Before we move onto the minute by minute report of yesterdays disaster at Soldier Field, we here at VFLOAB would like to remind everyone that today is Martin Luther the King Day and he truly is one the greatest Americans to grace this Earth. While King is a ‘trendy’ guy to list as one’s favorite or most admired persons, he still is probably over looked in the grand scheme of things. I’m not sure people realize how much work King actually put into his life and how his non-violent message is one that we should all, especially the current White House, should embrace. And while we can argue the amount of actual social change that was brought about by all of King’s work, the important thing to remember is King brought this struggle front and center in American life and history. His non-violent message took anyway any sort of bigoted ‘moral high ground’ whites may have tried to use, and King’s desire for justice and equality makes him a hero. While things are far from perfect in this country social, racially, or economically; King was one of the many leader who spoke out about the injustice in this country and his non-violent message and actions are ones that we should still admire today. So today, VFLOAB encourages everyone to not only remember Martin Luther the King today, but also all the other black and white and Hispanic and Asian leaders who have strived for social, racial, and economic change over the years in this country: people like Fred Hampton, Dorothy Day, Caesar Chavez, Malcolm X, Jane Adams, and others today. And also realize that we still have a long way to go to realize the dreams of King and others.
Okay on to yesterday…
Since the running journal/minute by minute report worked so well for the White Sox, I figure I’ll give it go with the Bears too, it being the playoffs at all. When it ain’t broke, don’t fix it right? And if you were to tell me back when the Sox were making their run that the Bears would be hosting a home playoff game in Chicago in January… well I would said something like, “Yeah and Jack Bauer is alive too.” Needless to say I was wrong on both accounts.
4:25pm – We’re coming to you LIVE from Alexandria, VA today for the Bears and Panthers NFC Divisional Playoff game. Right now all we’ve got is some water, but the possibilities of beer, chips, and brats being consumed during this game are extremely high.
4:27 – The Colts just choked (again) losing to the Steelers about five minutes ago and their season is over. It’s now official, the Colts and Peyton Manning are the biggest chokes this side of the A-Rod and the Yankees in the 21st century. How do the Colts lose a game with the fix in? Even the officials couldn’t prevent the Colts from choking. Amazing.
4:29 – What happened to Jimmy Johnson’s hair? Wow it looks horrible. It’s not even that he’s losing it he just looks weird. Wow I wasn’t ready for that.
4:32 – I’m not that superstitious, but right now I’m listening to “Let’s Go, Go White Sox” and “Bear Down Chicago Bears” will be fired up in a second too. Let’s just hope that the powers of the White Sox and October will hold over to the Bears. Hell we even have Joe Buck doing the game. This has to be a good sign right?
4:40 – It’s 42 degrees and some what windy at Soldier Field… I’m a nervous wreck… man I forgot how nerve racking rooting for sport teams can be.
4:41 – The Bears kickoff to the Panthers and return it to the 40. Not good.
4:42 – On the first play the Panthers throw a quick screen to Steve Smith for a one-yard gain. More importantly I’m more scared of Steve Smith than Dick Chaney at this point. He led the league in catches, yards, and touchdowns… yet wasn’t the MVP (go figure) and was probably the MVP of most fantasy leagues.
4:43 – And as I write that, Smith catches the ball wide open and takes it to the house. A flag is thrown but it’s on Charles Tillman, I guess getting pushed and run over by Steve Smith is now a penalty for the D… this sucks. Smith pushed Tillman to the ground (granted Tillman was looking at the backfield so had his back to Smith but he was pushed none the less), and that was why he was wide open. Talk about a bummer. This stinks. I will now drown myself in a toilet.
4:48 – You couldn’t write a worse start. Steve Smith pushes Tillman and goes to the house, Bears O goes three and out, and then Brad Maynard shanks a punt to give the Panthers great field position. I’m going to start drinking.
4:53 – The Panthers thankfully go three and out and the first commercial going into the break is the “This is Budweiser, this is beer” commercial which not only makes me want to drink it also puts me in a good mood. So the Newcastle is open and the night is beginning.
5:00 – DeShawn Foster just got JACKED UP by Chris Harris. That was good, we needed that.
5:08 – On third and five, the Panthers blitz and Grossman throws the ball up, but the good news is that the receiver got pushed and pass interference was called and the drive continues. But talk about scary moments, any time you see a QB throw a ball up off his back foot high into the air, hearts stop.
5:11 – It’s official, Rex Grossman is going to give me a heart attack by the end of the game. He almost just threw a pick…
5:12 – And disaster… Gage catches a screen but fumbles the ball. Julius Peppers picks the ball up and goes the other way for the touchdown. The Bears are going to challenge the play and their only real hope is that Gage’s knee was down. And this is also why I hate the NFL… commercial break! Nothing says annoying like cutting to commercial when a big play or decision is on the line. I’m not that bitter, I swear. I just hate life at the moment.
5:16 – And the refs get that call right. Gage fumbled the ball, but his knee was down (therefore there was never a fumble) so the points get whipped off the board and the Bears keep the ball. There is hope! And hope is a good thing!
