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Lovie Smith’s vision realized; Bears headed to NFC title game

Jay Cutler

When Bears players arrived at training camp in July, there were t-shirts were waiting for them on each bed that said “Monsters of the Midway.”  Coach Lovie Smith evoked the franchise’s classic old identity all offseason.

At the time, Smith sounded a little crazy.   Pairing offensive coordinator Mike Martz with mistake-prone Jay Cutler didn’t sound like a formula for Chicago’s old brand of tough guy dominance.  Nearly six months later, Smith’s vision has been realized.

The Bears defeated the Seahawks 35-24 Sunday in a game dominated by Chicago’s defense.   Seattle scored three meaningless touchdowns in the fourth quarter (one on a short field), but Smith’s new “Monsters” had already won the game.

Only one of Seattle’s first nine drives went longer than 20 yards.  (It went 36 yards and ended in a punt.)   Seattle’s leading rusher was wide receiver Golden Tate with 13 yards.  Linebackers Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher constantly looked like they were going to blitz, then dropped into coverage.    Matt Hasselbeck couldn’t find any open receivers all day.

While the Bears defense played like Smith’s 2006 NFC champion team, the Bears offense showed again they can play ball control football.  Chicago ran the ball on 12 of its first 19 plays and 44 times overall.  Jay Cutler rushed for two scores and threw two long touchdowns to his tight ends.  They built a 21-0 halftime lead and never looked back.

Seattle sacked Cutler seven times the first time they these teams played.  They only had two on Sunday as Cutler enjoyed a lot of time in the pocket all day.   The Bears offensive line has cut down on the mental mistakes that defined their early part of the season.

This game was a snoozer, but it sets up a classic NFC Championship game matchup.  The Bears and Packers will face off in the playoffs for the first time since 1941.  The Packers have been installed as three point favorites.

Smith will probably appreciate being an underdog.  His team hasn’t been overly respected all season long, and Smith knows his defense can slow down Aaron Rodgers.

These Bears aren’t flashy, but they have steadily grown very effective.  Just like Smith envisioned back in July.

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69 Responses to “Lovie Smith’s vision realized; Bears headed to NFC title game”
  1. sweetnlow44 says: Jan 16, 2011 4:46 PM

    Congrats Chicago. Sorry my Seahawks didn’t show up to play today and at least give you guys a good warmup for GB. Good luck next week, GB looked pretty dominating yesterday.

  2. hobartbaker says: Jan 16, 2011 4:46 PM

    Jay Cutler vs. Aaron Rodgers, The Clash of the Cretins.

  3. sdboltaction says: Jan 16, 2011 4:47 PM

    Well that’s nice, Lovie bear… because that’s where it ends big boy.

  4. beerndonuts says: Jan 16, 2011 4:52 PM

    These are great days for the NFC North. Chicago and Green Bay are the toast of the conference, Detroit is showing real signs of life, and Minnesota allowed Brett Favre the opportunity to play/alienate himself out of the NFL.

    No matter what happens from this point on, it’s been a great season for the old Black and Blue Division.

  5. juancorsair says: Jan 16, 2011 4:55 PM

    Lovie should realize that beating the Sh!thawks is a lot like ridiculing the retarded busboy at your favourite restaurant. The Packers will prove to be a much tougher opponent.

    This is going to be a great matchup! :)

  6. jwil444 says: Jan 16, 2011 4:55 PM

    Does his vision include getting thumped by the Pack?

  7. oxycode30 says: Jan 16, 2011 4:55 PM

    Bring on the Peckers! Go Bears!
    One formality remains, then Dallas here we come!

  8. scytherius says: Jan 16, 2011 4:58 PM

    Gonna be a GREAT GREAT GREAT title game. I’m a huge Packer fan but may both teams play well as befits this rivalry.

  9. aaronitout12 says: Jan 16, 2011 4:59 PM

    Man, can’t wait already!!!

  10. pervyharvin says: Jan 16, 2011 5:02 PM

    You Bears fans should put some old ladies with cancer by the end zones. Aaron Rodgers will surely stay out of them then!

