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NFC Championship Game: Bears Postgame Quotes, Lovie Smith, Caleb Hanie, Brian Urlacher

Lovie Smith, coach

Opening Statement

“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.”

On if he thought the Bears could win the game after he threw the touchdown pass to Earl Bennett in the fourth quarter

“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.”