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Julius Peppers, starting defensive end for the Chicago Bears, is rumored to have been fined $10,000 for his helmet-to-helmet hit on Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers in Sunday’s NFC Championship Game, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The hit also apparently drew blood as seen on the television broadcast.
The hit, which didn’t cause Rodgers to miss any playing time, did cause the refs to flag Peppers for roughing the passer.
Rodgers would finish the game, a 21-14 Packers victory, by completing 17 of his 30 passes for 244 yards. He didn’t throw a touchdown pass, but did end up with two interceptions charged to him. He also rushed seven times for 39 yards and a touchdown.
Peppers, who switched between left and right defensive end to exploit mismatches, recorded just two tackles and zero sacks in the game.
The Bears are done until next season while the Packers will play the Pittsburgh Steelers in next week’s Super Bowl 45.
Lovie Smith, coach
“First, I want to congratulate the Green Bay Packers. Mike McCarthy is a heck of a football coach and really had their group ready to go. Felt good about the effort that our team gave too. Came up a little short today. Early on, when you get down 14-0, that’s tough, 14-0 and you lose your starting quarterback. But our guys just continued to fight, giving ourselves the chance to win the game at the end. Again, going back to them offensively, too many big pass plays on their part early on. When we had the ball offensively, we weren’t able to get it on third down, it really hurt us. But again, we got it going. We got the running game going, got the passing game going at the end and never got an awful lot from our return game. But when you got a team like that, you know, it’s a lot of give-and-take. Again, there’s a lot of disappointment in the locker room, feel like we made progress with our program this year and eventually we’ll put that ring on.”
On whether it was a team or player decision for Jay Cutler to play
“No player decision. For us, Jay hurt his knee, he couldn’t go. He tried to go, that last series there of the first half, took a shot to the knee, tried to go, went in and worked on him a little bit at the half but he came out. He just couldn’t go, team, doctors and all, there was no decision really. He was injured.”
On if Jay was upset after injury
“Of course, everyone is upset in sports. But he was hurt and he couldn’t go. Trainers, doctors and all, they were the ones that really made that decision. Of course Jay, he’s like everybody else, disappointment he couldn’t go out and play and help his team win.”
On what play Jay hurt his knee
“Right at the end. I don’t know exactly. It was the end of the second [quarter] in the first half.”
On whether Jay tried to talk his way back in
“Hey guys, he hurt his knee and he was out, alright. There’s nothing else for me to tell you on that. I don’t know exactly when it happened, he couldn’t go and that was that. Let’s go to some other questions.”
On Caleb Hanie’s performance
“Felt real good about what Caleb was able to do. As the third quarterback, you don’t get a lot of reps but he stayed in the game mentally and really felt like he belonged there. We had an opportunity there at the end to tie the game and that was down to Caleb leading us. So can’t complain about his play at all.”
On Todd Collins being ahead of Caleb on the depth chart
“We thought Todd was the next guy that should be up, ready to go.”
On not receiving to start the game
“We wanted our defense to play, kind of simple as that. I think it’s tough on an opposing offense to come in and get the crowd into it right away. So we felt like we could get a stop right away. As much as anything we wanted the ball to start the second half, which we were able to do.”
On passing up a 49-yard field goal attempt
“That was out of field goal range for us. We had to be at about the 27 going in that direction, we were just a little short as much as anything. It was out of our range to feel like we could make it.”
On why there was no timeout on 4th-and-4
“Didn’t feel like we needed it. Had a good play. What would a timeout do if you can, if you have a play that you like there’s no reason to do it.”On plan on how long to keep Todd Collins in
“There’s no plan, you just look at how the game goes as much as anything. Went a few series and didn’t like what we were getting and made the move from there.”
On why Collins was the No. 2
“Todd has been our backup quarterback for awhile. There’s a lot of things that go into play with that, practices each week and what we’ve seen from them throughout. It’s not like there is a big difference, that’s why we went to Caleb fairly quick. But Todd was our two, we went with our two, didn’t like that. Felt like we needed to go a different direction and we did.”
On Jay’s first half performance“You know we didn’t get any – I mean I thought Jay did some good things, but we didn’t have any points the first half so we can’t feel good about a whole lot that we did the first half. Would have liked to see Jay have the opportunity to play that second half but it just wasn’t meant to be.”
On using Matt Forte more than wanted to
“No, I don’t think you can use Matt too much. Our plan, of course was to keep him involved and get him more involved with everything, so no, I can’t say we used him too much.”
Brian Urlacher, LB
On putting the game and season in perspective
“It’s a disappointing way to end the season, it’s not the way I wanted to end it. But you know, no one expected us to be here, we know that. Doesn’t make it any easier for us to lose this game. We expected to win this game, we expected to play good, just too many mistakes. Give them all the credit, they made us make the mistakes, they played better than we did.”
On what you said to Jay Cutler after he went down
“I don’t remember.”
On what you did the second half to slow the Packers down
“Played better. I mean they know what we’re doing, we said all week long they know what we’re doing. They threw it, they ran it. Rodgers had what a 35-40 yard run there. Second half we just hunkered down, guys got off the line, we got takeaways, we got pressure on them and played how we play.”
On Caleb Hanie playing quarterback
“He played good. He was thrown in there as our third string quarterback, got thrown in the fire. It’s a big situation, NFC Championship… I thought he did a great job especially there at the end, it’s a tough situation to be in. But he came in did a good job led the offense, got some points on the board, gave us a little spark there. We didn’t make enough plays, we got to get better field position for him.”
On Urlacher’s interception
“He threw it at me. I don’t know if he didn’t see me or what. He threw it at me and tackled me. That’s what I saw.”
On Aaron Rodgers performance
“He’s a great quarterback, there’s no doubt about that. He knows where to go with the football. I think we had two takeaways again. I know what he is, he does a great job for them. Actually, they ran the ball better than they have in the past. They had a couple of long runs there that gassed us a little bit but they are a good offense.”
On any surprises today
“Yeah, we lost. That was surprising to me. But, they did what they’ve been doing all year long. They had couple of things for us that have hurt us during the season. So they did those things that hurt us during the season at the beginning of the game. Other than that they did what they’ve been doing the whole time. I thought we did a good job the second half, you know we gave up no points on defense the second half. First half we struggled a little bit but we started flying around a little bit, making plays, having fun.”
On Green Bay’s first drive
“They ran right through us. They did the same thing on the Monday night game at our place too. Just get back to work. You know, they scored on us right away, down 7-0 but we weren’t panicking or anything. Down 14-0, still didn’t panic and just kept playing.”
