Sunday, January 16, 2011
Rapid Reaction: Bears 35, Seahawks 24
By Kevin Seifert
CHICAGO -- A few thoughts after the Chicago Bears' 60-minute cake walk over the Seattle Seahawks:
What it means: Whoosh, shooo ... whoosh, shooo ... whoosh shoo ...
What it means, take II: Sorry. ... Trying ... to ... catch ... whoosh, shooo ... my breath.
What it means, take III: OK, I've composed myself. The Bears' victory puts us at the epicenter of humanity. The Bears and Green Bay Packers, the oldest rivals in the NFL, will duke it out next Sunday at Soldier Field in the NFC Championship Game. It will mark only the second postseason game between the rivals in their 89-year history, and the first since 1941. Never have the Bears and Packers played for the right to advance to a Super Bowl. Overall, the Bears lead the series, 92-83-6. This. Will. Be. Epic.
History lesson: For those interested, the Packers and Bears finished the 1941 season with identical 10-1 records. They had each accounted for the other's only loss, and so a one-game playoff was required to determine the Western Division champion. The Bears won 33-14 at Wrigley Field, where I don't think they used Big Ten rules.
CutlerWatch: Quarterback Jay Cutler settled concerns about his playoff aptitude, at least for one day, by throwing a 58-yard touchdown strike to tight end Greg Olsen on his first postseason pass. Cutler accounted for four touchdowns, including two via rush, and avoided the kind of game-changing mistakes that have defined parts of his career. It also helped when Seahawks safety Jordan Babineaux dropped a sure interception at the goal line in the first quarter. Four plays later, Chester Taylor's 1-yard touchdown run gave the Bears a 14-0 lead that ended the competitive portion of this game.
MartzWatch: Offensive coordinator Mike Martz pulled a few rabbits out of his hat after the Bears' playoff bye. Olsen was an early target and finished with 113 receiving yards, the third most in Bears postseason history and almost double his previous high for this season. The Bears also ran three Wildcat plays, including two near the goal line. On the first, receiver Earl Bennett took the snap and rushed for 9 yards. On the second, tailback Matt Forte took the snap and handed it to Taylor for a 3-yard gain. On the third, Forte threw an interception. You might criticize Martz for calling that pass with a 28-3 lead in the fourth quarter, but I think he was trying to give Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers another wrinkle to deal with next week.
InjuryWatch: Safety Chris Harris left with a hip injury and did not return. The Bears used rookie Major Wright in his place.
What's next: The NFC Championship Game will kick off at 3 p.m. ET. Be there or be square.