Bears

Bears slaughter Seahawks, will play for NFC Title

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Bears slaughter Seahawks, will play for NFC Title

Sunday, Jan. 16, 2011
Posted: 3:26 PM Updated: 6:31 PM
By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

Now the Bears and Green Bay Packers can settle matters for this season in a game that really matters.

After watching the Packers annihilate the Atlanta Falcons, the Bears went out on a snow-flecked Soldier Field and did the same to the Seattle Seahawks in a 35-24 victory that sets up the NFLs two oldest rivals in the NFC Championship game next Sunday in Soldier Field at 2 p.m.

The Bears and Packers come into next Sundays game with a combined winning margin of 38 points in their divisional-round victories.

Bears-Green Bay. ... It just doesnt get any better than that, as I see it, coach Lovie Smith said.

Next Sunday will only be the second time the Bears and Packers will meet in a playoff game. The Bears crushed Green Bay 33-14 in a one-game tiebreaker game a week after Pearl Harbor.

Maybe Smith had an idea this might confront the Bears sometime, as he played his starters throughout in a season-ending 10-3 loss at Green Bay. Had the Bears defeated the Packers, Aaron Rodgers and his associates would have been watching this weekend instead of playing.

Fast start

Before a crowd of 60,010, the Bears built a 28-0 before Seattle kicked a 30-yard field goal late in the third quarter that appeared to be more an attempt to avoid the ignominy of a playoff shutout than anything else.

In his first-ever playoff game, quarterback Jay Cutler threw for touchdowns to tight ends Greg Olsen and Kellen Davis, ran for two of his own and handed to running back Chester Taylor for a short TD plunge in the first half.

The offense finished with 437 yards for the game, highest for the franchise in a playoff game in the Super Bowl era, with Cutlers 261 net passing yards also a high-water mark.

The Bears were 0-for-12 on third-down conversions in the first Seattle game. They converted 10 of 18 on Sunday.

Its up there among 2010 performances, Cutler said. But I dont think its our best game. I really dont. We missed some stuff.

The Seahawks crept a little closer on two touchdown passes from Matt Hasselbeck to Mike Williams in the fourth quarter. But Cutlers toss to Davis with less than 5 minutes remaining ended any serious whiff of a comeback.
Dominant performance

Simply put, the Bears (12-5) played like a division champion. They led 21-0 after less than 20 minutes were played, then they held that lead while limiting the Seahawks (8-10) to 96 total yards as the offense was piling up 238.

With a record of 42-8 under Smith when leading at halftime, this game was over. The points explosion in the first two quarters matched the Bears season high posted against the Philadelphia Eagles. The difference was that the Eagles score 13; the Seahawks were never close to the Chicago goal line and did not cross the Bears 40 in the first half when it still mattered.

The Bears controlled the ball 16 minutes of the first half and 21 in the second, holding Seattle to 111 total yards through three quarters.

Its easy to play defense when youre not playing, linebacker Brian Urlacher said.

Cutler made his first career playoff pass a memorable one. Behind flawless protection, Cutler launched a 58-yard touchdown throw to Olsen, who had outrun veteran safety Lawyer Milloy down the center of the field.

Olsen, whose career best for one game had been 94 yards, had 113 on three catches in the first half alone. He added a 33-yarder along the right sideline on the Bears second possession, a 50-yard drive that finished with a 1-yard burst over right tackle by Taylor for a touchdown.

The Bears lead ballooned to 21-0 when Cutler took matters, and the ball, into his own hands and picked his way six yards to give the Bears three straight touchdown possessions and a 21-0 lead with 10:05 remaining in the second quarter.

And Davis gave the Bears a second TD by their tight ends to close out the Chicago scoring before Seattles mini-rally.

Tight-end play was huge, Olsen said. Kellen comes back on that crucial play and catches that big touchdown to kind of ice the game. It just shows you, players whatever youre labeled or your position, if you can make big plays and make things happen for our offense, youre going to play.

John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.

