Huh.

So apparently ... da Bearsss might not entirely suck this season.

But Indianapolis kind of ... does.

Seriously, even allowing that the Bears' offense was a bit better than expected, if you can be pushed all around the field by those guys, your defense has Issues. (For some reason, watching Brian Urlacher get politely pissy at a reporter who dares imply that nobody expected them to win the game is kind of funny.)

Also, Serena Williams is kind of awesome, but Jankovic did choke just a bit at times. She gave back at least one of those breaks. That said, Williams has some impressive firepower.
OK, I'm glad that da Bearsss are in the Super Bowl and all, but oh dear GOD I had forgotten what the lead-in was going to be like. There's damn little that's going to keep the Bears from being the top story in local news every day for the next two weeks.

You know, after 21 years, you forget one or two things, like what it's like to watch a city going slowly insane. Strangely, it wasn't like this for the White Sox and the World Series.

But getting through the next two weeks is going to be rough, let me tell you.
ESPN.com - NFL - NFC championship game: Saints at Bears: Now Do You Believe?

Well ... not really.

However, I can't say the Saints gave away this game the way the Seahawks gave away their game. Or rather, the Saints gave it away to the extent that the Bears literally took it away, with four turnovers. And the Bears demonstrated that as long as Rex doesn't actually hurt them, they can deal perfectly well with him having a less than average game. The first grounding penalty against Brees was thoroughly odd -- not that he didn't do it, but it looked as though the officials talked each other into actually calling the penalty somehow. Notwithstanding, New Orleans really wasn't a factor after early in the third quarter.

In the meantime, south of Lake Michigan, Indianapolis finally sucked it up and beat New England. And now Indy is installed as a one-touchdown favorite over the Bears. Given a rather odd statistical dominance over New England -- the statistics look as though the Colts pushed New England all over the field, rather than having to come from behind to win a close game -- and the fact that their playoff strengths play into the Bears' playoff weaknesses, that's somewhat understandable. (Indianapolis is having a severe case of "Where the hell did THIS team come from?"; they've held all three postseason opponents under 100 total yards rushing after having had the notorious #31-ranked rushing defense coming into the playoffs.

As Dungy said, pity they can't just play the game in Fort Wayne. And it's a good thing that this isn't baseball; nobody outside Chicago and Indiana would watch this game if it were.
ESPN.com - NFL - Recap:
Two swings of the foot by Robbie Gould were all the Chicago Bears needed to offset any shortcomings in Rex Grossman's arm.

And the Chicago Bears got their first playoff win since 1995, moving them one step from the Super Bowl...


Huh.

I tell you true: going in, I thought the final score of this game would be something like Seahawks 28, Bears 13. That the Bears came out of this game with a win is truly remarkable.

That said: the Bears didn't win this game so much as Seattle gave it away. Repeatedly. Literally, with a late back-breaking interception and a late mishandled fourth-down play. And Grossman, for a wonder, really wasn't the problem this time; his one interception wasn't his fault (although his fumble really was -- only an idiot tries to make that pass at that point). The problem was a defense that couldn't shut down the middle -- its alleged strength -- and had problems maintaining containment in the passing game.

It's going to be interesting to see whether or not the Bears can deal with the Saints' offense well enough to win. "Interesting" in the Chinese curse sense of the term, that is. That said, this seems to be the playoff season for weak defenses (and the Bears' defense is wounded enough to be considered weak, with a slide from first in the league to fifth in only its last four games) to rise up and play above themselves. I mean, whoda thunk that Indianapolis, with the 31st ranked rushing defense, would manage to absolutely shut down two powerful rushing games, and could play well enough to win even without strong games from Manning? One would think they were inspired.

Truly, if you go for teams playing above themselves, you're expecting a Chicago-Indianapolis super bowl. If you go for, you know, sanity, you're expecting a New Orleans-New England final.
ESPN.com - Bears' 41-point first half stands in rout of 49ers

Well, that was interesting. And kind of worrisome, what with the whole "not scoring anything in the second half" routine. Granted, game already determined, hard to keep your mind on the field when you're likely bored silly already. But still.

