Bears

CSN looks back at one of the windiest days in NFL history on the next installment of Bears Classics

CSN looks back at one of the windiest days in NFL history on the next installment of Bears Classics

‘Bears Classics’ presented by Knauz Automotive Group season premiere to debut Wednesday, October 28 at 7:00 PM CT -- Exclusively on Comcast SportsNet

Narrated by Chicago Bears/Pro Football Hall of Fame legend DICK BUTKUS

Chicago, IL (October 22, 2015) – Comcast SportsNet and the Chicago Bears will debut a brand new installment of its partnered Bears Classics presented by Knauz Automotive Group documentary series when the network will once again go back in time to highlight one of the more unique meteorological occurrences in NFL history that produced an unforgettable, record-setting play by a Bears defensive back.

In its third season premiere, debuting Wednesday, October 28 at 7:00 PM CT exclusively on Comcast SportsNet, Bears Classics will turn back the clock to November 13, 2005 when the Bears hosted the San Francisco 49ers at a blustery (to say the least) Soldier Field.  Chicago is no stranger to strong winds coming off Lake Michigan, but conditions were extreme throughout this game, as peak gusts reached levels of over 50 mph.  However, the winds played in the Bears favor on the very last play of the first half.

With :02 left on the clock, 49ers kicker Joe Nedney lined up for a 52-yard field goal attempt that caught one of the those strong gusts, forcing the football to go wide right.  At that moment, an alert Bears cornerback - Nathan Vasher - was eight yards deep in the end zone when he caught the football, hesitated for a moment…then simply went for it.  Combined with Vasher’s speed and some key sideline blocks from linebacker Lance Briggs and safety Chris Harris, Vasher tore up the field to make NFL history with a record-setting 108-yard play.

This 17-9 Bears win over the 49ers gave the team its fifth-straight victory and a 6-3 record at that point in the ’05 season.  The team finished with an NFC North best 11-5 record, which ultimately fell to the Carolina Panthers in the NFC Divisional Playoffs.

This edition of Bears Classics, subtitled Winds of Change, takes an in-depth look back at that game featuring candid interviews with players and coaches from both teams, along with those who covered that historic game ten years ago.  Plus, this hour-long documentary will also breakdown the key plays and moments from the game, which included a devastating injury to the Bears first-round draft pick, running back Cedric Benson. 

This edition of CSN’s Emmy-nominated Bears Classics documentary series will be narrated by Chicago Bears legend/Pro Football Hall of Famer Dick Butkus.  Butkus played for the Bears from 1965-1973 and is credited for redefining the middle linebacker position.  He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1979.  Comcast SportsNet’s Sarah Lauch is the Executive Producer of Bears Classics, Willie Parker is the Producer, and Kevin Cross is the network’s Senior Director of News & Original Content.

In addition to the documentary narration by Butkus, among the numerous players/media/execs interviewed in this edition of Bears Classics include exclusive interviews with the following individuals:

NATHAN VASHER

Bears Cornerback (2004-09)

REX GROSSMAN

Bears Quarterback (2003-08)

THOMAS JONES

Bears Running Back (2004-06)

LANCE BRIGGS

Bears Linebacker (2003-14)

TOMMIE HARRIS

Bears Defensive Tackle (2004-10)

BERNARD BERRIAN

Bears Wide Receiver (2004-07)

ADEWALE OGUNLEYE

Bears Defensive End (2004-09)

ISRAEL IDONIJE

Bears Defensive Tackle/End (2004-12)

ROBBIE GOULD

Bears Kicker (2005-present)

JERRY AZUMAH

Bears Cornerback (1999-2005)

ANTHONY ADAMS

49ers Defensive Tackle (2003-06); Bears Defensive/Nose Tackle (2007-11)

JOE NEDNEY

49ers Kicker (2005-10)

LAURENCE HOLMES

WSCR AM 670 “The Score” host

PEGGY KUSINSKI

NBC 5 Chicago Bears beat reporter

JOHN “MOON” MULLIN

CSNChicago.com Bears “Insider”