On how the first drive happened
“They’re a good offense. I don’t know why. They completed some passes there, had a long run there. They just out-executed us on that drive I guess.”
On feelings about Cutler not coming back
“Somebody else has got to step up. My first reaction was we need to make some plays on defense to get the ball back and get better field position. Anytime something like that happens you want to give as big of an advantage as you can to your offense with field position and points on the board if we could’ve. But I thought he did a good job. Caleb went in there and did a good job for us.”
On other players around the league talking about Jay
“Nothing like jealous people at home watching. Players around the league you said right? Yeah, I love jealous people when they are watching our game on TV while their season is over.”
On feeling like being one or two plays away
“We were, I mean it didn’t feel like it, I thought we were. We were right there at the end. If we get that 4th-and-5, or 3rd-and-5 there at the end we might still be out there, but we’re not. They made the plays when they had to and that’s it.”
On questioning Jay’s return
“Jay was hurt. I don’t question his toughness, he’s tough as hell. He’s one of the toughest players on our football team. He doesn’t bitch, he doesn’t complain when he gets hit. He goes out there and plays his ass off every Sunday, he practices every single day, so no we don’t question his toughness.”
Caleb Hanie, QB
On if he thought he would be playing in the NFC Championship game
“Obviously not. You dream about it and you try to envision what would happen if you have to go in the game. As the backup quarterback, that’s your job – to prepare like you’re going to play. That’s what me and Todd (Collins) have done all season is prepare hard just in case Jay (Cutler) gets hurt. He’s a very resilient guy - doesn’t get injured a lot. You don’t expect to come in and play on a day like this – especially the NFC Championship game – but that’s just how it goes sometimes. That’s football.”
“I never felt out of it. I felt comfortable and that’s how our team has been all year. Just fight, fight and fight some more. Even if we’re down or people don’t believe in us or we may not have a good game offensively, we always try to bounce back and fight and that’s the message that Lovie (Smith) and Coach Martz has sent to us is just be resilient.”
On going from the second to third string QB during the season
“They just liked the way Todd was doing things at that time and felt comfortable with him. He’s been in the league 16 years and he’s done a great job when he’s been elsewhere and so that’s why they go [that way].”
On if being demoted during the season was good motivation
“I’d like to think that I don’t need that type of motivation but when you get demoted you always have a little extra fire in you to come back and show that they made the wrong decision. But that’s just the coach’s decision at that time and you can’t argue with a guy with 16 years of experience like Todd has.”
On how the Bears were able to move the ball more effectively in the second half
“I don’t really know. We made some adjustments and just said that we’ve got to win our one-on-one match-ups. Coach Martz called a great game and got me in position to complete some passes and that’s it. That’s all there is too it. We just went out and tried to execute. Our run-game started hitting a little bit better too, so that helped me a lot also.”
On what the coaches said to him when Cutler went out of the game
“It was more of a snap decision. When Jay got hurt – or came out – they just told Todd he was going in. Went and got him ready, asked him what he was comfortable with and after a couple series they came to me and said ‘Hey, are you ready to go?’ I said ‘Yes, I’m ready.’”
On his response to the coaches on what he was comfortable with
“It’s a hard question to answer. I was comfortable with the offense. I’ve been comfortable with the offense since training camp - been through it since March/April of last year. So I felt good about it, everything we’ve been running. The reps with the receivers are the key, but I felt good about everything we got in.”
On if he audibled at all in the game or took every play from the sidelines
“We took every play. We have a couple run-checks and stuff like that, but most of the time we’re just trying to hit it fast with Mike’s offense.”
On the two interceptions he threw versus the Packers
“The one to (B.J.) Raji, they dropped off into the backside and I just didn’t see him. Matt (Forte) came into that window and that’s where else so they didn’t want that play and the clock was running down. So I don’t blame them, its hindsight to say ‘Oh, that run that we didn’t even want to call might have popped’ but I think it was fine.”
On if he knew when or how Jay Cutler got hurt
“No, I don’t know when – obviously the first half. I don’t know what happened they just told Todd to be ready, then me.”
On if he was asked to do anything different that Collins or Cutler
“I don’t think I was asked to do anything more than what the offense calls for. This is a great offense and running it the way Mike wants you to run it is the way you’re going to be successful. Obviously, I’m going to go back and look at tape. It’s the only way to make that decision on if things were working more in the first half than the second. We knew what coverage; they were playing us hard-aggressive man most of the time, they were blitzing – some corner blitzes in the second half – and we made some adjustments to that and started moving the ball a little bit.”
On how he feels after almost rallying his team to a Super Bowl berth
“I felt bad, obviously I feel bad. I mainly feel for Jay and the team. He’s been running this team the whole season, doing a great job fighting and making plays and you hate for it to come down to my first real game action in an important situation. I got into Carolina this year but we had the game in hand… I feel really bad for Jay to get injured like that. Obviously, he’s a fighter and wants to play. So that’s how I feel about it. Obviously, I don’t feel good. People are telling me congratulations. You threw two picks that’s the only time you are going to get congratulations when they don’t expect you to do anything.”
Earl Bennett, WR
On the Packers’ defense
“It wasn’t anything out of the ordinary that we thought we wouldn’t see. We didn’t execute.”
On finishing the season a game away from the Super Bowl
“It’s real tough. It’s tough to swallow but we took a step forward this year. We had some positive things happen, now we have to move on and get better.”
Tim Jennings, CB
On the game
“You have to tip your cap to the Packers. This is a great Chicago Bear team. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. We had a great year. It’s always disappointing when you fall short.”
On Caleb Hanie’s performance
“He went out there and laid it all out on the line. He came in, stepped up and played great. You have to take your hat off to the Green Bay defense. That’s a great team, but you have to tip your cap to Caleb and the whole offensive team effort. Caleb came in and gave us a good spark. We just fell a little short.”
On the halftime adjustments
“We decided to be a little bit more aggressive. We played a little bit more man, and added a little more pressure to get Rodgers to move around the pocket, and get rid of the ball quickly. We played great in the second half. We just fell short.”
Charles Tillman, CB
On if he considers this a successful season
“Yes. At the end of every season, there’s only going to be one team that can end it with a win and that’s the team that wins the Super Bowl. I don’t think we can hang our heads, because we went above and beyond what people think we should have done.”
On Caleb Hanie’s performance
“I thought his play was awesome. He came in there and I thought he showed tremendous poise on such short notice. For what they asked him to do, I thought he did a good job.”
On the opening drive
“I don’t think they did anything we didn’t expect. They just executed more than we did. We were playing hard and fighting. They just executed more than we did.”