There's also the fact that the Niners shoved the much vaunted Bears' defense all around the field in the second half. Again, the not paying attention, lack of urgency, boredom, I get all that. Still something to be corrected. They get one more weak team -- and Miami really shouldn't be as weak as they are this season, so there may be a few tigers left in that tale -- followed by six weeks of NFL hell, with three consecutive road games, and four of the next five on the road, and two tough home games, all against contending teams. (OK, Tampa is kind of arguable, but again, they shouldn't be as bad as they are this year, and only Balmer had an easy time with them, back in week 1.)
I completely, totally forgot about this game.

Apparently, so did the Bears.

For two and a half quarters, this game bore all the hallmarks of one team underestimating another that was pretty much loaded for bear (no pun intended). The Bears absolutely, utterly and completely stole this game. What it looked like, more than anything, was one of last season's early games, where the defense only asked the offense not to lose games -- heaven knows, the offense did its level best to lose. SIX turnovers? And even after the defense clawed their way back, it still took a missed easy field goal to win this game.

Of course, what everyone keeps forgetting, because he's been around three years, is that Grossman has only started 10 games. He's going to have young-quarterback clunker games more often than you would like. And the defense is going to go walkabout mentally every now and again -- although, to be fair, they really didn't go walkabout that much. Arizona just had one short field after another to go up.

Well, they probably needed a wakeup call, headed into the softest part of their schedule. I'd imagine this might be it.
Well, that was certainly ... unexpected.

I wonder if this is going to be seen as a statement game, in the same way that the Carolina game last year was considered a statement game. As in that game, a team expected to at least play a close game, if not win, was steadily and methodically dismantled. To be sure, the Seahawks were playing without their top running back, but you wonder what he would have done to prevent this.

That said, a statement game at this point in the season doesn't mean a lot. On the up side, the Bears now have a two game lead in the division, with Minnesota losing at Buffalo. On the down side ... well, it's just the fourth game. They can give back that lead easily. And a statement game during the season means nothing if you can't follow through in the playoffs; last year, Carolina learned from the statement game how to defeat the Bears. Hopefully, Seattle won't learn the same lesson.
How ... unexpected.  Seriously, I thought that this would be a close, low-scoring loss by the Bears, not a blowout by them, and never mind shutting Favre out for the first time in his career. Weirdly impressive performance by the offense.

That said, I kind of agree with Favre: "Yeah, give them credit, but maybe we can do something better. Maybe we just ain't very good. I don't know." Because, seriously, the Bears' defense is just that good, but the offense isn't good enough for this result.

That said, it's interesting to see that the Bears had enough flexibility finally to overcome what was clearly the Packers' strategy: shut down the rushing game as best they could (and with the Bears having 109 total yards rushing, and 3.0 yards per carry, the Pack did a damn good job of that) and force the Bears to beat them through the air ... which they actually did.

Bears blank Pack in opener | Chicago Tribune:
In what might turn out to be the first game of Brett Favre's swan song season, Rex Grossman stole the show early and the Bears defense handed the gunslinger the first shutout of his career.

Grossman came out firing after a shaky preseason, completing his first six passes, the highlight being a 49-yard touchdown strike to Bernard Berrian on the sixth play from scrimmage. Grossman finished with a career-high 262 yards, a passer rating of 98.6 and ran his career record at Lambeau Field to 3-0.

The Bears defense also came in with question marks hanging over it, and responded with three sacks and two interceptions, didn't allow the Packers into the red zone and yielded only one third-down conversion.
No real update. In deepest mourning (or, you know, sorta kinda mourning, considering as this was actually the result I was expecting).

So, linkfestiva obscura:

This looks dementedly cool, somehow.

"Oh, zephyr wings which float on high/ lift me now so I may fly..." I never knew that had been turned into a comic book. If I had known, at the time, I would have bought every single issue ... though I somehow gather that there weren't many. (Only the very old among you will actually have the slightest idea what I'm talking about, alas.)

I hope this is good. It looks like it could be fun, if it's well done.

And also: one of the reasons why DC can be very very annoying.

May Require a moment of thought, indeed. And also a moment of snickering.
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