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Flagged, and flagging: Bears can't overcome 13 penalties
By Bob LeGere | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 12/13/2009 9:11 PM

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For the record, 7 of the Bears' 13 penalties Sunday were on the offense, and 4 of them occurred on first down, putting an inconsistent attack in a hole it struggled to escape.

"It's tough," quarterback Jay Cutler said. "Anytime you go first-and-15, first-and-20, you've got to get half of it back just to get to second-and-10, and then you're battling uphill again. The percentages just get lower and lower anytime that happens. But it's happened all year. That's why we haven't produced, turnovers and penalties."

Four of the 7 offensive penalties were false starts, on left guard Frank Omiyale, left tackle Chris Williams, tight end Greg Olsen and center Olin Kreutz. The other 3 were holding on Omiyale and illegal use of hands and facemask on Williams.

"We did some good things out there," Cutler said. "But turnovers, (and) we had some penalties. Every time it seems like we got going, something bad happened. It's something that's happened all year to us. It's hard to be a good offensive team when that happens."

Defensively, Tommie Harris was flagged for offsides, Zach Bowman for pass interference and Al Afalava for unnecessary roughness. There were also 3 special teams penalties. Long-snapper Pat Mannelly was called for unnecessary roughness, Darrell McClover for being ineligible downfield while covering a punt and Corey Graham for holding on a punt return.

Chasing 7 points with less than six minutes remaining, Cutler executed a perfect screen pass to Matt Forte, who picked up 16 yards. But it was wiped out by the facemask call on Williams.

"So, instead of first-and-10 about midfield, we're second-and-22," offensive coordinator Ron Turner said. "Yeah, penalties and our own mistakes hurt us."

The 13 penalties were a season worst for the Bears, who were flagged 10 times against the Steelers and 49ers.