Greg Olsen, TE
On Caleb Hanie’s performance
“He did a great job. Like I said, it’s a hard situation for anybody to come in, whether you’re a vet or whether you’re a young guy. For him to come in with that poise, I think that first series, he got us down for a touchdown. Maybe it was the second series he was in, he had a completion to Johnny [Knox] and we scored on the next play with Chester [Taylor] in the beginning of the fourth quarter to make it 14-7.
“With our defense playing the way they were we thought we’d either get a turnover for a touchdown or Devin for a touchdown. The offense was ready to score again. For whatever reason we just couldn’t get it going. We put that good drive together at the end, but came up short.”
Caleb Hanie is the QB for the Chicago Bears. The bears cannot bring back Jay Cutler or Todd Collins. Matt Forte gets a first, and Hanie scrambles for two. Matt Forte gets 11 on the next play. He's stepping up. Chester Taylor loses yards on the next play. It's second and 13, and Hanie hits Johnny Knox in stride, and he gets to the one yard line. Chester taylor puts his head down and goes in for the score!
The Bears kick deep, and James Starks takes it to the 24. Aaron Rodgers hands off to Starks, he's stuffed. They call Julius Peppers for helmet to helmet for 15 yards. He stays in, but Green Bay is called for a false start. Another penalty, for pass interference, another gift first down.
First and 10, from midfield. John Kuhn gets six on a screen. Starks gets two, and he's gang tackled. Big third and two coming up. A quick slant to Quarless goes incomplete, they'll punt.
Devin Hester lets it go. After some discussion, it's ruled a touchback. The Caleb Hanie led Chicago Bears will start from the 20 yard line with 9:19 left in the game. Matt Forte gets nothing on first down, on second down, Hanie is hit on his arm, and it's an incomplete. He sees the corner blitz, and throws it away on third down. The Bears will punt. It goes 24 yards,and the packers will have prime field position.
Aaron Rodgers will start from the Bears 44. A pass to Quarless is too low, another slant to Greg Jennings, another nine yards. A screen attempt is broken up by Israel Idonije, they'll punt. It goes out of bounds at the 10.
The Bears and Caleb Hanie have 7:22 to make something happen. A Matt Forte run gets two. A pass to Earl Bennett gets three. Hanie uses a timeout, as the play clock expires.
On third and five, Hanie is intercepted by B.J. Raji, who takes it in for the score.
On the kickoff, a floater to Rashied Davis is returned 16 yards to the 40. Hanie rolls out and hits Greg Olsen for a first. Earl bennett gets seven and is rocked. Matt forte pulls in a pass for the first. On the next play, Hanie hits Earl Bennett on the sideline, he goes in for a touchdown! An 81 second drive.
he Packers have their 'hands team' out, Robbie Gould squib kicks, and charles Woodsen brings it to the 25. Corey graham stuffs james Starks for a loss of a yard. He loses another yard, and is forced out of bounds, stopping the clock. Third and 12, and Aaron Rodgers is stopped by Lance briggs at the line of scrimmage. The Packers will punt.
Devin Hester is deep, he won't get far. the bears will start at their own 29, with 2:53 left, and two timeouts. Hanie makes a dangerous throw to Forte incomplete. Hanie pulls in a bad snap, and screens to Forte for a yard.
On third and nine, he beats the blitz and hits Greg olsen for the first, He goes out of bounds. Hanie's in trouble, and they make a terrible call for grounding. It's second and 20, a pass to Forte gets ten. Forte is tackled one yard short of the first down. The two minute warning stops play, and it'll be fourth and one with 1:54 left in the game.
Chester Taylor gets it, and Matt Forte crosses the Packers 35, and goes out of bounds. On first down, Hanie rolls out, and has to throw it away. On second down he finds Olsen for seven, he goes out of bounds. The Bears use their second timeout. Earl Bennett is hit behind the line of scrimmage, fourth abd four. Hanie is picked off, with 37 seconds left. The Packers will win 21-14.
Congratulations to the Green Bay Packers and their fans.
The Chicago Bears will receive to start the second half, and a quick score would certainly put them right back in this. Devin Hester breaks some tackles and brings the ball to the 40. They're saying Jay Cutler's knee is injured, but he's behind center. Matt Fore gets five on first down, one on second. Cutler throws too low for Hester, and they'll punt.
Brad Maynard kicks, and Corey Graham downs the ball at the Packer 17. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers will have the ball for the first time in the half. He has time, throws deep to greg Jennings, but Charles Tillman breaks it up. James Starks spins, and Israel Idonije lays him out, he gets two yards. On third down, he finds Jordy Nelson for 22 yards, and they're on their own 40. Another 20 to Jennings and they're in bears territory. James Starks turns the corner and gets nine, and it looks like the first drive of the game all over again.
But they smother Starks behind the line on second down, and James Jones drops a pass at the goal line. He gets the pass interference call, and it's first and goal from the eight. Starks spins for two yards, and second down is incomplete to Donald Driver. On third down Brian Urlacher intercepts and runs it back to the 45 yard line.
A huge, huge play for the Bears.
Todd Collins comes in for Cutler and goes incomplete on first down. And then a false start backs them up further. They say Cutler is questionable. Collins goes incomplete on second down, and it looks grim for the Bears.
Third and 15 and Collins appears to be intercepted, but on replay it shows the ball hit the ground. Lovie Smith challenges the call. The call is overturned, the Bears will punt.
Brad Maynard gets off a fair punt, and the Packers will start near their 20, with 8:26 left in the quarter. Rodgers gives to starks, but it's called back for holding. First and 20, A screen to Jennings gets a yard, and he gets 22 to Jennings on the next play.
From the 37, Starks is mobbed, they give him a yard. Rodgers is swarmed on the next play, but there's another hold. Second and 18, Rodgers gets 10 back on a pass to Jordy Nelson. Chicago is everywhere in the backfield, and Rodgers has to throw the ball away. They'll punt.
Devin Hester slips on the catch, and the Bears will start from behind the 20, with 4:29 on the clock.
Matt Forte is buried at the line of scrimmage, and he turs the corner for eight on second down. And another poorly thrown pass and the Bears are three and out.
Tramon Williams fumbles the punt, but the Packers recover, and get five more yards on an illegible man down field penalty. They'll start from the 32 yard line.
John Kuhn, is met by Brian Urlacher at the line of scrimmage, they give him two. Urlacher is a man possessed. He smothers Brandon Jackson for a loss of five. Rodgers has to hurry and he throws incomplete. The Packers will punt.
