- Created on 03 December 2012
The Bears' might have many sleepless nights this week after an emotional 24-17 loss to the Seattle Seahawks Sunday, dropping the team's record to 8-4 and tying them with the Green Bay Packers for first place in the NFC North.
The team will now try to develop a case of amnesia in order to prepare for the next game in Minnesota against the 6-6 Vikings on Sunday.
The Bears looked to be in control in the first half of the game, gaining momentum and looking smooth on offense. Connections between Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall resulted in the Pro Bowl receiver going into the half with seven catches for 94 yards, edging closer to the Bears' record for catches and yards for a receiver.
After the first quarter, the Bears looked on there way to an easy victory with a 7-0 lead, but a costly decision in the second quarter is leading many fans to look for answers from the Bears coaching staff.
Head coach Lovie Smith decided to attempt a run in the second quarter on 4th down when the Bears were up 7-0, but failed to convert the first down, shifting momentum back to the Seahawks.
"That hasn't happened to us very often around here," said Smith. "Some decisions I made really hurt us early on. We should've taken the field goal in a game like that."
Despite the loss, Cutler finished the game with 17-of-26 passes completed for 233 yards and two touchdowns, putting together an impressive performance that was overshadowed by the less than stellar effort by the usually reliable Bears defense. Cutler still believes the offense could've done better.
"We don't lose many games like that here, having a lead in the fourth quarter," Cutler said. "Offensively, we could've done a better job, not put ourselves in that position."
The defense allowed rookie quarterback Russell Wilson to orchestrate a 97-yard drive, leading to the Seahawks taking a 17-14 lead with 24 seconds to play in the fourth quarter. Following a miracle pass from Jay Cutler that landed in Brandon Marshall's hands in the next possession, the Bears
tied the game on a 46-yard field goal from Robbie Gould as time expired,sending the game to overtime.
The Seahawks won the toss and elected to receive the ball, sending the exhausted defense back on the field in an effort to stop the Seahawks attack. Russell Wilson, however, had other plans, as he led an 80-yard touchdown drive that ended with a 13-yard pass to Sidney Rice.
Wilson ended the game completing 23 of 32 passes for 293 yards and two touchdowns, also carrying the ball for 71 yards.
"Thank God we have more games to play to get this bad taste out of our mouths," Smith said.
The Bears played without return specialist Devin Hester who is still dealing with a concussion. Brian Urlacher left the game in overtime as a result of what the team is calling a sore hamstring while Tim Jennings left the game for a shoulder injury in the same period. Earl Bennett also left the game as a result of a concussion.a
- Created on 03 December 2012
(AP) — Richard Hamilton wasn't sure he was healthy enough to return to the game.
It didn't matter, he was going back on the floor for the Chicago Bulls.
Hamilton left the game in the third quarter with a left ankle injury, then returned to hit three of four free throws in the final 20 seconds to clinch a 93-88 win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday night.
Luol Deng scored a game-high 25 points. He also had a season-high seven assists and has led the team in scoring in consecutive games. He scored 22 in a 101-78 win over the Dallas Mavericks.
Hamilton finished with 15 points for the Bulls, who played the 76ers for the first time since last season's first-round playoff series.
Hamilton went down with a little more than three minutes left in the third quarter after elevating off the ground while on offense. Kirk Hinrich and Deng helped him as he limped off the floor.
"As soon as I came up off my feet, I felt something on the bottom of my foot," Hamilton said.
"I felt something pop."
Hamilton did not receive X-rays, but said he is scheduled for an MRI on Sunday.
"When Rip (Hamilton) came back, (team trainer) Fred Tedeschi said we could use him if needed," coach Tom Thibodeau said. "We needed him ... we wanted him out there for the free throw situation."
Pending the MRI, the decision worked out well for Thibodeau and the Bulls.
After missing the second of his first pair of free throws, Hamilton was fouled after grabbing the loose ball batted away by Joakim Noah and made his next two.
"I should have had Thad (Young) and Evan (Turner) pinching on Noah and Evan got caught over there on him, so that was my mistake," 76ers coach Doug Collins said.
