Final Thoughts on the Bears’ Victory over the Vikings
My overall thoughts on the Bears’ division-clinching win over the Vikings on Monday Night:
1) For all the talk about the Bears’ bickering over the playing surface, I think it is only fair to applaud the Bears’ players and coached for the mental toughness they showed on Monday Night. Firstly, the Vikings were able to somehow skirt a rule regarding injury reports that nobody in the NFL knew about and get Brett Favre in the lineup after declaring him out on Saturday. The Vikings were able to get an NFL game played at TCF Bank Stadium, a college stadium, that a) does not have the required number of NFL seats to host an NFL game (the very reason the Bears moved from Wrigley Field to Soldier Field in 1970); and b) does not have the NFL-mandated safety features, such as heating coils in the turf. Secondly, the Bears were going to be playing outside, in the cold—which was not a very good formula for us the previous week versus the Patriots. To make matters worse, the Vikings won the toss and drove right down with no resistance and scored on the opening drive. I don’t think I was the only Bears fan in the world thinking, “Oh CRAP.” Even the referees seemed determined to make the game close. Two BOGUS Holding calls on the Bears wiped out a long screen play and a TD; A roughing the Passer call was flat out missed on Jay Cutler’s INT; Brett Favre appeared to fumble on the play that knocked him out of the game; and The pass interference call on Major Wright that led to the Vikings; 2nd TD was incorrect. But the Bears withstood the early emotional burst from the Vikings and, quite frankly, physically and mentally beat them back down. Sure, the Vikings were a little short-handed, but the Bears went out and for the most part, took care of business very clinically.
2) It is GREAT to see Matt Forte finally running like a6-foot 2-inch, 225 pound running back. He was running downhill, and PUNISHING would-be tacklers. If this continues, this will give us that dimension that we really haven’t had since Thomas Jones left in 2006.
3) Our defensive line played their most dominant game of the season. Besides Wootton putting Favre out of the game, we had constant pressure on their QBs and batted down a few balls with active hands. Even the pursuit on plays down the field looked 100 times better. Everyone knows the defensive line is the lifeblood of the Cover-2 scheme—so hopefully, the high level of play carries over. One side note—HAS ISRAEL IDONIJE HAD THE QUIETEST 8-SACK SEASON IN THE HISTORY OF THE NFL?
4) Devin Hester. THANK GOD we have him. In an era where special teams coverage units are schemed and practiced more than ever, and teams have specialists on their teams strictly to nuetralize a good returner, it is safe to say that Devin Hester is the most dynamic returner in the NFL. Ever.
A FEW THINGS I AM STILL CONCERNED ABOUT:
1) What is up with our tackling at the beginning of games? We settled in okay, but Toby Gerhart is NOT Earl Campbell. Is it the cold weather? Lack of focus at the outset of games? This must be corrected, as we will play some good tough runners in the playoffs.
2) What is wrong with our kick coverage units? Is it just having to plug different guys in there as a domino effect of the Tinoisamoa injury? IT would be a shame to play so well in the playoffs and have a special team return turn the game in the other team’s favor.
3) With a 37-14 lead late the fourth quarter, WHAT THE HECK IS JAY CUTLER STILL DOING IN THE GAME? I think I can speak for all Bears fans when I say that based on what I saw in the Carolina game, I do not want to enter the postseason with TODD COLLINS as our starter. Lovie, PLEASE get Cutler to the playoffs healthy.
With all this being said, if you would have told me that with 2 weeks left, the Bears would have clinched the division, had inside track at a 1st-round bye in the playoffs, and an outside shot at home-field throughout the playoffs, I would have been pretty happy with that. Congrats to the Bears on a great year so far, and lets keep it going. BEAR DOWN!