They have to rekick after a penalty. Caleb hanie, the Bears third string QB looks to be coming into the game. Earl Bennett is back, and he makes a nice return. The bears will start at the 33 yard line. Matt Forte runs for 11 yards. He gets four up the gut, on the nexy play. Time expires in the third quarter.
On second and eight, Jay Cutler just manages to get rid of it, avoiding a safety. On third and eight, Forte is corraled on the one yard line, and Brad Maynard will punt with little room to spare. Tramon Williams drops the ball, and gets it back, the Packers will start in Bears territory at the 44. A false start makes it first and 15, James Starks gets two, and is wrapped up by Tim Jennings. Brandon Jackson gets the short toss and jukes Brian Urlacher and gets the first. And James Starks gets 13 on the next play. It's first and ten inside the red zone at the 18.
Jordy Nelson gets the ball to the four, and it's first and goal. James Starks gets the touchdown.
So far, the Bears have no answers for the packers offense, and the short fields have killed them twice. The Bears need to make something happen here soon.
There's 11:13 left in the first half. Danieal Manning takes the ball out to the Bears 34. Cutler has lots of time and hits Johnny Knox for 24 yards. They're in Green Bay territory. Cutler can't connect with Devin Hester and it's second down from the 42. On second down, the blitz is coming and Cutler hits Chester Taylor on a screen, and he moves the chains. A first down bomb to Hester goes incomplete the play clock winds down before the next play, and Cutler has to take a timeout.
After the timeout, with 9:44 left to play, the Bears are moving. A Rashied Davis first down is called back on a hold. Cutler gets back 10 on a scramble, he takes a helmet shot. Third and 11, and Cutler can't find anyone open, he slides near the line of scrimmage. The Bears will punt.
It's a touchback, and the Packers will start from their 20. James Starks finds a huge hole and runs for ten. Rodgers runs for 25 yards on the next play, and there was no one near him. They're back in Bears territory, at the 45. James Starks gets nothing on a run, and Rodgers finds Greg Jennings for nine on second down. It's third and one, and Rodgers calls timeout. This is another big down for the Bears, they need a stop here.
A handoff to Starks loses a yard, and the Packers will punt. A Bears bounce put the ball at the 11. With 4:17 left on the clock, a pass to Matt forte goes incomplete. A defensive hold on second down, gets five yards and an automatic first down. From the 16, Cutler throws into traffic, for the second time. Greg Olsen is lucky to be able to knock the ball down.
A nice 13 yard run up the middle by Forte, and the bears get the first. He gets nothing on the next play, and a screen gets three, over the middle. It's third and about seven. The Bears will let the clock run down to the two minute warning.
From their own 33, Cutler is hit on a corner blitz.
After the punt, the Packers start from near their 40, Rodgers runs for a first. An incompletion, and another nine yard slant to Jennings. They fall forward for first down. With less than a minute left, Donald driver bobbles and Lance Briggs intercepts.
Cutler hits Forte, and he goes out of bounds after gaining 17. From the 41, Cutler rears back for Johnny Knox, and Cutler is intercepted. The Packers will have the ball deep in their own territory with 32 seconds left in the half. There's a booth review and the shaky call stands. It seemed clear the ball hit the ground
From the 11, the Packers kneel down, and the half is over.
Welcome to the NFC Championship game between the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears.
Robbie Gould kicks off for the Bears, Starks brings it out to the 15, two quick strikes from Aaron Rodgers to greg Jennings and the Packers are in Bears territory. A run and pass to James Starks brings the Packers into the red zone. A quick strike to Jordy Nelson makes it first and goal, and two plays later Aaron Rodgers runs to the outside, and scores.
With 10:50 left in the first quarter, the Bears will receive. They kick short to avoid Devin Hester, and Kellen Davis scoops it up at the 30, he gets to the Bears 37, and Jay Cutler will lead the Bears offense on their first drive. had Clifton took a knee to the head, on the Packers touchdown play, they're testing him on the sideline.
Matt Forte carries the ball for two, and on the next play orte gets 24 on a quick pass. From the Packers 44, Forte gets two on a run, On second down, Cutler has to hurry ona screen to Forte that gets one yard. Jay Cutler, with time, overthrows Devin Hester near the goal line. The Bears will punt.
Brad Maynard kicks it out of bounds at the Packers ten yard line.
The Packers wil take over without Chad lifton. James Starks goes 16 yards on a handoff. From the 26, Rodgers completes to James Jones for ten, and two plays later they get another first. From their 47, Rodgers airs it out long to Greg Jennings, but the pass is broken up by Charles Tillman. It's third and ten after an overthrow to Nelson, and John Kuhn can't haul a screen that Rodgers had to throw to avoid a sack. The Packers punt.
Devin hester gets the ball, but can't go anywhere, and the Bears will start from way back at their own 16, and are backed up by a false start on Chris Williams. Forte gets three on first and fifteen, he goes around end for six more, and it's third and six. Cutler is sacked for five yards and the bears will punt from deep in their own territory.
Tramon Williams runs it 11 yards to near midfield. ith 2:48 left in the first quarter, Aaron Rodgers hits Greg Jennings for 21 yards, so far they've just been shredding the Bears defense. From around the Bears 30, James Starks gets three around end. On second down, he gets maybe one yard. Third and six, and Rodgers is sacked ny Brian Urlacher, pulling him down at the 35, they'll punt.
Devin Hester lets it go, and the Packers will down it at the two, a Bears penalty makes it the one yard line. Forte falls forward for two yards as time expires.
With under two hours left before the NFC Championship game between the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears, we've finally run out of things to talk about. Regardless of the outcome of today's game, I have to tell you how much I've enjoyed talking football with you this year, and how much I look forward to doing so again. Thank you to SB Nation Chicago editor Al Yellon, and everyone else who writes for the site. And thank you for taking time out of your day to read here, whether you've been following all along, or if this is your first time.
Regardless of how eager you are for the start of today's game, it's important to tend to your other business beforehand, so there's no distractions come kickoff. The SB Nation Chicago bunker is warm, and on a day like today, you don't want to be out in the elements if you don't have to. Some things however, cannot be avoided.
Once the dogs needs have been cheerfully met, and you can seal yourself back up into your bunker, it's time to plan for the game. A lot of people are eating healthier now, and spending lots of money on snacks that are both light and nutritious. We applaud the trend toward healthy eating at the SB Nation Chicago Bunker, but you don't have to spend a lot to eat right. We're making our own game-time snacks, we love how good they make us feel!
Some buns, a little mustard and onions, and you'd swear you're on Maxwell Street.