Chicago (8-7) outrebounded Philadelphia 50-37, including 13 rebounds for Noah and 12 for Carlos Boozer.
Noah had 12 points and seven assists and Boozer had 12 points, giving him double-doubles in six of his past eight games.
Jrue Holiday led the 76ers with 23 points. Thaddeus Young added 22 points and seven rebounds.
"There were a lot of loose balls, 50-50 balls that we should have got," Holiday said. "I think there were lots of plays on defense we missed at critical times. It kind of comes down to the details."
Philadelphia, which had won three straight and seven of nine overall, failed to reach 100 points for just the second time in six games. The Sixers have won three in a row three times this season, but have not been able to win a fourth.
Philadelphia (10-7) shot just 27.3 percent from long range and 43.8 percent from the field overall. Chicago moved to 6-0 when holding teams to fewer than 90 points.
"The thing for us is to concentrate on improvement," Thibodeau said. "We are moving in the right direction. We are still not a 48-minute team. There were stretches where we played well defensively, we have to do it consistently throughout the game."
The Bulls downplayed talk of the rematch from last season's early playoff exit throughout the week. But the memory clearly lingered with fans, who showered the Sixers with boos during introductions.
The Bulls lost reigning MVP Derrick Rose to a torn anterior cruciate ligament in the final 90 seconds of a Game 1 win over the 76ers. Chicago exited the first round in six games, just the fifth time in NBA history a No. 8 seed knocked off the No. 1 seed. Rose had surgery to repair his left knee in May and has been rehabbing since.
Philadelphia jumped out to an early 13-6 lead before the Bulls found a rhythm on offense.
Deng assisted Noah on a big first-quarter dunk to bring Chicago within two points, then was on the receiving end two possessions later with a dunk to tie it at 17.
Deng scored Chicago's final seven points of the first quarter to contribute to a 21-6 Bulls run.
Philadelphia regained the lead with a minute left in the second half on Evan Turner's fading leaner in the lane. Following another dunk by Noah, Holiday hit one of two free throws with 1.3 seconds left to send it to halftime tied at 41.
Notes: 76ers guard Nick Young (left great toe hyperextension) was inactive. ... Turner reached double digits in scoring for a ninth straight game, extending his career high.
- Created on 29 November 2012
(AP) — Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau preaches 48 minutes of effort to his team. He didn't quite get that against the Mavericks on Wednesday night, but it was much better than the last time out.
Luol Deng had 22 points and six rebounds as Chicago cruised to a 101-78 victory over the Dallas Mavericks.
Five players scored at least 11 points to help the Bulls (7-7) beat the Mavericks for the fourth straight time. Chicago recovered from a 93-92 loss to Milwaukee on Monday, in which it blew a 27-point third-quarter lead, largely due to the proficiency of its reserves.
"The bench was great," Thibodeau said. "The starters got us out to a good start. We needed everybody."
Nate Robinson had 14 points and a game-high six assists for Chicago, and fellow reserve Jimmy Butler scored a career-high 13, including 9-of-10 shooting from the free throw line.
"I feel like we're coming together, getting more comfortable out there," Butler said. "They tell us all the time that you have to keep building that lead, but it definitely shows that any night, any team — 20 down, 10 down — they can come back and win the game."
The Bulls' bench combined for a season-high 50 points.
Joakim Noah chipped in 13 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and three blocks as Chicago avoided its first three-game losing streak at the United Center since dropping five straight in March 2010.
"It was good to come out and forget that last loss and move forward as a team," said Bulls reserve Taj Gibson, who had eight points and eight rebounds. "We understand we have a long season. There's going to be a lot of bumps in the road, but we're sticking together."
Shawn Marion scored a season-high 18 points for Dallas, which shot just 35 percent to lose for the eighth time in 11 games. The Mavericks (7-9), who had won 21 of 27 against Chicago, dropped to 2-6 on the road.
"I loved our start to the game, but they kept chipping away and they cut the deficit, they took the lead, and our response wasn't good," coach Rick Carlisle said. "No excuses. We played last night and all that, but we just have to do a better job."