LARRY MAYER

ChicagoBears.com Senior Writer

SCOTT HAGEL

Bears Vice President of Communications

Please note the following quotes from Comcast SportsNet’s premiere airing of Bears Classics: Winds of Change,debuting Wednesday, October 28 at 7:00 PM CT:

NATHAN VASHER (on returning a 49ers' missed field goal for a 108-yard touchdown, setting an NFL record):  "The hardest part was to be able to catch it, you know, leaning back and not to go out of bounds, but I mean it was right before halftime so there wasn't any time left…let's take it out and see how it goes. And the rest is history."

ANTHONY ADAMS (as a 49ers defender watching Vasher's historic run): "Vasher runs right past me...right past.  I remember this like I remember my kids being born…he ran right past me and I wanted to trip him!"

TOMMIE HARRIS (on the extreme weather conditions at Soldier Field): "I've never played a game that windy.  I mean the pylons were rolling off...you could barely stand up as a player."

REX GROSSMAN (on returning to action in 2005 after missing 13 games with an injury): "My leadership as a whole, I felt like I was just totally trying to be me…to be who I was…smile, have a good time, be intense when I needed to be, and do my job."

THOMAS JONES (on the competition with top draft choice Cedric Benson for lead running back): "It's one thing when you're competing on the field.  It's another thing when you're competing off the field, so we really never had a relationship.  I tried to in the beginning, but once I realized that wasn't going to work, I just focused on doing what I was doing on the field."

Comcast SportsNet will also re-air this episode of Bears Classics on Tue, Nov. 10 at 7pm – and again on Wed, Nov. 18 at 7pm.  Details regarding November’s premiere episode of Bears Classics will be announced in the coming weeks.

In addition, fans can also get interactive prior and during every airing of Bears Classics with their thoughts, memories and comments by utilizing the Twitter hashtag #BearsClassics.  Plus, CSNChicago.com will provide additional, online exclusive interviews and commentary write-ups from a variety of Comcast SportsNet on-air talent members and from CSNChicago.com’s Bears “Insider” John ‘Moon’ Mullin.  

First and Final Thoughts: Does anyone really know what to expect this Sunday?

First and Final Thoughts: Does anyone really know what to expect this Sunday?

Not unlike Matt Nagy and Mitch Trubisky, it's Year 2 of First and Final Thoughts. Insider JJ Stankevitz and producer Cam Ellis talk about what's on their minds between games.

Final Thoughts on the Bye Week 

J.J. Stankevitz: The Bears had a lot of soul-searching to do in their off week, specifically among offensive players and coaches not named Allen Robinson. But more important than anything else will be improvements on the offensive line — better protection and run blocking will go a long way toward helping this offense operate more effectively in the Bears’ final 11 games. That means better play from left tackle Charles Leno and center James Daniels, as well as counting on Rashaad Coward/Ted Larsen/Alex Bars to be better at right guard than a less-than-100-percent Kyle Long was. 

Fix the O-line and a lot of problems will be solved. Don’t and it could diminish how much better Mitch Trubisky is — if he is at all — upon  coming back. 

Cam Ellis: I'll be curious to see where the Bears' bye week preparation show up first. Between the offensive line, an uninspiring run scheme, absent tight end production and no real answers at quarterback (but otherwise it's fine!), they've got to start somewhere.  Is it fixing the run game in hopes that it takes the burden off Trubisky's return? Or is it getting Trey Burton: The Adjuster involved earlier? Speaking of getting the ball earlier, Anthony Miller lightly lobbied for a higher workload, which may not be a bad idea either. This is why they pay Nagy the big bucks, but man, coaching in the NFL seems kind of hard. 

