Saturday, December 4, 2010
WEEK TWELVE: FULL SPEED AHEAD
A couple weeks ago after the Miami game, I started typing up a post I never bothered to finish about how even at 7-3, the Bears still didn't have what you would call a "signature win." That is to say, sure, they had a good won/loss record, but there was really no single game that let you know that this was the real thing, and not just the Bears being fluke-masters, like that freak 13-3 season under Jauron. Because even at first place in the division, it was really hard to watch a Bears game and not think that they were still pretty much lousy even in victory. The running game didn't exist, the passing game could only go so far as a junior high B-team offensive lineman could take it, and it was only a matter of time before the defense fell apart, because that always seems to be what it tends to do after a while.
Anyway, if I ever bothered to finish that post, I would have said something along the lines of how the Philly game was kind of a make or break deal, where a win would probably be that elusive statement win, and a loss would be that final "well yeah, 9-7, here we come" moment. And honestly, with my own crippling pessimism (seriously, the Bears have had at least a winning record all year, and the way I talk, you'd think they were Buffalo) combined with a few weeks of hype surrounding Michael Vick as the huge redemption story/unstoppable MVP-in-waiting, I figured it would be ugly. Jay Cutler would be sacked to pieces, the defense would have no answers for the Eagle offense, and in the end, Michael Vick would stand triumphantly in the end zone, standing over the charred ruins of a huge cocktease of a Chicago Bears season, as he victoriously cracks open an adorable Pembroke Welsh Corgi's skull and inhales its soul to give him unholy strength. I never made it that far, but my final prediction would have been something like 38-17.
The final result wasn't shocking, at least in the manner that in today's age of NFL parity, anyone can win any game, and hell, the Bears DID come in with the same record as the Eagles. But in another sense, in the way that the Bears managed to field both an offense AND a defense for an entire game against a team with a winning record, this game freaked me slap fucking out. The last time I recall seeing anything like that was when the Bears were steamrolling the living hell out of the league in early 2006, before the world figured out that the bane of Rex Grossman was to make dudes run at him real fast and before Mike Brown and Tommie Harris both had their bodies tell them to fuck off. This team has either been all defense and no offense, some offense and no defense, or just special teams with no offense or defense. So yeah, in the grand big picture of things, this game was HUGE.
Whatever sort of electroshock treatment that made Mike Martz start running the ball is still in effect, Johnny Knox didn't cause another interception by cutting off his route early, and the pass non-protection that was the Doom of 2010 wasn't terrible. Brian Urlacher is fully back to pretending it's 2003 and he's still good enough to be on video game boxes, Julius Peppers has started actually sacking quarterbacks again, as opposed to just pressuring or hurrying them or whatever, and the Bears defensive backfield no longer seems to consist of Charles Tillman and three guys they found down at the train station. For once, everything came together. And honestly, I really don't know how to deal with this sort of thing.
This team has been just-barely below average for years now, and my brain simply can't cope with the idea that they might actually be... good. This is a team that could actually win the division, make the playoffs, and who knows what the hell else. And now it really occurs to me that I had actually forgotten what it was like to actually be excited about football during the season. I mean, everyone's excited as hell before it starts, no matter what team they've chosen as their own, but that typically falls apart a few weeks in. We're in week thirteen now, and the Bears still haven't fallen apart in the ways they typically do. Cutler still has a QB rating over ninety, Matt Forte is averaging more than four yards a carry for the first time in his career, and the defense still doesn't have a starter on injured reserve. Things like this do not typically apply this late in the year. And with my mental Eeyore complex, there's still this lingering thought that it could all fall apart at any second. For All I know, Jay Cutler's leg could fall off Sunday, Lance Briggs could suddenly demand a trade again, and Julius Peppers could get busted for an underground betta fish fighting enterprise. But you know what? Fuck it, none of that has happened yet.
So you know what? I know a letdown could happen at any time, and I know that even if the 2010 Bears are for real, there's no fucking way they'll beat both the Patriots AND the Jets, but really, fuck it. Seriously. Just for once, whether it lasts until tomorrow or until February, I'm going to enjoy this. For one moment in time, I don't have to preface any answer to the question, "so, you're a Bears fan, huh?" with a sigh. Until shit goes south, I'm flying the damn flag. THIS IS THE CHICAGO BEARS, AND THEY WILL PUNCH YOUR STUPID FACE.
TOMORROW: The Bears head to Detroit for the trap game of all trap games. Because seriously, the Lions never seem to be as actually bad as their record suggests, and they're playing at home this time, and well... Let's face it; unless you pay close enough attention to the official NFL referee's handbook to find some rule that's only listed in an end-note from a footnote in Appendix J, which isn't actually in the rulebook, but is located on a Geocities website from 1997 that's down half the time, the Lions won that game. So there's no question of whether or not the Lions could win the game - They already did once. But then again, this is a Bears team that's rolling like a motherfucker and that's a Lions team that's reeling from one open-handed slap from a vengeful God after another, who seem to have lost all hope, and who have Drew freaking Stanton as their last-resort starting quarterback. Ugly, ugly, ugly, bad, and ugly. An upset isn't out of the question, as this could be the one game that pisses the Lions off enough to snap them back to being a football team, and no matter what anyone says, the Bears are completely looking past this game toward New England. But momentum is a bitch, and there's only so much a team moving the other way can do against that.
Bears 31, Lions 20.