Both teams were coming off difficult losses. The Mavericks lost 100-98 at Philadelphia on Tuesday when O.J. Mayo missed a pair of free throws with 2.7 seconds left. The Bulls had a 78-51 lead in Monday's loss before the Bucks broke off a game-changing 31-4 run.
"We've got to show a collective caring for one another and a collective toughness," Carlisle said. "We're entering a really difficult stretch of our schedule. Nothing's going to be easy. We've got to embrace that challenge."
Dallas closed within six with 2:30 to go in the third Wednesday but after a timeout, Deng hit a 3-pointer and Robinson scored on a drive to give Chicago its biggest lead, 77-56.
The Bulls pushed the lead to 29 in the fourth quarter and never led by fewer than 17.
"Overall, I thought we played a lot tougher with the lead," Thibodeau said.
The crowd roared to life in the closing minutes as Chicago neared 100 points, meaning a free sandwich for everyone in attendance. Nazr Mohammed's dunk did the trick, eliciting a huge roar from the remaining fans.
Chicago's reserves keyed a second-quarter spurt to open the game. After Rodrigue Beaubois' 3 cut the lead to 31-28, Chicago went on a 13-0 run and outscored Dallas 18-2 over the next 4:40.
Dallas' leading scorer, Mayo, was held to a season-low four points on 2-for-9 shooting. He entered the game averaging 20.8 points and had scored in double digits in each of the Mavs' first 15 games. It was just the second time in his NBA career that Mayo scored four or fewer points while playing 30 or more minutes.
"Here's the thing — we caught a break," Thibodeau said. "They're missing (Darren) Collison and Dirk (Nowitzki) and they played last night. And Mayo is dinged up with an ankle injury."
NOTES: Collison was inactive because of a sprained right middle finger. The point guard has struggled recently in his first season with Dallas, shooting 35 percent over his last seven games and averaging 3.0 turnovers per contest. Collison started 14 of Dallas' first 15 games, coming off the bench for the first time this season in Saturday's loss to Philadelphia. He has been replaced in the starting lineup by third-year point guard Dominique Jones. ... Each team took the floor with its best player still rehabbing from knee surgery. Neither Chicago's Derrick Rose (left knee) nor Nowitzki (right knee), both former NBA MVPs, were at the game. ... Mayo is averaging 24.3 points on 52 percent shooting at home, but just 15.3 points on 40.6 percent shooting on the road.
- Created on 30 November 2012
(AP) — The Chicago Bears' belief that they have the depth to withstand injuries is being tested.
They officially ruled out return specialist and receiver Devin Hester and guard Chris Spencer for Sunday's game against Seattle.
The good news is that linebacker Lance Briggs and running back Matt Forte made it clear they expect to be ready after injuring ankles against Minnesota, meaning the banged-up Bears will likely have at least two of their star players available.
Asked after practice on Thursday if he expects to play this week, Forte said, "I do."
Briggs made a similar vow earlier in the day. He's missed just four games in 10 seasons and has no intention of adding to that total this week.
"Four games. I don't plan on missing this week, either," the seven-time Pro Bowl linebacker said.
Briggs and Forte practiced Thursday on a limited basis, as did star cornerback Charles Tillman, who left the Vikings game with an ankle injury.
"They're backbones of our defense, part of it," defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli said, referring to Tillman and Briggs. "Just great players, Pro Bowl players. It's important and their leadership is so important."
The fact that they were back practicing certainly was a good sign. While Tillman did not make himself available for comment, Briggs had plenty to say during his weekly session at the podium with reporters.
"I feel good," he said. "Getting better every day. Modern medicine."
Sitting out is something Briggs rarely does. He missed two games in 2007 and one each in 2009 and 2010, but mostly he's been durable during his career.
The same goes for Forte, who hadn't missed a game until he sat out the final four last season because of a sprained medial collateral ligament in his right knee. He also missed one early this year because of a sprained right ankle.
Even if they get Briggs, Forte and Tillman back, the Bears (8-3) will still be short-handed as they try at least to maintain their one-game lead over Green Bay in the NFC North.
They had to scramble on the offensive line this week after losing both starting guards against the Vikings. Besides Spencer going down, they lost right guard Lance Louis for the remainder of the season to a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.
