There are losses with names. The Bears loss to Carolina in the 2005 postseason will always be remembered as The Steve Smith Game. Number eighty-nine had about a thousand yards with the Bears refusing to double-cover him. Or tackle him at the line of scrimmage. Or stab him in the throat. This performance was compounded emotionally by the fact Smith did the exact same thing to the Giants the previous week. Early in the 2008 season, the Bears lost The Matt Ryan Game. Lovie Smith inexplicably squib-kicked the kickoff with about ten seconds remaining (following a brilliant Kyle Orton TD pass to Rashied Davis) and Ryan connected on a deep sideline route, the only route he could actually throw in that situation, to set up the game winning field goal.
Now they’ve lost The Marion Barber Game. Lovie Smith is much to blame for what happened in Denver Sunday afternoon but over time his contribution to a season-ending choke job will be minimized. Marion Barber is the goat. It’s his loss and his name belongs on it.
How can a professional running back, a man paid millions of dollars, run out of bounds as regulation is winding down? How can he not understand the situation when the situation is so simple? How can he possibly believe his job there is to bounce the ball outside, bringing the sideline in play? Fucking HOW? Some folks will blame the coaches in this instance but there is no possible way Marion Barber WASN’T TOLD NOT TO RUN OUT OF BOUNDS and there is no reason HE SHOULD HAVE TO BE TOLD THAT! The man is a professional football player. There is no level of shame strong enough for Marion Barber this Monday morning.
And oh! The fumble! You can forgive a fumble, even one in overtime. But you cannot forgive Barber’s fumble. Marion had cleared the first level and was going to gain 10-15 more yards, setting up an easy Robbie Gould game-winner. He got lazy. No other way to describe it. Barber got lazy with the football and any contact would have knocked it loose. He got lazy, for the second time in about five minutes of game clock, with his brain.
Losses don’t get names unless they are major losses and the Bears choked their postseason hopes away yesterday. On an afternoon where Atlanta needed a massive comeback against Carolina and Detroit tried their best to blow a big lead to Minnesota, the Bears had an opportunity to seize control of the wild card race. This game was over. The Broncos were beaten. Then Marion Barber took center stage. And the lights went out.