Bears excel behind a little-used talent - NBC Sports

Bears excel behind a little-used talent
Tight end Olsen kicks off Chicago's big day against weak Seattle secondary
AP
Bears tight end Greg Olsen, top,ÿcelebrates with teammate Johnny Knox. Olsen opened Chicago's 35-24 win with a 58-yard touchdown.
January 16, 2011, 11:01 pm

And he barely needed two quarters to eclipse the century mark.

Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz feasted on the deep middle of Seattle's defense in Sunday's 35-24 divisional-round playoff victory. Turning the tables against the Seahawks, Martz attacked safeties Lawyer Milloy and Jordan Babineaux just as Seattle victimized Saints safety men Roman Harper and Darren Sharper in last week's wild-card round upset.

It also should serve as a warning to anyone expecting Green Bay to run past the Bears during next Sunday's NFC Championship game. Martz is too smart and has enough weapons to score against any defense -- especially Seattle's.

It took all of three Bears plays for Martz's gameplan to emerge.

"It's pretty hard to play us with three-deep back there," said Olsen afterward, referring to Seattle's coverages. The Seahawks frequently left their defensive backs on an island -- not smart considering Milloy is already two steps too slow for Olsen.

Putting targets on the back of Milloy, Babineaux, and even defensive rookie of the year candidate Earl Thomas, Olsen was over 100 yards by the second snap of the second quarter. He could've had even more, tripping at the end of a 22-yard catch-and-run and dropping an inconsequential pass while up 28-10. Milloy finished with seven tackles, his most since Week 12 and an obvious indication that Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley's approach went awry. Babineaux dropped a goal-line interception. A playmaker all season, Thomas forced no turnovers and surrendered a 39-yard fourth-quarter touchdown to Kellen Davis, coming up too small on his leaping breakup attempt.

All told, Bears tight ends accounted for five catches, 155 yards, and two touchdowns. Seahawks safeties were victimized for both scores.

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Sunday's win diverged from the norm because Martz's offense is not tight end-friendly. Olsen, in fact, was rumored to be on the trade block last spring because Martz prefers blockers at his position, and Olsen is a catch-first tight end -- essentially a rocked-up wide receiver. He set or tied three-year lows in receptions, yards, and touchdowns during the regular season.

"There's no question it was a good feeling," conceded Olsen, who didn't top 64 receiving yards all season but had 113 on Sunday. According to Olsen, the Bears "knew we needed to make a statement" after watching the Packers blow out the Falcons 48-21 on Saturday night.

Can Martz and Olsen do similar damage in next week's NFC Championship game?

But, perhaps the most accurate answer is maybe. In two regular-season meetings with Green Bay, no Bear racked up more receptions than Olsen's 10, and his 93 yards were one off wideout Johnny Knox's team lead. Olsen also scored a nine-yard touchdown against the Pack in Week 3.

Underutilized all season, Olsen now looks like the key to the Bears' Super Bowl chances. Green Bay's offense is the hottest in the league. Odds are, Chicago won't keep up in the box score if Olsen takes a backseat in the passing game as he did for much of 2010.



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