5:24 – Brian Urlacher’s speed never ceases to amaze me. He just made a play that probably no one else can make in the NFL today shooting through the middle of the line to make a big tackle.
5:25 – Steve Smith is the anti-Christ. Tillman and Smith both catch the ball on the Bears three, but the tie goes to the offensive player. Shoot me please.
5:29 – The Bears D holds the Panthers to just a field goal. It’s now 10-0 but things could be a lot, lot worse. Steve Smith has to be the anti-Christ. Has to be.
5:34 – Grossman throws another ball up for grabs and again luckily the ball falls harmlessly to the ground. The good thing about the 2005 White Sox was that no one on that team scared me. Sure the fact that Pods couldn’t steal a base in the second half was a bit of a bummer and there was a time when Luis Vizcaino scared me. But by the time the playoffs started there wasn’t one player that I didn’t want to see come into the game. Rex Grossman on the other hand scares me like no other.
5:40 – Wow. How Brian Urlacher just jumped and picked off that ball beats me. Huge play, instead of the Panthers probably getting a field goal, the Bears now have the ball on the Panthers 30. Just a huge play.
5:48 – Foster just fumbled the ball… but it bounces right into his arms and the Panthers continue to march down the field. Bears need a stop. Though a pick going the other way would be cool too.
5:54 – The Panthers kick another field goal and it’s 13-0. The Bears D has already giving up 230 yards (though the two Smith plays account for almost half of that yardage). And I’ve got to say, Oasis is solid band. They’re not the greatest band of all time, but they’re catchy and get the job done. So this is for you Liam, I raise my Newcastle to you (even though you’re a ManCity fan). And why I know that… well I know why I know that, but I shouldn’t.
5:56 – Grossman is 3 for 15 so far today. The Bears have been able to run the ball a bit, but not enough to make me think that ‘it’s only a matter of time’. Grossman is killing me right now, killing me. This must be what it’s like to root for Kerry Wood.
5:58 – And just like that Grossman throws back to back to back completions for 17, 24, and 12 yards. And all of a sudden the Bears are inside the 10!
6:02 – My oh my how did Gage not score there! He catches it on the one and isn’t able to stretch the ball across the goal line, he looked certain to score. It was a nice tackle, but Gage should still have gotten that ball across. So now at the two-minute warning it’s 4th and goal from two feet out out.
6:04 – The Bears go for it and score! 13-6! Andean Peterson reaches to get the ball across the goal line. The extra point is good and it’s 13-7 Panthers. Yeah baby!
6:10 – The crowd is going nuts and back into this game. Finally, I’m no longer bitter, but that does mean I’m nervous again. Nervousness is better than bitterness… so I’ve got that going for me.
6:16 – The Panthers hit a field goal as time expires in the first half and it’s 16-7. The Bears do get the ball and the D can’t be any worse than it was in the first half, so we’ve got that going for us… anyway, halftime and I’m taking a break.
6:33 – Thomas Jones just rolls off a 24 run and the Bears are back in business as the second half begins.
6:37 – Right now Bernard Berrian is one of the few players on the Bears making plays. He had a nice first half, had a big block on Jones’ run before, then just made a nice catch for a first down and now just made a huge catch some how holding on to the ball while getting jacked up on the two of the Panthers. Good start thus far for the Bears in the second half.
6:38 – Touchdown Bears!!! Desmond Clark catches a fade in the end zone for six! The extra point is good and it’s a 16-14 game. And Soldier Field is rocking.
6:42 – It’s the King!!! And he’s dumping Gatorade on Don Schula! Oh the King, you amazing little idea turned commercial that never gets old. I want a King sitcom… he’d just go around as the King for an entire episode as a character of a previous sitcom. For instance one week he’d be Kramer, so everything would be the same (same plot and lines and everything), but they’d juxtapose the King as Kramer. The next week he could be Rachel from “Friends” and Jack Bauer another week. Wouldn’t that be great? And who wouldn’t watch that? Who will the King be this week?!?! And can you image how amazing an episode of The King as Chuck Norris would be? This has to happen. This week the King is… CHUCK NORRIS!!! I’m gitty just thinking about it.
6:47 – As Steve Smith catches another pass, Fox shows Foster on the bench in a lot of pain. It looks like a knee or ankle injury. Although Foster hasn’t had a huge game, he’s keeping the Bears honest. So this might be huge. Then again Steve Smith is the anti-Christ so it probably doesn’t matter.
6:51 – And the first sack of the day goes to the Bears! Delhomme also lost the ball but the Panthers recover (though it looks like he was down anyway). Panthers are forced to punt and the momentum is in the Bears favor.
7:00 – The Panthers complete another short pass over the middle, they’ve been able to get chunks of yards off of screens and dump offs, but they haven’t had a big play since the bomb to Smith when he and Tillman both caught the ball. Then Smith catches his 148th ball of the game for a first down. This guy is not real. It’s like he’s the video game Bo Jackson, Reggie Bush, video game Michael Vick, and Jerry Rice combined right now. It’s not even fun to watch.
