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Columnist
From top to bottom, a total team collapse
By Mike Imrem | Daily Herald Columnist
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Published: 10/26/2009 12:05 AM

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OK, Lovie, let's see what you have after Sunday's "Oh-my-god!" performance on the banks of the O-hi-o.

Cedric Benson's 189 rushing yards just embarrassed your defensive line. Chad Ochocinco's 118 receiving yards just embarrassed your defensive backs. Cincinnati's 448 total yards just embarrassed what this season essentially is your personal defense.

Most significant, Lovie Smith, the Bengals just embarrassed your whole team 45-10 for the worst defeat in your tenure as Bears head coach.

"It's really embarrassing," Bears quarterback Jay Cutler confirmed. "I'm embarrassed. Everybody in the locker room, players, coaches, is embarrassed."

As well they should be. The Bears made the Bengals look like the Patriots and the Bengals made the Bears look like, well, the Bungles.

The biggest surprise was that the Bears scored 10 points. The offense didn't play well enough to score at all, did it? Wait, maybe a bigger surprise was that the Bears held Cincy under 100 points. The defense didn't play well enough to do that, did it?

Smith was outcoached by Marvin Lewis, of all people. The Bengals, of all teams, were better prepared and more disciplined, more creative and more inspired.

Smith screamed at his defense publicly on the sidelines. He reportedly screamed at his players privately at halftime. He likely woke up screaming overnight at home.

"Nothing was working," Smith said of his motivational methods.

At least Smith made one correct call on this day when he said, "I didn't have my team ready to go this week."

The admission was rare because Smith rarely fails to at least have the Bears look like they had practiced during the week.

"You have to move on," Smith said.

Moving on, the best solution to the 3-3 Bears' problematic two-game losing streak is Sunday's opponent in Soldier Field: 1-6 Cleveland, which is coming off a 31-3 home loss to the Packers.

One of Smith's favorite ways to end a sentence is "and we'll go from there." Going home to play the Browns is where any team wants to go to from here.

Still, to beat Cleveland the Bears will have to resist beating themselves. If a team plays like the Bears did at Cincinnati, no opponent is a gimme, not even the Brownies.

So, yes, Smith will have to do some coaching this week, as will his entire staff of assistants. They'll have to challenge the players, and in all fairness the players should challenge the coaches, too, because this was a group loss in need of group therapy.

Each Bear will have to repair the physical, mental and emotional damage inflicted by such a devastating loss to the Bengals.

"If you really care," defensive end Alex Brown said of the loss, "it should hurt."

It doesn't get much more painful than watching a former teammate like Benson on the sideline celebrating with the crowd despite nearly a full quarter of game remaining.

"This is the NFL," Lewis said. "You don't get many of these."

Usually when a team is embarrassed like the Bears were Sunday, it comes back with renewed resolve.

However, Lovie Smith will have to do some coaching to ensure that the Bears do exactly that.