or it is after a few notes:

* Another week, another set of ridiculous personal foul penalties. What the hell were those "blind side block" calls? So guys who want to make blocks out in the open field now have to stop and assess whether the people they want to block are aware enough of the pending contact? Really?

Perhaps the Bears coverage units can adopt a strategy along the lines of once a guy realizes he can't make a tackle, just stand there facing mostly away from opposing players, enticing them to make contact with you and then flopping like nobody's business if they come anywhere near. It would be better than what they have going at this point.

Can anyone else recall seeing calls like that ever in a previous Bears game?

* Pass protection held up quite nicely until the very end. It is becoming more and more apparent that Michael Ola was a major find, as the rookie free agent has now filled in capably at two different positions along the line. Of course, that just makes the losses worse: the Bears now have enough offensive line depth to give themselves a chance even when three guys go down in four weeks. And yet they are still 2-3.

* Local player alert! There was Jason Avant, still making his way in the league after more than a decade of professional pass-catching. The Far South Side Carver alum starred as a wide receiver at Michigan way back when and then was a solid option for Donovan McNabb in Philly for many years before he became a journeyman the past few seasons. It is always great to see a Chicago Public School grad still making plays long after most players have bowed out.

And it is certainly more fun to think about Avant at this point than the home team's receivers.

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The New Urlacher

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He Is Who He Is

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See also:
* Arkush: Bears Woes Start With Cutler.

"After getting torn apart by Packers' quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the defense had three takeaways, two sacks and seven pass breakups, which included consecutively tipped passes by rookie tackle Ego Ferguson. Newton had a 69.7 passer rating in the first half.

"Now, Newton isn't Rodgers. But the defense, which lost starters Chris Conte (concussion) and Bostic (linebacker), still held the Panthers to a season-best 321 total net yards and forced five punts, including three consecutive in the fourth quarter when the Bears led 24-21 . . . Five of the Bears' 13 touchdowns on offense have come after defensive takeaways."

* Fishbain: Second Half Dooms Bears Again.

"Panthers safety Thomas DeCoud, who picked off a Jay Cutler pass and returned it 35 yards in the fourth quarter, told reporters that Carolina's defensive players were able to figure things out after halftime.

"'It all came to fruition in the second half, you've seen certain things before and they were repeating certain plays,' he said. 'We were able to get in position and make those plays in the second half.'"

* Wiederer: Bennett's Missed Block Winds Up Haunting Bears.

Was looking at Jumbotron.

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Jim "Coach" Coffman is our man on Mondays. He welcomes your comments.

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