Thanks again for stopping in at the Playoff bunker. Keep checking here for game updates all day.
Are you still considering going to the game this afternoon at Soldier Field, despite the fresh snow on the ground and the forecast high in the lower 20s?
There are still tickets available for sale on StubHub; as of about 8:30 this morning there were about 600 tickets for sale, but at the time of this post that number had dropped to 443.
The prices of the tickets has also dropped; at the earlier time I checked, the cheapest ticket was $325, for one of the corners of the highest level at Soldier Field. At 9:45 a.m. CST the lowest price was $314, for the south end zone in one of the highest rows. There were lower-level corner seats available for $393 each (sold in a pair), which isn’t that much higher than face value.
Patience may be your best bet if you still want to go; there’s more than four hours until game time and these sellers aren’t going to want to eat the tickets. If you wait — but not too long — you might be able to get into Soldier Field for not too much above face.
And one more thing. Don’t go down there and buy tickets from someone outside the stadium. Counterfeiting seems to get easier every year, and every year there are reports from people who paid many times over face value for tickets to big Cubs games who wind up out their money and not in the park, because they bought a realistic-looking fake ticket. Buying from Stubhub at least gives you a guarantee that if you buy invalid tickets, they’ll try to find legitimate ones, or get you a refund.
Good luck — and maybe the best bet today is sitting at home, warm, in front of your TV.
The NFC Championship game between the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears will kickoff at 2:00 p.m. CST (3:00 EST) after a very long week of rivalry stories, windy predictions, and anticipation. There has never been a bigger game between these two teams. For those of you who were concerned about the weather?
Fear not, the temperature is expected to shoot up to 16F. Personally, I'm going to be wearing thermal underwear, snowpants, a hoodie, a Jay Cutler #6 Jersey, two pairs of socks, snow boots, and my Bears parka.
And I'm watching the game at home.
If you're going to the game today, dress warm and remember: Alcohol may give you the sensation of warmth, so have a drink or two.
If for some reason, you're not going to be able to watch either this, or the AFC Championship game, you can get quarterly updates on both games here. You can add @sbnchicago and @BabylonDon1 to your Twitter account, and be informed of every 2011 playoff update on SB Nation Chicago
The NFC Championship game between the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears will kick off as scehduled, Sunday at 2:00 CST (3:00 EST)
Who Are You Going To Believe, Me Or Your Lying Eyes?: For those of you who are still concerned about the notion of an athletic event taking place on grass, chins up. All is well. NFL spokesman Greg Aielllo reports that "Game Ops say Soldier Field in good shape". There are heaters under tarps, and heated coils under the surface of the field.
Most interesting is the fact the NFL has something called 'Game Ops', which sounds like some deep-cover group of elite, covert, landscapers.
Injury Report: Bears safety Chris Harris, who has been battling a hip injury all week, practiced Friday. He's determined to play, although he's listed as questionable. Lovie Smith called it a game-time decision, and if there's any way Harris can go, he will. Rookie Major Wright has filled in well for Harris as a substitute, but the Bears would prefer Harris' veteran presence in a game this big, against the quick Packers receivers.
Pisa Tinoisamoa practiced with the special teams unit Friday, and is not listed on the injury report.
Packer linebacker Frank Zombo (knee) will not play Sunday, and offensive lineman Jason spitz is questionable witha calf injury. The Packers have ten players listed as probable.
Insult Report: The NFL had four divisional round football games last weekend. The NFL Network has midweek programming called 'NFL Replay', all year long they showed truncated versions of the best four football games of the given week. It airs on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, an hour and fifteen minutes for each game..
This week the NFL Network broadcasted 'NFL Replay' on Tuesday and Wednesday. The Packers and Falcons, and Jets and Patriots on Tuesday, an hour and fifteen minutes. And on Wednesday, they used the first fifteen minutes to air the Ravens and Steelers, and the second hour and fifteen minutes to...the Ravens and Steelers.
With four games played, and four games to show, the NFL Network showed three. The Bears and Seahawks game didn't get aired until noon on Thursday, while most of the country was at work.
This Bears team has been undervalued, underappreciated, and most importantly, underestimated, since training camp. If you were one of the few who saw some spark of potential, or like me, gave them the benefit of the doubt because they're your team?
Congratulations, it's been a hell of a ride, hasn't it?
For those of you who spent the pre-season, and the first half of the year doubting, and calling for rampant change, and mocking the team and it's fans who disagreed with you?
All is forgiven, plenty of room on the bandwagon.
And, oh yeah...We told you so.
Finally: "The Bears and the Packers -- something you see every night in West Hollywood." - Bill Maher
Keep your eye on SB Nation Chicago, we will be keeping you updated on all the week's NFL news along with live reports during both games. Add @sbnchicago and @BabylonDon1 to your Twitter account, and be informed of every 2011 playoff update on SB Nation Chicago
With one day left before the historic NFC Championship game between the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears, we find that the wait is making us a bit silly. So here are some Saturday morning tid-bits designed to entertain. Check back later today for last minute-updates, and don't forget we'll be providing in depth live updates throughout the game tomorrow.
Letters, We Get Letters: I occasionally get e-mails from some enterprising soul, that has a product that they feel would be of interest to readers here. Such is the case with an e-mail I received regarding a company called Stargreetz.Here is description of the company from the mail:
StarGreetz is a digital media company that creates personalized, star-powered audio and video messages for online and mobile platforms. The company’s state of the art technology uses the actual voices and images of popular celebrities and iconic characters
The 'popular celebrities and iconic characters' include such notables as Reba McEntire, Verne (mini me) Troyer, the real Batman Adam West, and Chicago's very own running back, Matt Forte. Forte will greet the person of your choice with a Valentine, birthday, get-well, even a Mother's Day message, provided Mom's not a Green Bay fan.
Other football icons available for your ring tone and e-greetings are Maurice Jones-Drew, and Joe Namath. Although maybe it's not a good idea to let Broadway Joe record a message to your girlfriend.
The Number One Threat To Wisconsin? BEARS!: Two grizzly bears from the Brookfield Zoo feasted on a football and a Cheesehead with the Green Bay Packers logo. They were filled with meat and vegetables. The reason that the cheesehead wasn't sitting on top of a Packers fan's head at the time, is because the zoo doesn't like for the bears to have a lot of 'empty calories'.
Sunday the Chicago Bears host the Green Bay Packers at Soldier Field for the NFC Championship and a trip to Dallas to play in the Super Bowl. Today, Jay Cutler spent his time behind the podium at Halas Hall, basically reassuring the press corps that that everything is going to be all right.
