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Defense's dirge a familiar tune
By Gene Chamberlain | Special to the Daily Herald

Ravens tight end Todd Heap steps into the end zone for a touchdown in the first quarter despite the defensive efforts of the Bears' Corey Graham, bottom, and Al Afalava.

 

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Published: 12/20/2009 10:51 PM

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BALTIMORE - The Bears defense gave up a career day to another player Sunday when quarterback Joe Flacco threw 4 touchdown passes in a 31-7 Baltimore Ravens victory.

So what else is new?

"It feels like 'Groundhog Day,' " linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer said, referring to the Bill Murray movie. "Each week I manage to convince myself by Friday and Saturday that this is going to be the week when we finally play the way that I know we should.

"And that hasn't been the case."

Flacco burned Bears cornerback Corey Graham with touchdown passes of 14 and 7 yards to tight end Todd Heap in the first half, then threw a 32-yarder against tight double coverage to wide receiver Demetrius Williams in the third quarter. He capped off a career-best passer rating of 135.6 with an 18-yard, third-quarter TD pass to veteran wide receiver Derrick Mason.

"We have been in position to make some plays," said Bears coach Lovie Smith. "It's still a playmaker's game and when you have a situation to make a play, we need to.

"As far as why (it's happening), there is a lot of reasons why. That's why you're an NFL player - paid to make plays."

Some Bears suggested they are simply snakebit this year. The touchdown catch by Williams was an example. Cornerback Charles Tillman and safety Al Afalava had Williams blanketed. He simply timed his leap better and outdueled them for the TD.

"It seems like on top of bad plays and bad execution, it's been one of those years," Hillenmeyer said. "I'd be interested to go back now and watch our games from this year and compare them to 2005 and'06 where there were so many games were everything went right. There were so many games where it seemed like everything went right. Somebody tipped the ball and it falls right in somebody's lap right in stride and they run it in and score a touchdown. Something like that has not happened a single time all year.

"The truth of that is probably that you make your breaks and we haven't been doing a good job of that."

The other TD catches were breakdowns. Cornerback Zach Bowman was beaten on a double move by Mason and Heap victimized Graham, who has the speed to cover a 6-foot-5, 245-pound tight end.

"He's a lot faster than I expected he was," Graham said. "He reminds me a lot of Greg (Olsen).

"But I've got to play my leverage to the right side and make plays and today I just wasn't making plays."

The Bears were in a run-oriented defensive look on the first TD. Graham simply got beat by Heap's speed. On the second one, he bit on a play-fake in a run situation.

"I should have just kept my eyes on the man. So I ended up getting back late," he said.

"When you make those kind of mistakes defensively, they're going to capitalize on them. Both were my fault. They were plays I've got to make."

It might have helped if the defensive line could produce a pass rush, but the Bears have 1 combined sack from their starting defensive ends over the last six games, and Sunday they lost Adewale Ogunleye for the season to a leg fracture.

"We've just got to tackle," defensive end Alex Brown said.

"We're not playing with confidence and then we're not making plays. We're in that mode where, (we're saying) 'I'm doing my job.'

"Well, do more."

A lot more.