LAKE FOREST, Ill. – The Chicago Bears admit they're underachievers, and now they hope no one calls them quitters.
With their playoff chances virtually shot, the Bears are looking to play out the string. Any miracle Bears playoff chances involve winning every remaining game while Seattle, Detroit and Dallas lose all of theirs, so the 5-7 Bears are trying to finish their games against Dallas, then New Orleans, Detroit and Minnesota without a decline in effort.
"It's just frustrating because as a team, the talent we have on our team, we definitely are underachieving," running back Matt Forte said. "A few guys have to do some soul-searching for the rest of the season and plan how they want to play the rest of these games."
Against Detroit on Thursday the offense finally found a way to score in the first quarter after six straight games without a first-quarter point, then vanished. They haven't scored more than 28 points this season. The defense allowed 34 points against a Lions team that had been held without a touchdown two straight games.
Two key holding penalties on center Roberto Garza helped slow the offense Thursday.
"We're a team that has certainly hurt itself throughout the year with the penalties that we have had, taking ourselves out of field position, scoring position on a consistent basis and we're (coaches) on it all the time," coach Marc Trestman said. "We've got smart players, they don't want to do it.
"They have the ability to do it right and we have to continue to move forward and push them through this so we can get better as we move forward."
Defensively, the Bears have to cope with more injuries. Safety Chris Conte left the Lions game with an eye injury after suffering concussions and shoulder injuries earlier this season. Cornerback Tim Jennings left with a groin injury. The Bears played without starters Lance Briggs (groin) and Jeremiah Ratliff (knee) due to injuries.
They'll toss that problem in with a defense that has allowed 350 yards or more nine times and has allowed 140 points in the last three road games.
"We've got to tackle," defensive end Jared Allen said. "We had some opportunities (Thursday), we had some third downs get away from us, and we've got to find more ways to create turnovers."
Cutler and other players insisted no one will quit even with the Bears all but certain to miss the playoffs for the seventh time in eight seasons.
"I think with the guys we have and character and integrity of the guys, I don't think anybody's going to quit," Cutler said. "I think the coaches won't let us, they're not going to quit on us.
"I think the leaders of the team will make sure that we finish this right."
Allen said it now becomes a matter of pride and being a spoiler.
"You play every game for what it is," he said. "Misery loves company, right? You try to take everybody down with you.
"You play because it's your job, you play because this is what we love to do. You go out there and if you're willing to shut it down, you're willing to get embarrassed, I don't want you on my team. And I don't think we have one guy (like that) in here."