NFL Nation: 2010 Playoffs Seahawks-Bears rr

Rapid Reaction: Bears 35, Seahawks 24

January, 16, 2011
1/16/11
4:31
PM ET
CHICAGO -- Thoughts on the Seattle Seahawks' 35-24 defeat to the Chicago Bears in the NFC divisional playoffs Sunday at Soldier Field:

What it means: The Seahawks maxed out against New Orleans in the wild-card round. They played down to outside expectations against Chicago and failed to capitalize on opportunities, including when Bears quarterback Jay Cutler threw passes right to them. Another missed opportunity -- a chance to play the NFC Championship Game at home -- stands out in the bigger picture. This performance makes it easier for the Seahawks to honestly assess their shortcomings during the offseason. Advancing to the NFC title game would have invited analysis through rose-colored lenses.

What I liked: Seattle did not panic after falling behind early. Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck did not start forcing passes the way he had after falling behind in some regular-season games. Coach Pete Carroll, admittedly too aggressive at times in his game management, played the field-position game effectively early instead of going for it on fourth-and-1. The decision to kick a field goal after following behind 28-0 also made sense to me. Seattle wasn't threatening the end zone. Might as well avoid the shutout. Aaron Curry's fourth-quarter interception off a Matt Forte trick pass provided a rare highlight.

What I didn't like: Lots of little things, and a few big ones. Seattle conceded the conventional ground game from the beginning, opting instead for gimmicky plays to the perimeter. Revisiting "Beast Mode" with Marshawn Lynch wasn't part of the plan, and it became impractical once an injury sidelined tight end John Carlson and Seattle fell behind. The Seahawks appeared unsure of themselves, particularly early. Hasselbeck went to the sideline as though his headset was not working. The defense was late getting Raheem Brock off the field, and then linebacker Lofa Tatupu had to scramble just to make sure the front aligned properly. Veteran safety Lawyer Milloy, beaten for a 58-yard touchdown on the Bears' first pass play, scrambled to get free safety Earl Thomas in position later. Mike Williams and Cameron Morrah dropped passes. Defenders appeared to have trouble with their footing as they tried to rush the passer. Thomas gave up a touchdown trying to make a spectacular interception. Overall, the Seahawks were too sloppy, making it tough for them to challenge a superior team.

Injurie(s) of note: Carlson and cornerback Marcus Trufant left the field immobilized and on motorized carts. Carlson landed face first following a 14-yard reception. Trufant absorbed a hit to his head while going low to tackle tight end Kellen Davis. Both players suffered head injuries, the Seahawks said. Neither returned. Trufant suffered a concussion in Week 11 while tackling another player low. Fullback Michael Robinson was able to walk off the field after lowering his head and taking a hard hit in the third quarter. He returned.

Trending: The Seahawks finished the season with an 8-10 record. Each of their previous nine defeats had been by at least 15 points. This one was closer after Seattle rallied with two late scoring passes. Hasselbeck finished the game with three touchdowns and no interceptions. He had seven touchdowns and one interception in two playoff games.

What's next: The Seahawks head into the offseason with a long list of potential free agents and the 25th overall choice in the 2011 NFL draft.

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.

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