DETROIT (AP) -Brian Griese replaced Rex Grossman as Chicago Bears quarterback on Sunday. In every way.
No, it's not fair to blame Chicago's 37-27 loss to the Detroit Lions solely on the failings of Griese, who was designated to replace Grossman as the Bears' starter this week. Grossman threw three interceptions against Dallas last week, one returned for a touchdown, in his most recent start.
But it's fair to note that Griese threw three interceptions Sunday, one returned for a touchdown.
``Kind of a broken record,'' coach Lovie Smith said, rather dourly.
The Bears are now 1-3 with a trip to 4-0 Green Bay next in a game that absolutely, positively will make or break their season. OK, not quite - they could certainly bounce back and compete for a wild-card playoff spot in the mediocre NFC.
But this is a team with players who before the season proclaimed they were on their way back to the Super Bowl. Wild-card teams rarely get to the Super Bowl.
Teams without adequate quarterbacks rarely get there, last season's Bears being an exception.
There's a simple way to look at this game.
Entering the fourth quarter, the Bears led 13-3, a classic Chicago score. The defense was doing its job, as usual, despite missing three starters in the secondary and four overall - five if you count Mike Brown, out for the season with an Achilles' tendon injury. The real offense, aka return man Devin Hester, was doing his job, with 31-yard and 19-yard punt returns that set up two field goals by Robbie Gould.
But if Griese had done his job, it might have been an insurmountable 27-3, more or less.
Instead, with first-and-goal at the Detroit 6 in the final minute of the first half, he threw a ball slightly behind Bernard Berrian that was intercepted by Fernando Bryant. That allowed Detroit to get out of the half behind just 7-3.
On Detroit's first possession of the second half, Mark Anderson sacked Jon Kitna, forcing a fumble that was recovered by Brandon McGowan at the Lions 12. Again no points for Chicago because, three plays later, Ernie Sims intercepted a pass intended for Berrian.
And finally, after the Lions cut it to 13-10 on the first play of the fourth quarter, in which they scored an NFL-record 34 points, came the coup de grace.
Facing a third-and-3 from his 44, Griese faced a defense showing blitz. From the press box, at least, it looked like a fake blitz. From the field it looked like something else, so Griese looked again for Berrian in the left flat.
Zoom. In flew backup cornerback Kevin Smith, who jumped in front of Berrian, grabbed the ball, and romped 64 yards untouched for the go-ahead touchdown.
Even though Hester, who finished the day with 296 return yards, returned the ensuing kickoff 97 yards for a score, the dam was broken. The Lions' offense wore down the depleted Chicago defense, the points started flowing and never stopped.
``I was expecting man coverage and they had zone coverage,'' Griese said, confirming that the view from the field is indeed very different than the view from on high. ``The guy fell off of the inside slant and was in the throwing lane.''
That wasn't said as self-justification. It was said from the perspective of a 10-year journeyman whose father also played quarterback in the NFL and who has been around, from Denver to Miami to Tampa Bay to Chicago.
That's the point.
For Chicagoans, from Lovie Smith to the fans who live and die on everything the Bears do, Brian Griese is not the answer. He is simply a stopgap quarterback whose job is simply to not make mistakes on a team with a defense that can create scores and a return man who has eight touchdowns in a season and a quarter in the NFL. That is why Smith gave him the starting job after Grossman imploded last week on national television.
Instead, Griese played exactly like his predecessor against a defense that a week ago gave up eight touchdowns in Philadelphia.
``We're not playing at a high level,'' offensive coordinator Ron Turner conceded. ``We had a new quarterback. We leaned on the best players we had to offer.''
Kyle Orton, anyone?

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