CHICAGO — This time Brandon Marshall arrived at the podium without a Christmas tree or self-motivating theatrics.
The bravado the Chicago Bears’ wide receiver wore last Wednesday when he spoke about his disdain for the Green Bay Packers had dissipated following Sunday’s 21-13 loss at Soldier Field.
After dropping a game he categorized a few days earlier as the biggest of his career, Marshall was left scrambling for words before emotionally checking out, ending his postgame news conference shortly after the 1-minute mark.
In those fleeting moments, however, Marshall’s candor spoke volumes about the Bears’ predicament, having lost five of their last six games and conceding the NFC North Division race to their oldest of rivals.
That was due in large part to a sputtering Chicago offense and quarterback Jay Cutler again not being able to solve Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers, whose unit limited the Bears to only 190 yards even when they were presented with opportunities down the stretch.
“Everybody involved in offense should be held accountable, even if that means jobs,” said Marshall, who led the Bears with six catches for 56 yards and a touchdown. “Everyone on offense should be held accountable. It’s been this way all year. There’s no excuse.”
Five days earlier, Marshall took to the podium at his weekly news conference equipped with a miniature Christmas tree before delivering a stirring anti-Packers diatribe.
In the wake of Marshall’s comments, Packers tight end Jermichael Finley questioned the value of injured 34-year-old linebacker Brian Urlacher to the Bears’ defense. In response, Chicago linebacker Lance Briggs called Finley “an idiot.”
Following the game, however, the Bears’ locker room was eerily silent, with most complimenting the Packers and quarterback Aaron Rodgers for their performance while emphasizing the necessity of a quick rebound to capture one of two NFC wild-card slots with two regular-season games remaining.
Playing without Urlacher (hamstring) and cornerback Tim Jennings (shoulder), who leads the NFL with eight interceptions, the Bears surrendered 391 total yards to the Packers and Rodgers, who threw for 291 yards and three touchdowns.
“The biggest thing we had to do was just contain him,” said Bears defensive end Corey Wootton, who had four tackles and 1½ sacks. “When he’s in the pocket, he’s not as successful. When he’s outside the pocket, he makes plays happen.”
Even when Chicago forced Green Bay into turnovers — they got one off a Ryan Grant fumble and another off a Jeremy Ross botched trick punt return — its offense wasn’t able to do much of anything.
Cutler, who has won only one of his eight meetings with the Packers, finished with 135 passing yards and only 12 completions. On the ground, running back Matt Forte started his day with eight carries for 37 yards on the Bears’ first series, but managed only 32 more the rest of the game on 14 attempts.
It all equated to the Bears’ sixth consecutive loss to the Packers and eighth in the last nine games.
“Six games,” Bears coach Lovie Smith said. “I can tell you, we know they’re our rival. You need to beat your rival, and we haven’t gotten it done. Plus right now, we just need to take care of business and hope that we get another chance.”
To have a chance to make the playoffs, the Bears (8-6) need to win road games against Arizona and Detroit. Regardless, Sunday went down as a lost opportunity.
For all the talk last week, it was the Packers who got the final word Sunday.
“It’s very frustrating,” Marshall said. “You can see it on my face right now. Self-explanatory.”
— firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @WesHod.