Bears open playbook, but can't close deal

Chicago mixes up offense, but only dents Ravens `D'

September 10, 2001|By Kevin Van Valkenburg | Kevin Van Valkenburg,SUN STAFF

The Chicago Bears' offense deserved plenty of style points in yesterday's 17-6 loss to the Ravens. Chicago went no-huddle at times, with five wide-outs during others, pecked away with a variety of screen passes and threw everything short of a flea flicker at Baltimore's defense in an attempt to generate some points.

"We had it designed for the Ravens and we'll be in and out of it throughout the year," said Chicago's first-year offensive coordinator, John Shoop. "We've had this plan in store for a long time, and I think we took advantage to a degree."

To a degree was an appropriate way to put it. Other than two 14-play drives in the first half that resulted in only three points - and 126 of the Bears' 183 total yards - results were hard to come by.

"We moved the ball at times, but obviously we didn't get enough big plays," said Chicago quarterback Shane Matthews. "They don't give up big plays. There's not a lot of passing lanes against those guys. They're an extremely fast defense."

A defense that, after a slow start, woke up and shut down Bears running back James Allen. While Allen holds the distinction of being the last running back to rush for over 100 yards against the Ravens, that honor came 38 games and more than two years ago. After a decent start, Allen finished with only 43 yards on the ground, including just 8 in the second half.

"I thought in the beginning they couldn't really pick up on what we were doing," Allen said. "I don't think they expected to see me out there playing wide receiver or doing some other things. The second half was a different ballgame. We had our chances, but we didn't come up with the plays."

Chicago elected to stick primarily with short passes to Allen and Marty Booker, which had solid results, if only because it limited Ray Lewis' effectiveness at the start of the game. On the game's opening drive, Matthews executed the Bears' game plan perfectly, throwing the ball six times and completing all six for 53 yards.

But after the Bears earned a first-and-goal at the Ravens' 5, they called three straight runs by Allen. The Ravens held three times, including on third-and-goal from about a foot away, forcing Chicago to settle for a 20-yard field goal by Paul Edinger

"We liked the plays that we had to run [the ball] in there," Shoop said. "Obviously we wanted to score. I wasn't trying to say, `Hey, I have to run a touchdown in.' It wasn't a pride issue or anything like that. ... We thought those were our best plays. I'm not going to second-guess myself."

In the second half, things got even tougher for Chicago, as the Bears managed only two first downs, one of them courtesy of a penalty. The offense could only muster three points, and Chicago never threatened again.

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