Can the Bears, who have lost three in a row to negate their 6-2 start, turn it around? "I wish I had an answer," Wannstedt said. "I've exhausted everything I can think of to make us a better team."
Take the punting. In the Bears' first 10 games, rookie Todd Sauerbrun (a second-round pick, no less) averaged an NFL-low 38.6 yards. So the Bears moved him to the inactive list and brought in Pat O'Neill, who had been cut by the Patriots on Oct. 31 for—you guessed it—poor punting.
Alas for the Bears, O'Neill proved to be no more effective than Sauerbrun. His first punt was partially blocked, giving Detroit possession at its 44 and leading to a 25-yard Jason Hanson field goal that gave the Lions a 10-7 halftime lead. For the day O'Neill averaged 29.7 yards on three punts and earned a chorus of boos every time he trudged off Soldier Field.
And then there's the failure of the Bears' red-zone offense. In a virtual replay of their 35-28 loss to the Packers a week earlier, the Bears had a chance to at least send the game into overtime. With 1:55 remaining, Chicago had a first down at the Detroit 11. But just as was the case at Green Bay, the Bears stalled.
"For some reason, it's just not happening," said running back Robert Green. "It's put-up or shut-up time."
A Brown at Heart
The Packers' final game in Cleveland—against the Browns, at least—was especially nostalgic for wideout Anthony Morgan, a Cleveland native who grew up dreaming of playing for the Browns. During the 1980s, Morgan avidly rooted for Brown teams, which featured the likes of quarterback Brian Sipe, tight end Ozzie Newsome and defensive backs Hanford Dixon and Frank Minnifield. "I don't think I missed a game," says Morgan. "Usually I watched them on TV because it was so cold. But I went to a couple of games and sat in the Dawg Pound. Heck, I'm still a Browns' fan."
The Cleveland cold was one reason Morgan opted to play his college ball at Tennessee, where his speed (he was a sprinter and relay man on the Volunteers' track team) made him dangerous as both a receiver and a return man. A fifth-round draft pick of the Bears in 1991, Morgan spent 2½ seasons in Chicago before joining the Packers off the waiver wire midway through the 1993 season. Last year he caught 28 passes in 16 games, and this season, with 20 catches for 232 yards and three scores, he has given the Packers a capable deep threat to complement Robert Brooks. On Sunday he made a memorable return to Cleveland, catching a 13-yard touchdown pass in the Packers' 31-20 win.
As a former Dawg Pounder, Morgan has a special appreciation of what it's like to be on the receiving end of the abuse that the section's raucous denizens heap on opposing players. He views it as good fun, but only to a point, and before Sunday's game he admitted he was concerned that the ugliness might escalate because of Brown owner Art Modell's recent decision to move the franchise to Baltimore after this season.
"They throw bones, snowballs, dog food at you," Morgan said before the game. "You don't know what's going to hit you, but you don't want to get hurt, either. I got tickets for my mom, my brothers, my friends, but I'm skeptical about them going down for the game. You don't know what the fans are going to do. To take the Browns from Cleveland is like a slap in the face to the fans and to the league. It's tough."