For the first thirty minutes, you wondered if the Bears even got off the bus.
During Sunday’s home matchup against the rudderless Buccaneers, Chicago went into halftime with a 10-0 deficit and having been severely outgained in total yards, 211-68.
Predictably, the team received an earful about their effort — or lack thereof — in the locker room, as told by running back Matt Forte.
“Basically at halftime coach was telling us that basically we just played the worst half of football and we’re only down 10 to nothing,” Forte said, via ESPN.com. “Our defense definitely kept us in the game with that. We can’t come out and lay an egg in the first half and expect to come from behind all the time. Luckily it was only 10 points. Our defense did a great job in the second half causing turnovers that we could convert into touchdowns down in the red zone. Our defense did a great job doing that and helped us win the game.”
Fortunately for the Bears, football is a game of two halves. The defense forced two key third-quarter turnovers, which culminated in a pair of rushing touchdowns for Forte, the Windy City’s workhorse. The Bears outscored the Bucs, 21-3, in the second half, eking out a 21-13 victory.
Forte was the lone bright spot on offense, finishing with 112 yards from scrimmage and an apparent sense of accountability.
“It was all on us,” Forte said. “Penalties … backing us up first-and-15 and not executing little nuances of the plays. If all 11 aren’t on the same page, sometimes the play can work but most times it won’t work. Halftime we came in and Kyle [Long] wrote on the board, ‘execute and no excuses.’ Don’t make excuses of why we didn’t do this or why we didn’t do that, just go out there and execute the plays and drive the ball down the field.”
At 5-6, the Bears remain in playoff contention, but must begin to perform up to their potential. Overcoming a first-half no-show can get them past two-win Tampa Bay. They won’t be so lucky versus a quality opponent.