It continues to look like Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith found a four-leaf clover while picking up a penny with a rabbit’s foot in his pocket.
Somehow, the Bears wound up facing the team with the worst record in the history of the playoffs in the divisional playoffs—this after a season full of fortunate breaks to go with good play by his team and Smith has gone from coach on the hot seat to coach in the catbird’s seat.
Who wouldn’t want to be at home for the playoffs to face an 8-9 Seattle team that had a 2-6 road record and didn’t just lose those six games, but got completely dominated. The Seahawks lost 38-15 at Tampa, 40-21 at San Francisco, 34-19 at New Orleans, 33-3 at Oakland, 31-14 at Denver and 20-3 at St. Louis.
Sure, the Bears provided one of those two Seattle road victories, 23-20 in a game that wasn’t as close as the final score.
However, that loss occurred Oct. 17, before the Bears retooled their offensive line and before offensive coordinator Mike Martz saw the proverbial light, or offensive line coach Mike Tice’s foot heading toward his rear end—whichever you prefer to believe.
The Bears had no running game prior to Week 9, but it wasn't because running back Matt Forte struggled. Instead,
Martz chose to mold the offense into a new version of his “Greatest Show on Turf” offense, only without a few minor ingredients like the offensive line and receiving talent.
There wasn’t a pass play in the offense Martz was afraid to call and defenses didn’t respect the Bears’ willingness to run until the turnaround during their bye week, the period when coaches held an intervention of sorts and reminded Martz about how the Bears always “get off the bus running,” under Smith, and that he had Forte and Chester Taylor to carry the ball and that people like Walter Payton and Gale Sayers once played here.
Quarterback Jay Cutler made his first start since a Week 4 concussion in the game with Seattle, and looked both rusty and scared.
The Bears did not have perennial Pro Bowl linebacker Lance Briggs in the game, either.
The list goes on and on.
This isn’t the same Bears team Seattle faced Oct. 17, but it would take a lot more than Saturday‘s stunning playoff win over the defending world champion Saints to prove the Seahawks are not who we thought they were.
They have a body of...ahem...work to overcome. Their 27th ranking on defense and 28th ranking on offense, and the 2-6 road record look more like the handiwork of teams fighting for a top draft pick than the NFC championship.
Which brings the discussion back to Smith.
Who could have predicted both a Seattle win and Packer win at Philadelphia, putting the worst playoff team in history in Chicago against the second seed?
It all just goes back to a season when the stars aligned properly for a good team, making them even better.
High school chess clubs encounter more injuries than the Bears have had this year.
The surprising Viking road win at Philadelphia virtually handed the Bears a bye.
The Bears faced three third-string quarterbacks in road wins.
They didn’t face Vikings running back Adrian Peterson in the ice at Minnesota the second time, and the game had to be played outdoors in a climate more to their liking than the Vikings’ because the Metrodome roof collapsed.
They beat the Eagles without their top two cornerbacks.
And then there was that Detroit win in Week 1 when they completely dominated the Lions in yardage by almost a 4-1 count, then nearly blew it on a last-second TD pass that Calvin Johnson was deemed to have dropped according to some misguided NFL rule.
That pass on opening day should have been taken as a good omen.
Someone is living right these days at Halas Hall, and unless the Seahawks went through a complete metamorphosis in one playoff game before their own wild crowd on Saturday, that good roll is going to last until at least the NFC championship game.