Bears Down & Out; Packers Claim Halas TrophyPosted:Jan 24th, 2011 12:03 am
There is nothing in the world of sports more satisfying than winning a championship in your arch rival's stadium. Nothing. Sure, they made us sweat. They've done that all season. But the Packers are in Super Bowl XLV and it doesn't get any sweeter than that.
In the end, it was Dom Capers' defense that saved the day, dialing up another brilliant effort: containing the running game and keeping all three Bears QBs off balance most of the day. When B.J. Raji delivered the pick six that gave the Pack a 21-7 lead in the fourth quarter, it looked like the knockout blow. But young Caleb Hanie showed a lot of moxie, producing a quick TD and keeping the Bears in it until Sam Shields stepped in front of one of his passes in the final minute to ice it.
Offensively, it was a strange game. The opening drive was a thing of beauty. But points were hard to come by after that. The interception by Urlacher at the goal line was Rodgers' one key mistake of the day. Otherwise he was very good as usual, using his legs to make the Bears pay on a number of key plays.
As has been the formula throughout the playoffs, Mike McCarthy stuck with the run. 32 carries for 120 yards in all, 74 by James Starks who handled the pressure as well as we could have hoped--protecting the ball and running hard between the tackles.
Tim Masthay did a great job, as did the punt coverage unit, containing Devin Hester and not allowing special teams to turn the momentum in the Bears' favor.
Has it sunk in yet? The Packers are heading to Dallas for a chance at their 13th NFL championship. After the injuries to Grant, Finley, Barnett and everyone else, after the excruciating close losses to the Bears, Dolphins, Redskins and Lions, the Pack is one game away from bringing home the Lombardi Trophy.
And they got there by knocking out their insufferable, overbearing, annoying neighbors to the South, in their house. Bears fans around me were cursing Cutler for getting hurt, Lovie for poor coaching down the stretch, the officials for favoring the Pack. It was music to my ears. Satisfying. The ultimate in football satisfaction.
To beat the Bears at Soldier Field to win the NFC title. The Super Bowl will almost feel anti-climactic. Almost. We've got two weeks to get our minds around Super Bowl XLV. The Packers are the first NFC #6 seed to reach the Super Bowl. For now, I'm going to enjoy my night in Chicago, knowing that the Halas trophy is headed north--where it belongs.