The regular season ended Sunday, and while 2010 (plus one 2011 game) ended up going unexpectedly, inexplicably well, it would have been nice to have ended on a better note than that. Honestly, I can't fault the Bears for keep their starters in for a meaningless game, because a week off is good to rest and rejuvenate the dudes, but two weeks off just makes you rusty and awful, which is what happened in 2005, when the Bears had the bye and gave up like thirty touchdowns to Steve Smith. And really, aside from a game here and there missed by Jay Cutler and Lance Briggs, and the continuing injury sagas of Major Wright and Pisa Tinoisamoa, the Bears are an almost shockingly healthy team, so it's not like they needed an extra week for recovery. Still, at some point in the third quarter, Lovie Smith's whole commitment to beating the Packers above all else turned from a good P.R. thing to say before the first game in 2004 to being some Captain Ahab shit, and sometime around quarterback sack number four, I'd have let Hanie or Collins have a shot out there. Because a sweep would have been nice, but there was nothing actually tangible to gain from a win, the Packers defense was playing balls-out crazy inspired out there, and a bummer loss wouldn't have hurt the team nearly as bad as a franchise QB or over-thirty defensive star with a bone sticking out of his forearm.
Luckily though, the worst thing to come out of the game was only the photos of these guys right here.
The real ugliness though, (and I said I'd stop beating this dead horse, but it's a relevant dead horse, you know?) was that after a pretty decent late-season recovery, (at least relatively speaking) the Bears' offensive line reverted to Doom of 2010 form, allowing the Packers to become the Ike Turner to Jay Cutler's Tina. The worst part was that even after the collapse had begun, whoever the hell one of the announcers was kept going on and on about how improved the line was, while I was wishing I had a piece of paper handy, so I could write those little scratch lines like they carve in the wall of jail cells to count off years, so I could count how many times Olin Kreutz ended a play on his back. It's was a terrible and ugly time altogether, and it reminded me once again that this team is only going to go as far in the playoffs as they can get dodging through defensive linemen, Frogger-style, while this offensive line stands there away from it all, heads swiveling to create the illusion that they're looking for someone to block, when they're really just thinking about Call of Duty or delicious potatoes or something. The Bears are only going to have to win two games to earn the honor of allowing me to buy that "NFC Champions" t-shirt I forgot to get in 2006 and the horrible fate of being the team to be publicly butchered and skinned alive by the Patriots as part of Bill Belichiks terrifying, yearly ritual flesh-offering to his dark master Beelzebub in the Super Bowl, but those two games are going to be an uphill climb, to say the least.
The weird thing about Sunday's game, though, is that after the second half, I'm actually kind of glad they lost. In case any stereotypical internet Bears fans are reading this, put down your pitchforks, and stop typing your comments about me not being a real fan; I can explain: Look at the Bears offense in the first half. Mostly, it wasn't good, but they moved the ball a little with the short passes to Rashied Davis, (who still exists, strangely enough) and Matt Forte was actually having a really good game running the ball. So, what was different in the second half? They let Mike Martz start calling his kind of game. I guess they figured that since the game meant nothing, it was time for Genius-Ball, with that doughy fuck over there going, "we're only up by THREEEE! PASS! THROWTHROWTHROWWWWWWW!" and all of a sudden, the Bears are gaining like nine yards in a quarter, Cutler is dropping straight back and throwing picks, Forte is no longer getting the ball with any sort of frequency, and some dude the Packers signed off the street because their last three street free agents got hurt has like nine sacks. Meanwhile, after twenty-something minutes of that, the last drive did end in another damn interception, but once they started throwing short - and get this, throwing to a tight end - the ball started moving forward again. So the crushing offensive failure of the second half lead to the loss of the game in the end, and if Martz-ball would have magically worked somehow, in a couple weeks, you would have seen the Bears throwing downfield on every play, or at least attempting to, while the other team's defensive line feasted on the blood and bones of Caleb Hanie, because the other two guys were long dead by that point. So for the Bears to have any hope in the game (or hopefully, games, plural) to come, they had to fail in the second half against Green Bay.
NEXT WEEK: NOTHING! The Bears have a bye, so no football, aside from waiting to see if the Bears get to beat Philly again or lose to Green Bay again. But check back sometime in the next week or so, when I hand out the First Annual Armchair Linebacker Chicago Bears Post Season Awards. So you can finally find out who's going to win the prestigious Israel Idonije Memorial Canadian of the Year Award.