Training Camp Daily: Peter King Talks Bears Upside

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USA TODAY

Training Camp Daily: Peter King Talks Bears Upside

Training camp Daily: Peter King joins the Under Center Podcast on Day 2 of practice in Bourbonnais. King and John "Moon" Mullin talk Trubisky year 2, Trubisky comparison, Bears upside this season and Urlacher's Hall of Fame Induction.

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded link below:

 

Could Bears improve and still lose ground? The MMQB's Albert Breer weighs in on tough NFC North

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USA TODAY

Could Bears improve and still lose ground? The MMQB's Albert Breer weighs in on tough NFC North

NBC Sports Chicago’s John "Moon" Mullin talked with The MMQB's Albert Breer, who shared his thoughts on where the Bears stand — and if they’ll be able to compete — in a highly competitive NFC North.

Moon: The Bears have made upgrades, but they’re in the NFC North and not many divisions are tougher, given the strength at quarterbacks.

Breer: Yes. You look at the other three teams, and they all very much believe they’re in a window for winning a championship. The Packers are going through some changes, but they’ve gotten Mike Pettine in there as defensive coordinator and a new general manager who was aggressive on draft day. I know that internally they feel that’s going to give them a boost, and bringing Aaron Rodgers back obviously is the biggest thing of all.

Minnesota, all the things they did this offseason, signing (quarterback) Kirk Cousins, (defensive lineman) Sheldon Richardson, and they were knocking on the door last year.

The Lions have been building for two years under (general manager) Bob Quinn and (new coach) Matt Patricia, who lines right up with the general manager — the two of them worked together in New England. They really believe that Matthew Stafford is ready to take the sort of jump that Matt Ryan made in Atlanta a few years ago, where you see that mid-career breakthrough from a quarterback that we see sometimes now.

It’s one of the toughest divisions in football, and every team in the division believes that it’s in the position to contend right now.

Moon: We didn’t see a lot of Mitch Trubisky — 12 games — so it sounds possible that the Bears could improve and still lose ground.

Breer: The Lions were pretty good last year. The Vikings were in the NFC Championship game. And who knows where the Packers would’ve been if Rodgers hadn’t broken his collarbone. The biggest change is that Aaron Rodgers will be back, and that’s the best player in the league. It was a really good division last year, and you’re adding back in a Hall of Fame quarterback.

As far as the Bears, there’s going to be questions where the organization is going. It’s been seven years since they were in the playoffs. I think they certainly got the coach hire right. This is a guy who I know other organizations liked quite a bit and was going to be a head coach sooner or later.

And I think he matches up well with Mitch. I think the Bears are in a good spot, but as you said, they’re competing in a difficult environment, so it may not show up in their record.

Moon: A lot of love for the Vikings after they get to the NFC Championship and then add Kirk Cousins.

Breer: A lot of people look at Minnesota and think Kirk Cousins’ll be a huge improvement. And maybe he will be. I think he’s a very good quarterback, top dozen in the league. But Case Keenum played really, really well last year, so it wasn’t like they weren’t getting anything out of that position last year.

The NFC right now is clearly the strength of the league. If you picked the top 10 teams in the league, you could make a case that seven or eight of them are in the NFC. I think there will be NFC teams that miss the playoffs who could be in the Super Bowl coming out of the AFC. There’s a little bit of an imbalance there.

Moon: Trubisky projects as part of a wave of new quarterbacks league-wide, a sea change in the NFL.

Breer: The interesting thing is that this is probably as stable as the league has been at quarterback in a long time. There’ve been questions where the next great quarterbacks will come from, but I don’t know that there’s a team right now in the NFL like you looked at the Jets or Browns last year, where you say that team is definitely drafting a quarterback in 2019.

Everyone either has a big-money veteran or former first-round pick on their roster. One team that doesn’t is the Cowboys, but they’ve got Dak Prescott who’s played really well. Every team in the league has some stability at the position. I think the position is as healthy as it’s been in a long time, and you’ve got a lot of good young prospects.