Will he play differently? More conservatively? "No, I've had the same attitude all year. You know, if we've got the first down, try to slide. If I've got to get hit or something like that, I'm going to do it. Whatever it takes at this point."
Is the offense ready?"We’re ready to play," he said. "I think we’ve had a great week of practice. Offensively, the guys are ready to go. I know everyone’s excited. We just have to stay calm. I’m sure there is going to be a lot of jitters early on, but we have to settle down rather quickly in that game and execute our game plan."
What about the Packers blitzing? "We’re going to handle it. Our offensive line has a good feel about what they’re going to do. They might not necessarily bring the house every time.... They might play a little more zone to throw us off. I’m sure there is going to be some new wrinkles so we’re just going to have to feel it out as the game goes by."
And my personal favorite question of the day, is it more important to play well against Green Bay "No. I haven’t thought about it. I’m not going to think about it. If we were playing whoever in this game, I’d want to play well. It doesn’t matter if it’s Green Bay. I know the importance of this game. I just want to play well because we’re in the NFC Championship."
Which of course, was the only correct answer. I always want the Bears to beat the Packers. But I always want them to beat everyone else. If Jay Cutler could play better against the Green Bay Packers, that would mean he wasn't playing hard enough against everyone else, wouldn't it? And shouldn't the NFC Championship game itself be enough of an incentive to play really, really hard?
And the press wonders why the guy treats them like a nuisance.
Lovie Smith was asked if he thought this match-up was a possibility when the Bears played the Packers in Week 17. He replied, On if he thought the Packers could advance to the championship game when they played in Week 17, "I knew that one way that we could end up hosting the championship game was for them to make a run and end up beating the one seed so I feel like everything has worked out. It has really helped us. I know they’re in the playoffs, but feel like they’ve helped us as much as anything, too."
One thing that both Cutler and Lovie both took note of, was the steady progress the team has made over the course of the season. There is no indication that this team has reached it's peak yet.
The one thing about this Sunday's NFC Championship game between the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears, no matter which side you're on, is this: You'll never forget it.
If your team wins, they're going to the Super Bowl. If your team loses, the fans of the winning team will never let you forget it. Ever.
We're like that, even when the games don't especially matter. In 2006, The Bears played the Packers in the last game of the season. The Bears had already locked up home field throughout the playoffs, the Packers weren't going to the post-season.
The Packers won that last game, and my voicemail was filled with messages from gloating Green Bay fans, hooting about the way they whipped up on the Bears. It's an animosity that defies reason. I've always liked to think that Bears fans are just a little classier about the whole thing (Yes, I'm sure you have a story about someone you know, that disproves my theory), mostly because of geography.
For the most part, when a Bears fan walks out of wherever they were watching football, they're in a place. A metropolis, filled with restaurants, clubs, museums; a place that teems with vitality. I don't want to get all Carl Sandburg about it but it's Chicago, heralded in song, poem, and story.
When a Packers fan leaves whatever place they watched the game at, they're in Wisconsin. In winter. The only thing the surrounding area offers is hypothermia. It tends to make you fixate more on the sporting event you just witnessed, when there's nothing much to distract you.
And Chicago fans? Don't be afraid to bring up the past, the '85 Bears etc. Because I promise you, every single Green Bay Packers fan will tell you they used to go to Soldier Field when Brett Favre was routinely dominating the Bears. And I further promise you, they'll use the phrase 'Lambaugh Field South'.
But don't let it bother you. It's all they know.
Later today, we'll have more quotes from the Bears players and coaches, along with all the news, notes, injuries and insults. If you scroll down to the bottom of this page, there's a poll. Give us your pick for Sunday's game. Right now the Packers seem to be the popular choice.
Keep your eye on SB Nation Chicago, we will be keeping you updated on all the week's NFL news along with live reports during every game. Add @sbnchicago and @BabylonDon1 to your Twitter account, and be informed of every 2011 playoff update on SB Nation Chicago
On September 11, 1995, the Bears played the Packers in a Monday night game at Soldier Field. Brett Favre was a young quarterback who hadn’t exposed anything but his right arm back then and Soldier Field still had artificial turf. The Packers won the old NFC Central with an 11-5 record that year and the Bears, under Dave Wannstedt, finished 9-7.
But that Monday night, someone other than a Bear or Packer caught a football:
Mike Pantazis, from “the North Side of Chicago”, got his 15 minutes of fame — not only making a great catch, but not getting hurt and getting interviewed by Lynn Swann on ABC. The Bears lost the game 27-24, but this one deserves another look.
The NFC Championship game between the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers kicks off at 2:00 p.m. CST Sunday (3:00 EST), and the Bears have clearly been cast as the Navy-and-Orange headed stepchild of the final four teams. If the Bears win the Super Bowl, the next day headlines will read 'Bears Unlikely To Repeat As Super Bowl Champs'. That's just the way it's been.
Old Bears Never Die: They just turn purple. The Minnesota Vikings hired former San Francisco 49ers head coach and Bears linebacker great Mike Singletary as linebackers coach/assistant to the head coach. The head coach he'll be assisting is his old defensive mate from the '85 Bears, Leslie Frazier. Although he had marginal success as a head coach, you can't deny that Mike Singletary understands the linebacker position as well as anyone in the game.
Is This The 'Chess Game'? Are We Playing Now?: Mike Martz took on the blame for the Bears' loss in Week 17, when the Bears had nothing to play for, "I did not do a good job calling the game at all, really. I probably got away from some things. We tried to create some things on first down in the passing game that I thought would be good. We just didn’t
execute very well, we didn’t play very well and certainly didn’t coach very well in that game. It was uncharacteristic of who we are."
The Bears largely abandoned a running game that had Matt Forte averaging 6.1 yards a pop. But Chicago kept their starters in the whole game. They must have been trying with all their might to keep the oh-so-dangerous Green Bay Packers out of the playoffs, right? Packer running back Ryan Grant isn't entirely convinced. He stood on the sidelines that day with an injury, and here's what he believes he saw, "Honestly, it didn’t look like necessarily that they might have been giving it their all...This is a different atmosphere. They’re going to want this game."
When the Bears say anything, they tend to be guarded. It's the Lovie Smith way. When anyone connected with the Bears talks about Week 17, there's definitely an 'aw shucks, we lost that one.' feel to their words. Is there bluffing in chess?
Injury Report: For the Bears, safety Chris Harris (hip) did not participate in practice. Rookie Major Wright took over the all the snaps at Harris' position Wednesday. Cornerback Zackary Bowman and receiver Earl Bennett were also absent form practice, for non injury related reasons.
