Nothing is worse than seeing your favorite team lose simply by giving a game away, and no one gave one away quite like the Bears did in Week Six last year.
Recapping the Bears near-miracle win which turned into an inexplicably impossible loss in just 0:11 is unnecessary. All of us have recapped it time and time again, most notably as the benefactor of said collapse, the Atlanta Falcons, ended up taking the wild card playoff spot that would of been ours had the Bears held on.
I can't count how many times during Atlanta's opening round playoff loss to Arizona last year when I caught myself saying, "damn, that could be us taking it on the chin to the eventual NFC champions"(my foresight is amazing like that).
But it wasn't meant to be.
Well, here we are in Week Six again, where we will see the Bears return to the site of the most devastating regular season loss I can ever recall witnessing. I'm not one who usually puts a lot of stock into "revenge games," but in this case, I am making an exception.
The Bears (not to mention Jay Cutler) have bounced back from their heartbreaking Week One loss much better than I anticipated they would. Their have been various surprises in the three wins that have followed, most notably a high level of play from the receiving core and the defensive line.
They have also been able to do what they struggled so mightily to do last season—close out games. They compiled very impressive fourth quarter rallies to defeat Pittsburgh and Seattlle in back-to-back weeks. After week one, I did not anticipate they would go into their bye 3-1, and I am very pleasantly surprised to see they did.
But while they have faced a few significant tests thus far in the year, none have been as big as avenging last seasons Georgia Dome debacle.
Such a task will not prove easy as Atlanta, a team I already had a very high opinion of, comes into the game 3-1 and riding the momentum of a crushing road win at San Fransisco on Sunday. And for a secondary which has already allowed three individual 100-yard receivers in four games, I'm not sure Matt Ryan, Roddy White, and Tony Gonzalez are what the doctor ordered for a quick recovery.
Oh, and their running back is pretty good as well.
The Bears are not over-matched, however, as their surprisingly deep passing game mixed with a (hopefully) back-on-track Matt Forte should be able to keep them competitive with the "high flying" as it were, Falcons offense.
Competitive simply isn't good enough this time around though. Normally a loss in your fifth game of the year isn't devastating, and honestly there's no reason this would have to be a back-breaker either. But with both of these teams currently looking up at Minnesota and New Orleans in their respective divisions, they may both be slugging it out for wild card births again, and taking a potential tie-breaker would be huge.
But almost as important, this game is about removing a stank taste from the mouths of Bear fans that is still lingering a year later. Loosing a game where you take the lead with 0:11 to go simply shouldn't happen. No fan should ever declare the phrases "we're going to the Super Bowl" and "this is the worst god damn team I've ever seen play" in the same five minute span.
While yes, it is only the fifth game of the season, it is crucial on two levels. One, the needed leverage it would give in the above mentioned playoff race, but also because of the redemption factor. If the Bears can win what is likely going to be a tight game on the road this week, they may finally be successful in pushing the unpleasant memories of last years squad full of chokers out of my brain forever, and finally give me the sense of comfort I need to believe this is a team well equipped for a playoff run.