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LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- In the closing moments of the Chicago Bears' 23-20 overtime loss at Minnesota on Dec. 1, wide receiver Brandon Marshall admits he came close to pulling "a Dez Bryant" and walking off the field before changing his mind and reversing course.
"I'm serious," Marshall said. "If you watch film, you'll see me like at the 30 [yard line], then you'll see me at the 20, then you saw me right around the 15, I caught myself. I promise you I almost walked off the field. Man, that was a tough game."
I'm serious. If you watch film, you'll see me like at the 30 [yard line], then you'll see me at the 20, then you saw me right around the 15, I caught myself. I promise you I almost walked off the field. Man, that was a tough game.” -- Brandon Marshall
Judging from the team's reaction in the locker room in the immediate aftermath of that game, several Bears likely thought the season was finished. In a locker room sectioned off in three parts, Marshall sat on a stool, away from the rest of the team dressing in the main section, staring off into space with tears in his eyes.
After a moment, Bears general manager Phil Emery walked over to Marshall, stooped and whispered in the receiver's ear.
"I was crushed in the locker room," Marshall said. "I just remember sitting in the corner of the locker room and may have even had tears in my eyes."
"Phil Emery just came and patted me on the head. He always leaves me alone when I'm in that mode, when after games and we lose and he knows I'm really frustrated. He came and he just picked me up a little bit, and said, 'We've still got a chance.' After that, I hit the showers and let it go. That says a lot about this team. It's a trickle-down effect. Guys just understand the nature of the business, and guys are there for each other in this locker room."
Since the loss at Minnesota, the Bears (8-6) have won two in a row and have regained control of their own playoff destiny thanks to the Detroit Lions' loss Monday night to the Baltimore Ravens.
A Bears victory coupled with losses by Detroit and Green Bay would give Chicago the NFC North title and its first postseason berth since 2010.
"Well, the only anxiety for me was depending on someone else [to make the postseason]," Marshall said. "So knowing that we control our own destiny, you know, I'm kind of at ease and really focused on Philadelphia. It actually makes it easier that we're in this position right now.
"I didn't want to be in the same position as last year. We had to wait until the last game of the season. I remember that feeling, all of us riding on that bus, I think we were coming from Detroit and just watching the game. And it was so devastating. It was one of the worst feelings that I've had in my career. So it feels good not to be in that position.
"We've got our work cut out for us; a really talented team at taking the ball away on the defensive side. We know what their offense is about -- averaging almost like 80 plays a game. So it's not going to be easy. But it's the next one up, and we've got to take business in Philadelphia."