For the Packers, linebacker Frank Zombo (knee), did not participate. Tackle Chad Clifton (knees), DE Cullen Jenkins (calf), RB John Kuhn (shoulder), CB Patrick Lee (hip), LB Clay Matthews (shin), DE Ryan Pickett (ankle) and C Jason Spitz (calf) were all held to limited participation.
Injuries have been one of the stories of the Green Bay Packers season this year, and the Bears are enjoying an unusually healthy season this year. Advantage, Bears.
Insult Report: Serial retiree Brett Favre, who gets a debilitating case of the chills whenever there's not a spotlight shining on him, has picked his old team the Packers, over the team that hand-delivered his latest batch of retirement papers, the Bears. Calling them the best team "by far" left in the tournament, he's picking them to win it all. And if you can't trust Brett Favre's decision making abilities, whose can you trust?
NFL Network analysts Moose Johnston and Trent Green discussed the horrible, horrible playing surface of Soldier Field. Chicago's playing surface has been a topic of complaint for the entireity of the season. An off-hand comment by Packers receiver Greg Jennings led to some over the top speculation that the NFL might force the Bears to re-sod Soldier Field. That was based on a 1999 incident at Lambeau that was in no way similar to the conditions at Soldier Field.
So after all the discussion about how this playing surface is singular, unique in its sheer awfulness, who do Trent and Moose think the terrain favors?
The Packers, of course. For reasons that are really just more reasons to pile more mad love on Aaron Rodgers. He's quite an athlete as it turns out. Too bad the Bears don't have a mobile quarterback who's played 17 games on that surface.
The winner of this week's most repulsive Bears-bashing exchange this week comes from a reality tv performer whose watched a lot of post-season football at home, and a gap-toothed soft-drink pitchman. Terrell Owens and Michael Strahan, on whatever so-bad-it's-a-sign-of-the-apocalypse TV show where they give these two braying jackasses free rein, managed to mock Jay Cutler, the color-blind, and the impoverished, in a sort of hat-trick for knobs.
Owens, who uses his head only as a life-support system for his mouth, and a display case for ugly jewelry, said that Cutler was his least favorite QB still playing, showed his football awareness of last year by calling Cutler color-blind, as in 'he can't tell what color jerseys to throw toward'.
Not to be outdone, Strahan crowed, "Once he gets some pressure, he starts slinging the ball around like free loaves of bread in the 'hood." Man! Is there anything funnier than the mental picture of poor people desperately scrambling for food? They're SO hungry!
And A Special Insult For You, The Bears Fan: Yes you. You're dumb. Just ask Steve Rosenbloom. Now shut up.
Talk, Talk: Wednesday afternoon was press conference day for the teams remaining in the Super Bowl hunt. The Chicago Bears were represented by quarterback Jay Cutler, linebacker Lance Briggs, running back Matt Forte, and head coach Lovie Smith. The Green Bay Packers sent head coach Mike McCarthy, cornerback Charles Woodson, quarterback Aaron Rodgers, and receiver Greg Jennings. The Green Bay press questions were mostly softballs, lollipops, and praise for Aaron Rodgers. The Chicago conference was mainly dicussions of the history of the rivalry, and praise for Aaron Rodgers.
When asked about his sense of 'urgency' to win a Super Bowl, due to his age, Lance Briggs had this to say, "I’m 30. I’m not dead. I don’t see it that way. I don’t know how many years I’ll get to play, or all of us on the team will get to play, but we’re going to enjoy it. Obviously it’s not easy to get to the Super Bowl so I think that, more than anything else – it’s just
not easy. So it’s hard fought. We haven’t been there in years. It’s precious."
Lovie Smith was asked about the Bears being the underdogs in their home playoff game, "It's definitely been a part of what we have dealt with this year. You know, coming out of nowhere ... it's not like a lot of people expected us to be in this position. The Packers were supposed to be in this position .... but to me in the playoffs, it's pretty hard to say a team should be an underdog in the playoffs.
"We played them, of course, twice this year and had two great games. The last game up at their place went right up until the end. I expect it to be the same type of game. Whether we're the underdog or not, we will see."
When Chicago Bear running back Matt Forte was asked to compare quarterbacks Cutler and Rodgers, he replied, "Well, I haven’t played with Aaron, but Jay is a great quarterback. He makes plays with his feet and also he’s smart with the football, and he’s definitely got a great arm. He’s a great all-around quarterback." The half-smile on his face suggested that he shares Jay Cutler's, Lovie Smith's, and Brian Urlacher's views on tolerating the press. They all have a tolerant but somewhat impatient demeanor, at these conferences. It's a symbiotic relationship, even if it's not an amiable one.
We'll have some more gems from today's press conferences tomorrow morning. Plus why even a poison pill like Terrell Owens, who will be spending another post-season at home, feels comfortable smack-talking Jay Cutler. and Greg Jennings doesn't hate the Soldier Field turf that much
Earlier today, SB Nation Chicago’s David Miller wrote this commentary on our Deep Dish about Fox and the NFL selecting American Idol singer and Chicago native Lee DeWyze to sing the National Anthem at Sunday’s NFC Championship Game. 73% of SB Nation Chicago readers answering the poll in that post said they wanted Jim Cornelison to sing it, as he did on Sunday.
Late today, the NFL and Fox-TV changed their minds; Cornelison will sing the anthem after all:
Fox officials said today that Jim Cornelison, who belts out the national anthem at Chicago Blackhawks games, will sing the Star Spangled Banner at Sunday’s Bears-Packers game.
There had been speculation that it would be Lee DeWyze, a Mount Prospect native who won “American Idol” last year. He had Tweeted Monday: “National Anthem at home, yes. Go Bears.”
But Fox said DeWyze would perform at halftime instead.
This is great news. Cornelison’s wonderful renditions of the National Anthem at Blackhawks games are stirring and beloved by Blackhawks fans. When the Blackhawks brought the Stanley Cup to Wrigley Field last June 13, Cornelison sang the anthem there, to the cheers of the sellout crowd, and now he’ll do it two weeks in a row leading into Bears playoff games.
Good call, NFL and Fox.
There's no injuries to report on yet. Chris Harris, who left the Seahawks game with a hip injury has vowed to play in this historic match-up, and as of this write up there's been no new IR reports so we'll reach into the Great Big Drum O' Insults (it's just the old Bozo Drum from the Grand Prize Game, repainted) and pick some random nuggets of disrespect for your Chicago Bears!