7:05 – Steve Smith is some how wide open again (the DB fell) and scores again. He has roughly 232 catches for 1,383 yards, and two touch downs today. I’ll also remind everyone that he’s 5’8”… in other words he’s probably on the juice and pushing off people all the time. There is no way this guy is this good. None. 23-14 Panthers.
7:12 – Grossman and Gage complete a huge pass to convert a third down as the third quarter ends. If Steve Smith wasn’t the anti-Christ on steroids then the Bears would probably be winning this game with ease.
7:15 – Muhsin Muhammad just made a fantastic catch to for a first down and move the Bears inside the Panthers 10. I have no clue what to compare this game to during the White Sox run. My knee jerk reaction is Game Three of the World Series when the Sox went down and then fought back. But for some reason I think this is going to be more like Game Two of the ALCS when the Sox were oh so close to being down 0-2 and the coming back from the dead thanks to a crazy and weird AJ play.
7:21 – Oh no… this could be really bad. Thomas Jones lost the ball and fumbled it out of bounce in the end zone. But there are penalty flags on the play… so who knows what happens… and the Refs just singled touchdown for the Bears! There’s no way that’s going to stand if John Fox challenges this play… and they will. How this plays out I have no clue.
7:26 – The refs come back and reverse the touchdown saying the Panthers should get the ball on the 20, but because of the facemask, the Bears keep the ball and get it first and goal from the three. Phew.
7:27 – Jason McKie runs the ball in for a Bears Touchdown! The extra point is good and the score is now 23-21 Steve Smith. 12:31 left in this game… so not only is this game close but it’s also the best game of the weekend. I like it more when the Bears win big.
7:34 – End around to guess who? That’s right the Anti-Christ and he takes it how ever many yards he took it to the 25 of the Bears. Apparently Steve Smith wants to one up Vince Young today, the only difference is that all they run are screens to him and then once in a while go deep to him. And his performance isn’t as awing since Bears DBs keep falling down. And Vince Young isn’t the Anti-Christ.
7:37 – Touchdown Panthers… this is getting ugly. The Bears D looks lost whenever the Panthers throw the ball forward (they can cover the screen at least)… and the Bears just caught a HUGE break. Kasay missed the extra point and is 29-21 with about eight minutes left in the 4th quarter.
7:43 – The Bears go three and out and now punt the ball back to the Panthers and they’ll start on their own 36. And now comes the biggest series in the game, if the Panthers score this game is probably over. If they’re forced to punt, this game isn’t over yet. If the Bears create a turnover… all bets are off.
7:47 – Bears get the ball back forcing a three and out. While this isn’t the game as Joe Buck just said, it’s still a big series. Deep breathes… I hate this.
7:48 – Thomas Jones just takes off for about a thirty-yard gain on a screen to get the ball around midfield. Oh come on Bears… Let’s do this.
7:53 – And Rex kills me… the dagger has been placed in the gut. Grossman throws one right too Ken Lucas of the Panthers and they take over with 2:27. Of course now Joe Buck points out that the play should never have happened since it should have been a delay of game. This sucks. This just really stinks.
7:57 – Lance Briggs just made a huge play. On second and one, Briggs flies though the line and it’s now 3rd and 5 instead of 3rd and one… or even worse a first down. This next play is the game…
7:58 – On third down the Panthers run and end around to Steve Smith and he’s stopped short and the Bears are still Alive!!! Oh my I can’t take this…
8:00 – The Bears will start on their own 20 with 1:34 left. They have to score a touchdown and convert the two-point conversion to tie the game… Feeling Heart Jumping Out of Chest….
8:02 – Muhammad catches a ball for a first down and Grossman scrambles for five, it’s now third down and five to go from their own 40
8:04 - On 4th down the pass goes incomplete and this game is over… the Panthers win. This stinks.
What a bummer, the Bears D just didn’t show up today which is the real stinker. Though the offensive didn’t play great, their performance (after Grossman was 3 for 15) was pretty good all things considered. Jones ran the ball pretty well and in the second half they were moving the ball up and down the field.
But the defense laid an egg. And that’s what’s the killer about the loss. While Steve Smith played great, the rest of the Panthers didn’t bowl me over. They weren’t able to run the ball all that well until late in the game and their other receivers didn’t make much of an impact in the game. The Panthers were all Steve Smith.
Of course the irony for the Bears was that the home field advantage worked against them. Defensive backs were slipping all over the place (allowing at least one Smith touchdown) and on the last play of the game Muhammad slipped and fell also. The field was in such bad shape that it actually worked against them.
So whatever, there is next year. The offense should be better and while the defense will probably trail off a bit, they’re still pretty young and have some things going for them going into next year. So we’ll see. It was a good season, but this playoff lost hurts. A major bummer, it was a game that the Bears probably should have won. But oh well, at least we’ve got the 2005 Chicago White Sox.