  11. myspaceyourface says: Jan 16, 2011 5:07 PM

    Thank God he hired Mike Martz. . . A coach that actually knows what he is doing.

  12. moneymike23 says: Jan 16, 2011 5:11 PM

    As far as skills go Cutler isn’t even remotely close to what Rodgers is and never will be.

  13. imsmartyouarenot says: Jan 16, 2011 5:11 PM

    GB Off v Chi Def Advantage GB
    Chi Off v GB Def Advantage GB
    Special Teams Advantage Chi
    Coaching Advantage GB

    Thanks for giving us a good storyline Chicago

  14. bears0492 says: Jan 16, 2011 5:15 PM

    Bears have a great coaching staff…definitely better than the packers.

  15. clawledge says: Jan 16, 2011 5:26 PM

    Sunday is when the Bear’s luck finally runs out.

  16. cubano76 says: Jan 16, 2011 5:26 PM

    I just want to see graet football being played. i think we’re going to see it next weekend.

  17. commandercornpone says: Jan 16, 2011 5:26 PM

    u dont paste a good team in their dome unless yer well coached…

  18. aaronitout12 says: Jan 16, 2011 5:31 PM

    pervyharvin says: Jan 16, 2011 5:02 PM

    You Bears fans should put some old ladies with cancer by the end zones. Aaron Rodgers will surely stay out of them then!

    ================================

    Yeah, he only has 10 passing TD’s(Post season record in first 3 games) as well as 1 rushing TD in 3 games.

    Let the two best teams of the NFC North settle this one. Vikings and Lions can only learn from such well run franchises.

  19. imsmartyouarenot says: Jan 16, 2011 5:31 PM

    Martz……no
    Morrelli…..no
    Tice…..no
    Lovie himself…….???

    It’s the who’s who of people who couldn’t beat the packers.

    But maybe, IF, they combine there strength like Voltron and make a Super-Coach……THEN…….no

  20. imsmartyouarenot says: Jan 16, 2011 5:34 PM

    Chicago might win if they all could use Voltron’s mechanical super cats on the field though.

  21. aaronitout12 says: Jan 16, 2011 5:41 PM

    The Bears are always so fundamentally sound and ALWAYS have great special teams. Not worried too much about our D or Rodgers and co., but the big returns we have given up all year. None-the-less this will only add to what is the best rivalry in the NFL!

    Doesn’t get any better then BEARS vs. PACKERS!

    GO PACK!!

  22. dirtdawg55 says: Jan 16, 2011 5:43 PM

    I don’t understand. Exactly which blown ref calls are the Seachicken fans blaming on this loss?

  23. sakatak says: Jan 16, 2011 5:55 PM

    Props to the Bears for bringing it today, they still have that one bad loss at home to the pats that bothers me. Looks like the oddsmakers are making the Packers favorites in this game for good reason, the pack have not had that one bad loss like the bears. Guess the past doesn’t make any difference now that both teams are in the NFCCG. May the best team win.

  24. necrondi says: Jan 16, 2011 5:55 PM

    imsmartyouarenot says:
    Jan 16, 2011 5:11 PM
    GB Off v Chi Def Advantage GB
    Chi Off v GB Def Advantage GB
    Special Teams Advantage Chi
    Coaching Advantage GB

    Thanks for giving us a good storyline Chicago

    Regular season record: Advantage Bears.
    Record vs Detroit: Advantage Bears.
    Record at Soldier Field: Advantage Bears.
    Number of stroke Packers fans posting in Bears threads: Advantage GB.

  25. pervyharvin says: Jan 16, 2011 6:04 PM

    aaronitout12…Don’t think you got my joke. Read the aaron Rodgers story. Oh yah, Bears are far from a great ran franchise in the last several years. You couldn’t teach the Vikings squat!

  26. iabearsfan says: Jan 16, 2011 6:12 PM

    As a Bears fan the only thing better than going to Dallas in 3 weeks is the fact we get to beat the Packers to get there. GO BEARS

  27. tprt2 says: Jan 16, 2011 6:16 PM

    One thing you’ve got to hand it to Lovie on – he knows how to slow down the Green Bay offense. He did when Favre was there and he does it now.