The Slings and Arrows Of Outrageous Fortune-Tellers: The moment that time expired on the Bears victory over the Seattle Seahawks in the Divisional Playoff round, the oddsmakers in Las Vegas momentarily spat out their giant novelty cigars, shot the cuffs from under their sharkskin suits, and installed the Green Bay Packers as three point favorites in the NFC Championship game.
The Green Bay Packers, the second place in the NFC North, visiting team Green Bay Packers, are the favorite. The oddsmakers must have been listening to every cable sports show on television, and subscribing to the Chicago papers. The Bears are the least respected number two seed since the U.S. invaded Grenada.
And yes, the Bears have a better record than they did, too.
It's Good To Befuddle The King: But Vegas guys named 'Lefty' and 'Tony Flapjacks' aren't the only people who literally wrote the Bears off. SI.com's Peter King, in his Monday Morning Quarterback column's 'Fine Fifteen' included all four of the teams that still remain in the playoffs. So how did the Bears fare?
Why, they're number five, of course.
They're ranked below all three of the other teams still in the tournament including both of the number six seeds that they've already defeated, and the New England Patriots, who have been eliminated.
It's no longer surprising to me, and I don't get angry about it either. It's been this way all year. I guess I just assumed that at some point logic based on the observation of results would eventually demand that all these 'professionals' get it right.
And after all, while it's disheartening in some ways, it's still the best thing that could happen for the Bears. They thrive on being unloved, every slight or show of disrespect seems to further strengthen their resolve. So, let the critics have their day.
But just between you and me? The Bears are probably going to win the NFC Championship. Regardless of what they say, or the official record.
The Bears are 1-Oh, whatever, against the Packers this year. The Packers, executing a game plan, and mustering all the intensity of a team that needed a win to make the playoffs, beat a Chicago team that had nothing to play for.
By seven points.
If you want to believe in Aaron Rodgers infallibility, if you're starry-eyed over his gaudy numbers, explain the one touchdown performance of the Green Bay Packers, in their most important game of the regular season.
Do you think that the fact Lovie Smith left his offensive starters in, means that they game-planned a victory? Explain the pass/run ratio. 18 runs to 39 passes? Explain the rare sightings of Rashied Davis and Devin Aromashodu as targets in the second half.
The Packers were playing for the post-season, and the Bears were scrimmaging. And the final score was 10-7 Packers.
Stalin Used To Do The Same Thing: The man who beat out a convicted animal abuser, several illegal gun owners, steroid abusers, and reality show stars, to become Rick Reilly's 'Most hated man in the NFL' has donated a very generous prize package, to a children's charity. You can win NFC Championship game tickets, a hotel stay, $1,500 in stipends, and other gifts.
But until he starts being nicer to David Haugh, he's still a big jerk.
Keep your eye on SB Nation Chicago, we will be keeping you updated on all the week's NFL news along with live reports during every game. Add @sbnchicago and @BabylonDon1 to your Twitter account, and be informed of every 2011 playoff update on SB Nation Chicago
Want tickets for Sunday's NFC Championship game? Maybe you'll be in luck today and you can get tickets at face value.
The Bears are putting a limited number of tickets on sale today at 2 p.m. CST at this Ticketmaster site. Prices range (including taxes and fees) from $141.91 to $605.35 -- and yes, those are face value tickets.
Don't expect a lot of tickets to be left, though. The same site has a "Club Season Ticket Holder Presale" at 11 a.m. today; many of whatever's available may be sold through that presale.
If you can't buy tickets that way, you might try StubHub, where, as of 8 a.m. Tuesday, there were 5,943 tickets for sale -- that's nearly 10% of the capacity of Soldier Field. The least expensive ticket listed -- for nearly the last row in the upper level in the north end zone (section 354) -- was $445. It'll cost you $600 to get in the corner of the end zone in the lower level (section 146), and there are tickets listed for as much as $15,000 (for the United Club on the 300 level). Lower level seats around midfield are in the $2500-$2600 range.
This Sun-Times article examines the hype; many say this is "the biggest game in the history of Chicago sports", but the article points out that, for example, the 1963 NFL title game at Wrigley Field was for the overall championship in those pre-Super Bowl days. Nevertheless, this is a huge game due to the rivalry, the first playoff meeting between the two teams in 69 years, and the fact that the winner goes to the Super Bowl.
Whatever you do, if you are going for a secondary market ticket, please be careful and use a legitimate reseller like StubHub. There were many stories, during the 2005 World Series, of people buying realistic-looking counterfeit tickets on the street outside the Cell and being out hundreds of dollars without getting to see the game.
If you believe in ghosts, you'll want to stay away from Soldier Field this Sunday. In fact, anywhere between Wisconsin's Lambeau Field and downtown Chicago might not be safe. And they'll be big ghosts too! Some will be in shoulder pads, some in leather helmets, but all of them will have an angry look in their eyes.
You know, for this one? The whole Midwest might be thick with otherworldly travelers:
"Is this Heaven?"
"Iowa?!? #%&! I need to get to Chicago before kickoff!"
Oh baby, this rivalry goes back so far, they could air the game on the History Channel! The last time it meant this much, they hadn't put all the fires out on Pearl Harbor yet. In fact, the first time these two teams met, Americans were still cursing Kaiser Wilhelm for World War I. When the first bad blood was spilled in this rivalry, zippers were a new idea, and you still had to hand crank your car to start it.
Bears fans learn their dislike for the Packers at the knees of their fathers, and grandfathers. Packer backers' hatred for Chicago is handed down from generation to generation, bequeathed, like land or grandma's wedding ring.
And 182 games later, another generation will curse the enemy anew. Because this one matters. The NFC Championship game. And because of the opponent? For many Bears and Packers fans, this is bigger than the Super Bowl.
Not that every one of them doesn't want their team to win the Super Bowl; of course they do.
But seldom will you see people who want to defeat their opponent so badly.
So if you love a Bears fan, this may be a long week for you, be patient with them. Their emotions will run high this week. But it's out of their control. Animosity towards Green Bay is so ingrained in them, it might as well be part of their DNA.
And if someone you hold dear is a Packer fan, I'm sorry.
The SBN Chicago Playoff Bunker will be up and running for the duration of the playoffs. We'll be providing news, notes, updates, injuries, insults and quarter-by-quarter reports for both the NFC and the AFC Championship games. We'll be talking Bears/Packers all week long right here, including how the Bears let the Pack in the playoffs and wondering why Aaron Rodgers makes the Media squeal like tween girls at a Justin Bieber concert. And why they treat Jay Cutler like their romantic rival for Edward Cullen.
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