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