As the final seconds ticked off in the Bears' 24-7 loss to Cincinnati on Sunday at soggy Soldier Field, Thomas Jones grabbed Kyle Orton by the shoulder pads.
Contrary to any cynics' thoughts, he wasn't doing so to prevent another interception, but to relay a very important message.
Indeed, Orton's five interceptions had company, from the secondary being burned for three touchdown passes of 18 yards or more to kicker Doug Brien missing a 39-yard field-goal attempt to Mark Bradley committing a momentum-killing penalty.
Besides the upcoming weekend off affording two weeks of practice, the positive that came out of an otherwise gloomy day is that, though mistakes were made, fingers weren't pointedexcept inward.
"I'm not worried about Kyle; I'm worried about the mistakes I made," center Olin Kreutz said. "That's how everybody needs to look at it. Correct the things you did wrong, and we'll all get better."
Put another way, the Bears may have committed six turnovers, but there will be no personnel turnover, as far as coach Lovie Smith is concerned.
Hey, you measure progress where you find it.
"We're keeping our team just like it is right now," Smith said. "We had a tough loss, no more than that."
For a team well versed in quarterback controversies, there should be no doubt that the Bears are riding the moxieand the mistakesof Orton to wherever it takes them offensively.
Against Cincinnati, which became the first NFL team to intercept five passes in back-to-back games since Cleveland in 1971 and added to its league-best takeaway total, it took the Bears to the history books.
Not since Larry Rakestraw threw five interceptions against Detroit on Sept. 22, 1968, had a Bears quarterback neared the franchise record of seven, set by Zeke Bratkowski, the last rookie quarterback to start for the Bears.
"I'm not going to put this on me being young," Orton said. "I played like crap."
The scattershot ways began early, on the Bears' first play from scrimmage. Orton fired a pass slightly behind Justin Gage, who watched it carom off his hands and to linebacker Brian Simmons.
Simmons fumbled on his return, and fellow linebacker Odell Thurman recovered and advanced the ball to the Bears' 18, where the interception was upheld by video replay.
One snap later, Chad Johnson put his money where his mouth is, snaring Carson Palmer's perfectly thrown pass that split Charles Tillman and Mike Brown for a 7-0 Bengals lead.
Orton's second interception led to a 33-yard field goal by Shayne Graham and may have been his most ugly, thrown right to Keiwan Ratliff on a third-down pass to Bobby Wade.
The field-goal drive was aided by a pass-interference call on Tillman at the 2-yard line and Brown's drop of a near interception on third-and-goal.
"They confused me," Orton said. "They had a great package in.
The second pick, I came off to the sideline and told [offensive coordinator] Ron [Turner], 'They got me on that one.' They disguised a blitz and backed out. I have a lot of learning to do on film."
Bengals 24, Bears 7
Real damper at Soldier Field
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