Khalil Mack has only been to the playoffs once, losing to the Houston Texans two years ago while with the Oakland Raiders. That 27-14 loss came after quarterback Derek Carr suffered a season-ending injury a few weeks prior; Mack had 11 tackles but no sacks as Brock Osweiler led the Texans to a win in Houston.
Mack said he learned a lot from that playoff game, but isn’t trying to connect the dots between a loss with the Raiders and the Bears’ upcoming wild card round tilt against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday at Soldier Field (3:40 p.m., NBC).
“Different situation, different team,” Mack said. “Just looking forward to going out and getting this win and keeping our playoff hopes alive.”
Mack has played some of his best football for the Bears in the spotlight. Three of his four highest graded games by Pro Football Focus came on Sunday Night Football (at Green Bay, vs. Minnesota, vs. Los Angeles), with his disruptive play critical in those season-defining wins over the Vikings and Rams. The playoff spotlight will be greater, but it’s opportunities like the one the Bears have on Sunday that Mack relishes.
“That’s what you live for,” Mack said. “You live for these types of moments. You live for these types of games.”
Mack finished his first year in Chicago with 12 1/2 sacks and six forced fumbles, impressive production that came in the face of two diminishing factors: First, that he didn’t participate in a single practice until Labor Day; and second, that his entire month of October was wiped out due to ineffective and rest following an ankle injury in Week 6.
The Eagles know what Mack can do, and certainly will have a plan in place to try to slow him behind tackles Lane Johnson and Jason Peters. Mack relishes the challenge of competing against two of the league’s better tackles on a national stage, though, and knows he’ll be remembered for what he does in playoffs more than what he did in the regular season.
“It’s going to be a great challenge for us, and we’re looking forward to it,” Mack said. “This is a dream, to be in these situations.
“… It's all a part of your legacy. That's exactly what you want to be remembered for, being a champion.”