Gabe Carimi, who filled in at right guard for the first time once Louis went down, figures to get the nod there. The Bears could go with Edwin Williams at left guard for Spencer.
Either way, Forte said, running behind a revamped line won't change his approach.
"I've just got to trust those guys up front," he said. "They're getting a lot of reps in practice right now so they know what to do in the game, and if we make mistakes in the game, go to the sideline and make adjustments so that we don't continue to make them."
The offensive line play has been a big issue for the Bears all season. They made some changes following an ugly loss at San Francisco two weeks ago, with Carimi losing his starting job at right tackle to Jonathan Scott. Chilo Rachal left the team, and Spencer stepped back into a starting role at left guard before going down.
The blocking is a big reason why the Bears' offense ranks 30th overall, certainly not what they envisioned after trading for star receiver Brandon Marshall.
They've strayed from the run at times, although that wasn't the case against Minnesota. They rushed 39 times in that game, and that commitment helped open up the passing game even if they managed just 113 yards rushing.
The defense appears to be in better shape at the moment.
Even if Tillman or Briggs is unable to play, the Bears believe they have enough star power and depth to get by at least in the short term.
"I feel good about it," linebacker Brian Urlacher said. "We've got good backups. Kelvin (Hayden) did a good job last week when Peanut (Tillman) went out. Up front we're deep. At linebacker we made some good moves in the offseason. ... So I feel all right about our depth in most positions."
- Created on 28 November 2012
(AP) — Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa are listed on the baseball Hall of Fame ballot for the first time, setting up an election sure to become a referendum on the Steroids Era.
The 37-player ballot was announced Wednesday.
More than 600 longtime members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America will vote through next month. Candidates need 75 percent for induction, and the results will be announced Jan. 9.
Bonds is the all-time home run champion with 762 and won a record seven MVP awards. Clemens set a record with seven Cy Young trophies and Sosa hit 609 homers. The voters will now decide whether drug allegations that tainted their huge numbers should keep them out of Cooperstown.
Craig Biggio, Mike Piazza and Curt Schilling are among the 24 first-time eligibles. Jack Morris, Jeff Bagwell and Tim Raines are the top holdover candidates.
The upcoming election is certain to fuel the most polarizing Hall discussion since career hits leader Pete Rose's betting troubles put him on baseball's permanently ineligible list, barring him from the BBWAA ballot.
While many continued to debate whether Rose should be enshrined, it was moot because there is currently no way he can be considered.
On deck, though, are some of the game's biggest names — along with a lot of the sport's biggest baggage.
Bonds, Clemens and Sosa each posted monster statistics, though their accomplishments were shadowed by accusations they used performance-enhancing drugs. And as baseball keeps trying to rid itself of PEDs, their impact on HRs, RBIs and Ws remains a prickly problem.
Bonds was baseball's premier slugger on his generation and Clemens ranks ninth in career wins with 354. Sosa is eighth on the home run chart with 609.
Fans, players and Hall of Fame members have all chimed in about whether stars who supposedly juiced up should make it to Cooperstown.
Many of those opposed say drug cheats should never be afforded baseball's highest individual honors. Others on the opposite side claim the use of PEDs was pervasive in the 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s, and shouldn't disqualify candidates.
If recent voting for the Hall is any indication, the odds are solidly stacked against Bonds, Clemens and Sosa.
Mark McGwire is 10th on the career home run list with 583, but has never received even 24 percent in his six tries. Big Mac has admitted to using steroids and human growth hormone.
Rafael Palmeiro is among only four players with 500 homers and 3,000 hits, yet has gotten a high of 12.6 percent in his two years on the ballot. Palmeiro drew a 10-day suspension in 2005 after a positive test for performance-enhancing drugs, and said the result was due to a vitamin vial given to him by teammate Miguel Tejada.
Biggio topped the 3,000-hit mark — which always has been considered an automatic credential for Cooperstown — and spent his entire career with the Houston Astros.
Schilling was 216-146 and won three World Series championships, including his "bloody sock" performance for the Boston Red Sox in 2004.