Pity Mitch Trubisky didn’t have the TVs turned off everywhere.
Bears fans who watched the Lions game Sunday on CBS-2 saw a 20-13 victory on the scoreboard and standings that felt too shaky to be very satisfying even as it ended their team’s losing streak at four and lifted the Bears from last place in the NFC North.
Another loss would not have gone down well, to be sure, but it didn’t look like much of a triumph.
That didn’t stop the Bears from celebrating. Club Dub, disco’s last refuge, returned to their postgame locker room for the first time since September.
“I'm not a bad dancer, by the way,” Ben Braunecker, who snagged an 18-yard pass from Trubisky for second-quarter Bears touchdown, told Lou Canellis on WPWR-50’s postgame show.
But away from the dance party it was hard to overlook how this game came down to the last drive and the Bears’ vaunted defense barely clinging to a lead, what with the Lions being led by backup quarterback Jeff Driskel because of Matthew Stafford’s 11th-hour pregame scratch.
Never mind that Trubisky and the offense too often made the Lions defense, the league’s 31st-ranked, look like the ’85 Bears.
This shouldn’t have been close, but the Bears started and finished weakly. They managed just one first down in their first four drives and didn’t get past their own 35-yard-line until late in the first half. Then they closed with just one first down in their final five drives.
Against the Lions.
The lowly, lousy Lions.
Which just goes to show you even winners can be losers, something worth remembering as we take our weekly look through that very prism.
The CBS analyst’s best line of the day came as coach Matt Nagy was covering his mouth with his “Be You” card while calling plays that weren’t going anywhere.
“I almost think that Nagy could put the card down and call plays,” Fouts said. “What’s he hiding, really?”
After nine games this season, it’s an excellent question.
The cheap-seats angle is fine on field goals and extra points as well as occasional replays. It flattens out the field to illustrate just how little ground the Bears are gaining. But using it for regular game coverage? No. Just no.
Fouts and Ian Eagle served up some meta commentary on the sluggish retro quality of the first half, channeling the legendary CBS announcing team of Pat Summerall and John Madden.
Eagle: “Coming up, the Verizon Halftime report. We’ve got Brent Musburger, Irv Cross, Phyllis George and Jimmy the Greek.”
Fouts: “What? What? You’re kidding.”
Eagle: “I’m having a weird 1980s CBS flashback of the Lions and Bears. It’s J.B. and the gang, the Verizon Halftime Report here on CBS — and later tonight, ‘Murder, She Wrote.'”
Fouts: “Thank you, Pat.”
Maybe Angela Lansbury’s Jessica Fletcher can solve the mystery of how the Bears, who began the season with such high hopes, turned into this.
The Lions made a late decision to punt on fourth-and-1 at their 48 in the first half, and Nagy’s Bears couldn’t get it together to either get someone in position to field the kick or call a timeout.
Not exactly the sort of thing a well-coached team does. The uncontested Lions were able to down the ball on the Bears 4.
CBS’ Eagle, in noting that Lions wide receiver Kenny Golladay graduated from Chicago’s St. Rita High School, mentioned that The Doors’ late keyboardist Ray Manzarek also was an alumnus.
As a coup de grace, Eagle later said Bears running back David Montgomery “breaks on through to the other side.”
People are strange.
“Next week,” Santos said during WPWR’s postgame program, “the Bears go to the Sunshine State. They’re going to be playing in the warmth of Los Angeles against the Rams.”
The only problem is Los Angeles is in California, which calls itself the Golden State. The Sunshine State is Florida.
This error might be overlooked except Santos used to work in L.A. for the CBS TV duopoly of KCBS and KCAL, so she ought to know. It’s like an ex-Chicagoan calling Indiana or Kentucky the Land of Lincoln.
Among those unwilling to take the Bears’ victory at face value was Hall of Famer and former Bear Dan Hampton, again spewing tough love from the start of WGN-AM 720′s postgame therapy session.
“Yeah, we won," Hampton said. "We won the game. We won a game. Finally. … We finally find a way to win after four straight losses. But this was despicable. ... How do you not put away one of the most miserable football teams on the planet Earth with a backup nobody quarterback and let them go down the field time and time and time again and have a chance to beat you? … I’m telling you, folks, there’s something really sad, sick about this team.”
Imagine if they had lost.