First Thoughts on Week 7 

Stankevitz: I’m going to expand on this more later in the week, but New Orleans’ defense looks like a tough challenge for Trubisky to face in his expected return Sunday. 2018 first-round edge rusher Marcus Davenport is third in the NFL in pass rushing efficiency, generating a pressure once every 13.7 snaps (behind only Nick Bosa and Khalil Mack). Cam Jordan is one of the better defensive linemen in the NFL and doesn’t always get his due for how good he is. 

So New Orleans has an excellent defensive front, one that will take sound technique and strong communication for the Bears’ O-line to block. And then there’s cornerback Marshon Lattimore, who’s shut down the likes of Amari Cooper, Mike Evans and DJ Chark over the last three weeks. His lock-down presence — he travels in zone coverage to take out a team’s best receiver — allows the Saints to not need to always play a safety over the top, leading to extra men in the box to stop the run. 

So Trubisky will have his hands full on Sunday. It’s not like the Saints have an elite defense, but it’s good, and looks like a bad matchup for the Bears’ offense. 

Ellis: To almost directly contradict J.J., I actually think there are yards to be had against a Saints defense that ranks 13th in pass defense DVOA, ninth in yards per play and has allowed five plays of 40+ yards (T6). Marshon Lattimore's had a great month, but his season-long coverage numbers are more good than great. An average pass defense will be more than enough if the Bears' offensive line plays as poorly as it did in London, but if for some reason the combination of Rashaad Coward, a bye week breakthrough, and Taylor Gabriel makes everything snap into place, I think the Bears could move the ball better than people expect.

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How Blackhawks physicality is adding new dimension to style of play

How Blackhawks physicality is adding new dimension to style of play

The Blackhawks turned in their best 60-minute effort of the young season in Monday’s 3-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers. They controlled the pace of play, got terrific goaltending from Corey Crawford and tightened up defensively.

But they also showed that they added a new layer to their team game this season.

The Blackhawks registered 36 hits against the Oilers, one of which was thunderously delivered by Andrew Shaw, sparking a scrum. Brent Seabrook led the team with six hits, Calvin de Haan had five and Drake Caggiula and Olli Maatta each had four. Heck, even Alex DeBrincat (three) and Patrick Kane (one) got in on the action.

It’s an element of their game that’s been missing the last few seasons and something they feel is important to their overall team success because it keeps other teams honest.

"I don't know if it's because of the personnel we have or the way we want to be strong and competitive and win battles, but obviously the other night we had a lot of finished hits and a lot of physicality that brings up the morale on the bench, which is a good thing," Kane said. "You look at Shawzy's hit, the stuff he's been doing early in the season — whether it's scoring big goals or sticking up for guys after they get hit — it's been awesome for the team. That's something that can really help us. We also need to play a little bit more with the puck, but it's a way we can get the puck back."

The Blackhawks don’t necessarily want to lead the NHL in the hits category, but they do want to establish an identity centered around being a difficult team to play against and adding that dimension is part of it. So is team unity.

"I don't think it's going to be our go-to in the way we're going to beat teams," Jonathan Toews said. "There's no doubt we've got guys that can mix it in. We saw last game with Shawzy and Murph, and [Ryan Carpenter] and [Zack Smith] and go down the list of guys. Even [Caggiula] and [DeBrincat] were throwing the weight around a couple days ago. It's definitely part of our game — we can play with energy and I think it's going to be there when we're ready to go. But our game is puck possession and keeping teams in their end and outplaying them in that sense.”

Through four games this season, the Blackhawks are averaging 33.0 hits per game. The previous two seasons they averaged 16.5 and 16.8, respectively, which ranked 30th.

While it's still early, there's clearly an uptick in the physicality department and it's exactly what the organization was hoping for after bringing in players like Shaw and Smith to add some bite to the roster. The Blackhawks are focused on becoming a team that can win in several different ways and play any kind of style.

"There’s a difference between running around just trying to get a tick on the stat sheet," coach Jeremy Colliton said. "But we definitely want to be physical when we have the chance and force the opposition to make plays before they're ready, and we can create turnovers and transition and offense and get out of D zone. We have some guys who like to play that way and I think it helps our team." 

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