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Barber's mistakes the most glaring of many by Bears

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Dan Parr

dparr@pfwmedia.com
Associate editor

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Posted Dec. 12, 2011 @ 4:35 p.m. ET
By Dan Parr

The Bears are a full game out in the wild-card race with three games left in the regular season, and the outlook for them is bleak in the aftermath of their third consecutive loss — a 13-10 overtime collapse against the Broncos.

Understated head coach Lovie Smith admitted Monday that blowing a 10-point in the final minutes with so much on the line was one of the tougher defeats the team has dealt with since he was hired in 2004.

The Bears were on the verge of handing the Broncos their first home shutout loss in franchise history before Tim Tebow rallied his teammates, and Marion Barber offered them a helping hand along the way. First, Barber failed to stay inbounds on a run late in the fourth quarter, which gave a Denver team without any timeouts remaining about 30 extra seconds to work with — then Barber fumbled in overtime to kill a drive that could have resulted in a game-winning field goal.

Those were two inexcusable errors. Barber is taking well-deserved heat for the miscues, but one has to look beyond him to figure out why the Bears are in this predicament.

The PFW Spin

For anyone struggling to explain Tebow's success and the Broncos' comeback Sunday, don't make the situation seem more complex than it actually was. The Bears failed to execute late in the game, and their offense was stagnant throughout the whole affair.

Blame Barber. He deserves it, but don't forget about the others at fault.

Blame an offense that had 7-of-15 drives result in three-and-outs, including four in a row in the fourth quarter. The Bears' most called play Sunday was the punt — they ran it 11 times and didn't have a drive longer than 47 yards.

Blame a defense that allowed Tebow to complete 10 passes in a row — including a 10-yard TD pass to a wide-open Demaryius Thomas in the endzone — in the final 4:30 of regulation and score 10 points in the final 2:08 to tie a game the Bears appeared to have firmly in hand.

Blame a coaching staff and front office that has had four seasons to evaluate and develop Caleb Hanie, and failed miserably on both fronts.

The reality the Bears are going to acknowledge soon, if they haven't already privately, is their season peaked three weeks ago, when they defeated the Chargers to improve to 7-3. They have lost three consecutive games in which they had a chance to win late. More winnable games remain with the Seahawks and Vikings on the schedule, but there's no reason to be confident that the Bears will find a way to reverse this trend.

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