Bears top Seahawks; aim to send Green Bay packing

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When tight end Greg Olsen ran under 58-yard touchdown pass from Cutler on fourth play of their first possession, and it became clear that whatever magic the Seattle Seahawks had in their defeat of the New Orleans Saints, it didn’t follow them to the

When tight end Greg Olsen ran under 58-yard touchdown pass from Cutler on fourth play of their first possession, and it became clear that whatever magic the Seattle Seahawks had in their defeat of the New Orleans Saints, it didn’t follow them to the Windy City.

After 20 minutes, it was over. Cutler scored on a 6-yard run five minutes into the second quarter, and through the swirling snowflakes at Soldier Field, it was clear that the Seahawks were done. Only some uncharacteristic defensive lapses in the fourth quarter allowed the Seahawks to score 24 points, but it was no comeback, just the Seahawks trying to find a high note to end a 10-loss playoff season.

At 8:22 left in the game, the crowd started to chant, “Green Bay sucks! Green Bay sucks!” Chant came up again at 4:51 and 4:18.

Seattle came in with nothing to lose, since no one expected them to win anything, but it seemed that they were also playing with nothing to win. There was no urgency in their play. But Chicago came out as a team on a mission.

Now the Bears are poised to host the NFC championship game at Soldier Field this week, as the top remaining seed in the NFC. Ok, pinch yourself … who would have thought that the Chicago Bears would have been one game from the Super Bowl when the season started?

Through it all, the unflappable Lovie Smith never changed his attitude or his demeanor. He kept saying he had a good team. He kept saying that his offensive line would come together. He kept saying that the new Mike Martz offense would jell.

“Now that we have beaten the Seahawks, it just doesn’t get any better, as I see it, than for the NFC championship coming down to the Packers coming down on our turf this time,” said Smith after the game. “The Packers and Bears to finish it up.”

Of course, Smith knew when he joined the Bears that beating the Packers were the focus.

“The first thing (chairman) Michael McCaskey went over when I came here to interview for the job was to make sure I knew about the rivalry,” Smith said at his Monday press conference. “He let me know a little bit about it then, too. Believe me, we know exactly how we’re supposed to feel about that rivalry.”

As Smith said simply, “we don’t like each other.”

“Believe me, there is not a whole lot of love for us coming up north,” Smith added. “But games are supposed to be played on the field. It will come down to how we play and our guys realize that.”

Perhaps Smith knew something way back when the season started, when his team lost all of their preseason games and looked awful doing it. While the 25th anniversary of the 1985 Super Bowl championship team was dominating most of the Bears talk this year, Smith was quietly preparing his team to make new memories, and now they are four quarters away from their third Super Bowl appearance.

It is quite a turnaround for Smith, who at the end of last season was thought to be on his way out of town. Instead, the Bears brought in three former head coaches to serve as assistants, and Smith kept preaching patience and punishing defense. All year the ball seemed to bounce the Bears way, and scheduling and injuries all favored the Bears. Now, they are facing the number 6 seed in the NFC for the chance to go the Super Bowl, and they’ve already beaten two of the three other remaining teams in the playoffs – Green Bay and the New York Jets.

“This year, one of the things we talked about was bringing back some of our tradition. We talked about the Monsters of the Midway. That’s a period when we first started being known as the Monsters of the Midway. So all that comes into play. All the old time Packers and Bears fans should all pay close attention this week to what’s going on.”

What is going on has nothing to do with the 1941 Bears or even the 1985 Bears. The 2010 Bears are playing Sunday to go to the Super Bowl, Lovie’s second in his Bears tenure. These Bears are trying to make history.

Copyright 2011 Chicago Defender

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