Before you order your plane tickets to Dallas for the Super Bowl on Sunday, February 6, 2011, I think you should remember what former Arizona Cardinals coach Dennis Green ranted on October 16, 2006 after the undefeated Bears made an unlikely comeback to defeat his team.
"The Bears are what we thought they were. Now if you want to crown them, then crown their ass! But they are who we thought they were!"
I thought this would be the game where I would be able to figure out if the Bears were any good, but after defeating the Packers by a field goal with four ticks left on the clock, I still have no clue what we have here.
The Chicago Bears are the only undefeated team in the NFC, and one of only three in the league. (I bet the '72 Miami Dolphins are breathing a sigh of relief knowing none of the pretenders left will threaten their undefeated season.)
But who are the 2010 Chicago Bears? They came into this season after a disappointing 7-9 record in 2009, and they had to win their last two games to achieve that lofty mark.
They looked putrid in the preseason, and it appeared only a matter of time before Lovie Smith would be a 'dead coach walking.'
They barely survived the opener against a Detroit Lions team that had won just two games total in the two previous seasons. While they were likely improved this year, they're still one of the bottom-feeders in the league.
Only an absurd rule kept them from losing to the Lions despite outgaining them by almost 300 yards.
Then they traveled to the house of money that Jerry Jones built in Dallas to play one of the preseason favorites for the Super Bowl, the Cowboys.
The Bears looked like world-beaters, but the Cowboys also looked like pretenders. Perhaps America's team is a bit overrated.
But nobody could say that about Green Bay.
In Aaron Rodgers, they have one of the best quarterbacks in the league. They also have a great set of receivers. The running game is suspect to say the least, but watching them throw the ball, who needs to run?
Don Capers runs the defense and with Clay Matthews terrorizing QB's to the tune of three sacks each of the first two weeks of the season, this was going to be no walk in the park for the Bears.
They were playing a real team this week. Unfortunately for the Packers, just like Detroit did in the first game, the Packers blew a nice lead with just a few minutes left in the half and let the Bears get back in the game.
The Green Bay punter kicked a low line drive to Bears punt returner Devin Hester, and if not for a nifty tackle by the punter, he would have ran it back for a touchdown. Still, he put the Bears in great field position and they were able to score and cut the lead to 10-7 at the half.
The key to this game was that the Bears were able to keep the Packers in eyesight. They never were able to build an insurmountable lead and wreck the Bears hope of a comeback.
But did the Bears beat the Packers, or did the Packers beat the Packers?
They lost two interceptions and a touchdown because of penalties. They were constantly off-side, making late hits, interfering; you name it they did it, to the tune of 18 penalties for 152 yards.
It was the second most penalty yards against a Bears team in their history. Only the 1951 Cleveland Browns amassed more.
Would the Bears have been in the game if not for all of the mistakes the Packers made?
The Bears are "winning ugly" which was the title given to the 1983 Chicago White Sox for winning despite not playing a pretty brand of baseball.
How about the 2001 Bears who forged to a 13-3 record under Coach Dick Jauron where it seemed like every bounce went their way that year until the Philadelphia Eagles beat them and beat them up in the playoffs?
Are the 2010 Bears back to being lucky? Or is their coach, who I have dubbed "Lucky Smith," getting a reprieve in what should be his walk year and maybe working his way towards an extension. He has one more year on his contract, but that didn't stop the Bears from extending him after the Super Bowl loss in 2006.
And that's where the lucky comes in. I've never thought he was a very good coach, in fact, I thought he was a very lucky coach to inherit a good defense and a coordinator in Ron Rivera that knew how to run it.
Smith got rid of him after the Super Bowl and the team has never been the same.
Hester was also a key that year, running back kicks for touchdowns and getting the team great field position every time he lined up to field a kick.
Besides his run back yesterday to set up a TD, he had his first return for a touchdown in over two years later in the game to give the Bears the lead 14-10.
Tied 17-17 late in the game and with the Packers marching down the field for the winning score, Brian Urlacher stripped the ball from James Jones and the Bears recovered.
Another penalty on an interference call kept the ball in the Bears hands despite an interception and the rest is history. Robbie Gould kicked the chip-shot field goal, and the Bears are on their way.
But to what?
Are they really a playoff-bound team, or have the Gods smiled down on them so far?
I don't have the answer, so you tell me.
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