First off I know this was a uptight team. All the mistakes that were made by the players and the coaches, they just looked bad, and at times stupid, but that is what you do when you are trying not to blow it instead of trying to win it. When they did win it, they celebrated like they won the little league world series, it was probably a huge relief to get the monkey off of their back.
Although it was an overtime win, I never really felt like Seattle was much of a threat to win the game. I felt the same way when I saw the Southern Illinois vs. Creighton mens basketball game last year in Omaha. Creighton kept giving it their best shot, and the Saluki's just rolled with the punches, didn't get too excited or hyped, just kept playing until they won. The Bears played like that this past Sunday, only many of the punches they took were self inflicted, however they made plays when they needed to make them. Linebacker Brian Urlacher defending a pass 40 yards down the field was a spectacular example of that and the Bears talent on defense... as Gregg Easterbrook said in his ESPN TMQ column:
...painful sequence for (Sea)Hawks fans: Chicago ball, and Rex Grossman throws a 68-yard touchdown strike to Bernard Berrian, who runs the deep post with no safety in sight. Now it's three snaps later, and Matt Hasselbeck throws the deep post to Darrell Jackson. Brian Urlacher, the middle linebacker, is in position deep to break up the pass...
I think the second half of the season was more about not blowing it than aggressively winning. Despite playing like this for months, they still won more games than they lost. Hopefully now they can take a collective sigh of relief and go out and take a game instead of playing not to lose.
One of my big complaints about the NFL and sports in general is that team management would rather have the questionably motivated star than the guy who hates to lose. I think Chicago has a bunch of players who want to win, and they play as a team. When the offense struggled, the defensive leaders were out front of the media supporting their teammates, when the defense struggled, they offense did the same. Yes it is nice when you have a guys who are both fantastic and hate to lose, like Urlacher or center Olin Kreutz, but I would take a good player who likes to win over a great player who doesn't care any day. It's working in New England.
So onto predictions about this weeks NFC championship game. I think the Bears will win, and handily so, playing well on both sides of the ball and special teams. The shoe comes off of the Cinderella Saints, as usually happens with 'teams of destiny' in the championship round. This puts the Bears into the Superbowl (can I say that without paying the NFL something) ... and gives the background & color scheme on my blog at least two more weeks of life.