In-depth analysis is no longer necessary where the Bears are concerned. Just this simple reminder:
You can't win if you can't score.
And you can't win very often scoring a field goal a game against decent teams on the road.
But here's the thing: You usually can figure on having at least a reasonable chance when you hold the opponent's star running back to 43 yards, you limit the star passer to 144 yards and you shut down their running game entirely in the first half.
What the Bears did Sunday in a 27-3 loss to the Dallas Cowboys not only dropped their record to 0-5, tied for the NFL's worst, it defied and offended the sensibilities of even the losers themselves.
"I can honestly say this is the worst feeling I've ever had in sports, period," said Raymont Harris, their single bright spot on offense. "It would be understandable if you could just pinpoint where all these problems are. But why can we do it against the same team in one half and not the other?
"You can have questions about the quarterback situation, say we don't have any downfield threat, (question) whether we have A-class-type talent on our team. Whatever, that's fine. That's your prerogative to have that opinion. But the fact is, in the first half, the same people are making plays, blocking, and in the second half it's just totally different. That's what makes it so crazy right now."
Eliminating the third and fourth quarters would help, although the league might have something to say about it. And even that would not guarantee victory with the Bears continuing to give away touchdowns at the end of the half.
In Sunday's loss, an interception thrown by Rick Mirer on the second play after an interception by Bears safety Marty Carter set up a 6-yard touchdown pass from Troy Aikman to Anthony Miller, giving the Cowboys a 7-3 lead with 4 minutes left in the second quarter.
It was all they would need.
The Bears have now gone without a touchdown since their first possession against Detroit, 11 quarters ago. They have managed just 13 points in their last three games. And Mirer has yet to engineer a touchdown drive in his seven quarters as starting quarterback and eight overall.
The Bears trailed 24-3 late in the third quarter when coach Dave Wannstedt elected to go back to Erik Kramer, who did not fare much better (7 of 16 for 57 yards and one interception) and had his nose bloodied in the process.
"That position needs to be a leadership position, one that leads by example, one that gets the job done, and we both can do better," said Mirer, who finished 11 of 21 for 62 yards with one interception.
Wannstedt said he would have to view film Monday before making a decision on who starts next week against 1-4 New Orleans. The news is not likely to interrupt your regularly scheduled programming.
"Right now it seems like we're playing so tight as a team," Kramer said. "We look like we can't overcome a mistake here or there. This is not fun at all right now."
Outside of the fact that Harris managed 120 yards on 29 carries--more than doubling the 43-yard output of the Cowboys' sagging Emmitt Smith--the Bears' offensive line shares much of the blame for the current drought. Going from battered to a genuine liability, it gave up five sacks Sunday.
"You can have Johnny Unitas back there, you can have the greatest quarterback of all time," guard Todd Burger said. "It doesn't matter if you're not blocking people, and right now we're not blocking people."
Though the game plan was somewhat more liberal than last week's, Wannstedt again tried to be safe, declining to attack aggressively after the Bears took over at their own 43 with 1 minute 6 seconds remaining in the half.
"I did not want Dallas back on the field in the half," Wannstedt explained. "That was my decision and I would do it again. We wanted to go in 7-3, regroup and make sure they understood exactly how great our defense was playing and try to get our thoughts together on offense."
The Bears' defense never had a chance.
Blitzing like crazy for the second week in a row and once again applying serious pressure on the quarterback, the defense went from spending less than 10 minutes on the field the first half to trying to hang on despite terrible field position in the second.
A 33-yard field goal by Dallas' Richie Cunningham on the opening drive of the second half did not seem disastrous at the time. But with the Bears blitzing, the roof caved in with a 26-yard scoring pass from Aikman to Michael Irvin (105 yards on six catches). Then Deion Sanders brought a punt back 83 yards for a touchdown, giving the Cowboys a 24-3 lead late in the third quarter.
"You cannot come in here and beat an excellent football team like the Dallas Cowboys and give them a 6-yard touchdown, a punt return for a touchdown and give them field position in the second half," Wannstedt said. "That's the difference in the game. I mean, that's it. I don't know what else you want to talk about."
If losing does not necessarily become harder to bear with each passing week, winning becomes more elusive, "much more difficult, physically and mentally," offensive line coach Tony Wise said.
"Obviously, teams have a very good gauge on us. With this team as it is now, when people set game plans against us . . . they look at what we're capable of and look at how the game breaks down in the second half and it doesn't take a genius to say, `Just hang in there and these people will self-destruct.'
"That's how good teams win. They don't let a team that's 0-4 come in and beat them."
The Bears' offense did not cross its own 33-yard line in the second half until the next-to-last possession of the game, and then it let a 78-yard drive peter out on downs at the Cowboys' 6.
"I'm still at a loss for words," Harris said. "I swear I thought we were going to do something good and shock everybody this week. I thought that last week also.
"But we cannot start calling people out and break it all up. We still have 11 games to go and I'm trying to win something, win at least one of them."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun