This time out, the defense held up its end of the bargain, just to watch Jay Cutler hurl five interceptions, which led to a 10-6 Bears defeat.
Despite a magnificent effort by the Bears D, Cutler and the offense could not capitalize on multiple opportunities to cash in. A career worst five picks from Cutler sunk Chicago to a 4-5 record, and third place in the NFC North.
The short week did not seem to affect the Chicago defense, as it stifled the Niners all night, yielding just 216 total yards. A struggling Jay Cutler could not take advantage of outstanding field position including drives that started at the San Francisco 49, Chicago 46, and midfield.
Cutler’s first error came in the Red Zone, on a third-and-goal play from the Niners one yard line. San Francisco nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin picked off a laser, ending the Bears TD drive.
The following Bears possession saw Cutler intercepted yet again, following a Devin Hester slip on his route to the ball. The Niners were able to convert the second Cutler interception to a TD, making the score 7-0. Robbie Gould would connect on a 50-yard field goal with :02 left on the first-half clock, bringing the score to 7-3.
After the break, on the Bears’ first possession, Cutler launched his third miscue. Chicago’s was then able to hold its ground, halting the Niners’ drive on a fourth-and-one stop of QB Alex Smith. Chicago would later add another Gould FG, closing the deficit to one point.
Cutler and the Bears were able to move the ball through the air on San Francisco, gaining 307 yards. Matt Forte’s career receiving night of eight catches for 120 yards was wasted though, as the fading Cutler continued to toss one interception after another.
On what would be the final drive of the game, the Chicago offense had an opportunity to take the lead, but from the Niner 12, with :08 remaining in the game, Jay Cutler made it a five-spot, missing TE Greg Olsen in the endzone. The errant pass was snagged by Niner safety Michael Lewis to end the game.
The Bears will have a couple of extra days this week to prepare for the Eagles, who visit Soldier Field next Sunday. Lovie Smith and his staff are clearly treading on thin ice now, as the once 3-1 Bears have stumble hard. The remainder of the schedule is difficult, and if Lovie cannot find a way to extract better performances out of this suddenly underachieving bunch, it may be the end of the road for the Smith administration.
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Written by Adam Becker