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Smith, Bears not about to give up
Coach knows things won't be easy, but he says Bears will get better
By Bob LeGere | Daily Herald Staff

Despite their 4-5 record, coach Lovie Smith and the Bears remain in the playoff hunt.

 

Associated Press

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Published: 11/17/2009 12:01 AM

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At least Bears coach Lovie Smith isn't trying to rationalize his team's 4-5 record or put his own positive spin on it.

"You are what your record says," Smith said Monday. "We're a 4-5 team right now with the potential to do better. That's what we plan on doing."

That's better than what mathematically challenged former Bears defensive end Alonzo Spellman once said of a mediocre team in the 1990s: "Sure, we're 4-5, but with a couple breaks we could be 10-2."

Those numbers didn't add up, just as the Bears' turnover numbers this year don't add up to a winning season or a playoff berth.

Still, they're just 1 game out of the last playoff spot, which features a four-way tie for two spots between the Packers, Eagles, Giants and Falcons at 5-4.

At 2-4, the Bears also have a worse conference record than all four of those teams, which could come back to haunt them if a playoff spot comes down to a tiebreaker.

The Bears can make a move to remedy that situation with a victory at home Sunday over Philadelphia. The problem is that the game is again in prime time, which is when the Bears have had the majority of their turnover problems.

Eleven of Jay Cutler's 17 interceptions have come under the lights in losses to the Packers, Falcons and 49ers. At least Sunday's game is at home, unlike the first three.

The Bears are one of five teams at 4-5 dangling on the edge of the playoff precipice, and inevitably one or more will pack it in before the end of the regular season.

"I don't know about other teams, but we won't," Smith said. "We'll do better as we go through these things. That's what I see in our football team.

"I'm disappointed with where we're at right now. I didn't think we'd be here, but that's how it goes. We're in a tough battle right now, (but) there's a lot of fight left in us."

That's the sentiment coming from the players - at least publicly.

"I feel like we're strong, but we have to go out there and show it," defensive tackle Tommie Harris said. "We could talk all day, say all (that) we want to do and all this other stuff.

"(But) it just comes down to doing it."

Harris and the defense did their part in Thursday's 10-6 loss at San Francisco, limiting the 49ers to just 216 yards and 1 touchdown. But, while Cutler was being picked off five times, the Bears' defense forced just 1 turnover.

"Looking at the film, we had ways that we could have helped (the) team win on defense," Adewale Ogunleye said. "We played a pretty good game, but there were some plays we left on the field.

"If we continue to play at that level and stay consistent, the way we played against the 49ers, and get the ball bouncing our way a couple times, we should be able to finish the season on a really good note."

It remains to be seen how many victories it will take to make the postseason. The Eagles qualified as a wild-card team last year with a 9-6-1 record, but the 11-5 Patriots were left out in the cold, while the 8-8 Chargers and 9-7 Cardinals made it as division champs.

The Bears won't be able to sneak into the postseason party using that route, considering the Minnesota Vikings are 8-1, with a 4-game lead over them and a 3-game lead over second-place Green Bay.