If you turn on ESPN today and happen to catch the highlights of the Monday night nail-biter between the undefeated Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers, you will hear how the Bears got lucky and won the game thanks to a handful of Green Bay Packers mistakes, iffy officiating, and record-setting penalties.
Sorry Packer fans and Bears haters, but all your excuses won't change the fact that the Chicago Bears are in sole possession of first place in the NFC North and are the No. 1 seed in the NFC.
What's more, the excuses for the Packers' 20-17 loss to the Bears in Chicago Monday night are hypocritical and nearly delusional.
Experts and fans alike are in shock that a team that was projected to win only five to seven games the entire season has not only knocked off the high-powered Green Bay Packers, a team most analysts picked to reach and even win the Super Bowl in Dallas this season, but has started out 3-0 as well.
So the angry excuses and scapegoats start to pour in. Let's break down those excuses and determine if the Bears are legit or if they're just plain lucky.
Some will argue that the officials handed the Chicago Bears the game with three very pivotal calls near the end of the game: a holding call on Julius Peppers that took an Aaron Rodgers TD pass off the board, a roughing the passer call on Jay Cutler that nullified an interception and kept a scoring drive alive, and a pass interference flag thrown against the Packers on a Jay Cutler deep pass to Earl Bennett.
First off, the fact that anyone would argue the holding call on Peppers is ludicrous. The replay clearly shows not only Peppers, but Israel Idonije as well, had Rodgers dead to rights.
The Packers line, which was called for numerous penalties on the night, twisted and pulled Peppers away from Rodgers in what was easily one of the most blatant holding calls of the night. The TD pass wouldn't have happened without it, and it was a good call. Go watch the replay and point that one out to me if you think you have an argument.
Not to mention there were at least four or five holding calls that the officials missed in the first half that kept a Packers scoring drive alive. The Bears forced the Packers into two third down situations late in the second half, and on both passes Rodgers was able to escape the pocket thanks to clear, unmistakable holding penalties on Chad Clifton that should have nullified the play but weren't called.
It's an eye for an eye. Don't complain about a few legitimate penalties late in the game when the Packers were getting away with it all first half.
And the late hit on Cutler that kept a drive going? Did you see the questionable roughing the passer call that Rodgers got earlier in the game because a defensive player's THUMB caught in the helmet? Cutler's head was nearly ripped off on clear helmet-to-helmet contact. For every break that the Bears caught, the Packers caught a similar one as well.
You could argue that the Packers didn't play their best: A Rodgers short TD pass was dropped in the end zone, and the Packers had more trouble than usual converting on third down. But you could argue the same for the Bears. The Bears left 10 points, at least, on the field thanks to a dropped TD pass from Cutler to Desmond Clark on 4th-and-goal and a missed field goal by Robbie Gould early in the game.
Pull the blinds over your eyes all you want—the Bears played the smarter game on Monday night and beat a better team. They had fewer penalties, fewer turnovers, and fewer bonehead plays, like the unnecessary roughness penalty that occurred when two Packers corners decided to toss Matt Forte around like a rag doll long after he was down following a first down run late in the game.
That's not luck—that's the Packers being cheap and undisciplined.
Week after week we see top teams like the Saints barely eke out wins against bottom-tier teams, yet they're still ranked No. 1 or considered a contender by fans and analysts alike. But the Bears defeat two teams picked to be the top contenders in the NFC...and they're simply "lucky."
The Bears are for real. Argue it all you want with "what ifs" and "could've beens," but look at it this way: Even if the Packers drove down the field in the final minutes of the game, didn't turn the ball over, and kicked a field goal to win, are we talking about how "lucky" they are? How close they came to being beat by the lowly Chicago Bears?
It sounds like some fans and experts are bitter that once again their predictions have proved meaningless and that this really is "why you play the game" and where the phrase "any given Sunday" comes from.
The Bears are on fire and show no signs of slowing down. Their next couple contests come against the underachieving New York Giants and other lowly teams like the Panthers, Seahawks, Redskins, and Bills. The Bears could easily find themselves 8-0 after proving they can take down the heavyweights in the NFC.
Tune out the haters, Bear fans; your team is the best in the NFC right now—right where they deserve to be.