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Bears sticking with Griese despite rough outing against Detroit

Different quarterback, same result. The Chicago Bears hoped Brian Griese would spark their offense.

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Different quarterback, same result.

The Chicago Bears hoped Brian Griese would spark their offense. Instead, he was no better than Rex Grossman.

Griese's performance in Sunday's 37-27 loss at Detroit probably raised as many questions as it answered, but coach Lovie Smith clarified a few issues on Monday.

"Brian is our quarterback, yes," he said when asked if Griese will start the next game.

And Smith was emphatic about something else. He won't seek an offensive consultant's help.

"No, absolutely not. Next question," he said.

There are plenty surrounding the defending NFC champions, with many centered on what was expected to be a more balanced and more prolific offense. Instead, the Bears (1-3) are staggering into this week's game at NFC North leader Green Bay.

Not only did they lose to Detroit, they appeared to lose their identity. Suddenly, the Bears became pass-happy.

Griese, making his first start with the Bears, completed 34 of 52 passes for 286 yards while throwing two touchdowns and three interceptions. That's right: 52 passes, tied for third most in team history.

"It's not a good sign when the Bears are throwing 52 times," right tackle Fred Miller said.

Why did they?

"I think that's where we're all kind of scratching our heads around here," Miller said. "We're not doing the same things that we've done. I don't think we're getting enough running calls. In the passing game, we're turning too many guys free and just making mistakes that we don't normally make, especially the offensive line. It's a little bit of everyone. I think everyone has taken responsibility for it."

The Bears were ahead 13-3 going into the fourth quarter, but the lead might have been insurmountable if Griese had not played like, well, Grossman.

Chicago had first-and-goal at the Detroit 6 in the final minute of the first half when Griese threw behind Bernard Berrian. Fernando Bryant intercepted, and the Lions entered the break trailing just 7-3.

The Bears wasted another big opportunity after Mark Anderson sacked Jon Kitna on Detroit's first drive of the second half, forcing a fumble that Brandon McGowan at the Lions 12. Once again, Griese threw a pass intended for Berrian. And once again, it wound up in Lions hands -- this time Ernie Sims picked it off.

The Lions pulled within 13-10 when Kitna hit Shaun McDonald with a 4-yard pass on the first play of the fourth quarter. Three plays later, the Lions faked a blitz, dropped into a zone and fooled Griese. Cornerback Kevin Smith jumped in front of another pass intended for Berrian and returned it 64 yards for the go-ahead touchdown.

Devin Hester's 97-yard touchdown return on the ensuing kickoff momentarily gave the Bears a three-point lead, but Detroit was on its way to an NFL record 34 points in the quarter.

Griese led the Bears on a 73-yard touchdown drive that pulled Chicago within 30-27 with less than a minute left. The Lions clinched it when Casey Fitzsimmons returned the onside kick for a touchdown.

The game ended in fitting fashion, when the Lions sacked Griese. The question is: Did they also sack the Bears?

Two years ago, Chicago dropped three of the first four, but won the division, albeit under different circumstances.

Kyle Orton was serving as a caretaker at quarterback while Grossman recovered from a broken ankle, but otherwise the Bears were healthy. The offensive line was holding its ground. The running game was productive.


"It's about how we're going to respond," Griese said. "We've got a big test coming up next week. For me, personally, I wouldn't want to have it any other way for us to get things back on track."

The Bears expected big things on offense. Instead, it's a big disappointment.

Cedric Benson continued to struggle, running for 50 yards on 15 carries against Detroit, and a veteran offensive line again showed cracks. The quarterbacks aren't helping.

Grossman forced his way out of the lineup with six interceptions and one touchdown, and Griese wasn't much better.

"I just think it's hard to find a lot of good in anything that you do if you lose the game," Smith said.

On Sunday, Chicago was missing Pro Bowl linebacker Lance Briggs (hamstring) and the entire secondary that started the season opener. Safety Mike Brown suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 1, and safety Adam Archuleta (broken hand) and cornerbacks Nathan Vasher (groin) and Charles Tillman (ankle) missed the Lions game. And left tackle John Tait hurt his ankle.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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