    I think Green bay is better overall, but you have to acknowledge that Chicago has an opportunity because of the way its defense matches up with Green Bay’s offense.

    And, we also know why Lovie played his starters in week 17.

  28. Beer Cheese Soup says: Jan 16, 2011 6:21 PM

    Well, it was hard for me to pull for either team in this one.

    On the bright side, at least that puts an end to the recent explosion of fairweather Seahawks fans here in the greater Seattle are over the past two weeks.

    Goodbye, pathetic excuses for fans. Take those utterly stupid #12 flags off your cars in a hurry, and then drop off your only-worn-twice Alexander jerseys at the storage unit on the way home. Maybe we’ll see you again in another five years.

    On to the Bears. The NFL’s two most storied and successful franchises, and most celebrated rivals, meet. I can’t wait..

  29. philtration says: Jan 16, 2011 6:26 PM

    First time in my lifetime that they will finally meet in the playoffs.
    This is the way that it should be!

    With the Lions looking a lot better the Vikings are well on their way to the cellar of the NFC North.

  30. imsmartyouarenot says: Jan 16, 2011 6:28 PM

    necrondi says:
    Regular season record: Advantage Bears.
    Record vs Detroit: Advantage Bears.
    Record at Soldier Field: Advantage Bears.
    Number of stroke Packers fans posting in Bears threads: Advantage GB.
    ==================================

    Record vs Detriot? Really? ……….really? I bet you are a hit on local sports talk radio with points like this. You should have your own show.

  31. dwhitehurst says: Jan 16, 2011 6:30 PM

    As a Packers fan, I’m honestly not looking forward to watching this game at Soldier Field, unless it were via TiVo after the fact and my team had won. ;) I will watch it, but am not looking forward to it—can only handle so many “down to the wire” games in one season, especially when its sudden death. Both teams will have their hands full with each other. If I’m a Bears fan, you better be praying for cold and wind for your cold-weather team as much as I am praying for some valid global warming (less cold and wind) for my dome team. ;)
    If the conditions at Soldier Field are the same as they were today, I would not bet against the Bears.

    I hate the Bears, yet with respect. I hate the Vikings with nothing but disgust.

  32. 12titles says: Jan 16, 2011 6:31 PM

    bears still suck!

  33. chobes68 says: Jan 16, 2011 6:35 PM

    Well that’s nice, Lovie bear… because that’s where it ends big boy.

    ======

    No one knows playoff disappointment more than a SD fan.

  34. chobes68 says: Jan 16, 2011 6:37 PM

    Lovie should realize that beating the Sh!thawks is a lot like ridiculing the retarded busboy at your favourite restaurant. The Packers will prove to be a much tougher opponent.

    ==========

    Thank you Captain Obvious.

  35. chobes68 says: Jan 16, 2011 6:39 PM

    Gonna be a GREAT GREAT GREAT title game. I’m a huge Packer fan but may both teams play well as befits this rivalry.

    =======

    From a Bear’s fan, I respect the Pack more now than I have in past years. While I want to see my Bears beat the Pack silly, silly I say, if the Bears lose, I’ll root for the Packers.

    To paraphrase Flounder from Animal House, “Boy, this is gonna be great!”

  36. chobes68 says: Jan 16, 2011 6:40 PM

    Does his vision include getting thumped by the Pack?

    ==========

    I’ve heard this record before, play something new. Weren’t they supposed to win week 17 60-0?

  37. chobes68 says: Jan 16, 2011 6:44 PM

    aaronitout12…Don’t think you got my joke. Read the aaron Rodgers story. Oh yah, Bears are far from a great ran franchise in the last several years. You couldn’t teach the Vikings squat!

    ======

    Once again, Pervy shows why our school system is far from “great ran”.

  38. pervyharvin says: Jan 16, 2011 6:45 PM

    dwhitehurst says:I hate the Bears, yet with respect. I hate the Vikings with nothing but disgust.
    ======================================
    Always hate for the great! Too bad your franchise QB is getting slammed on the world wide web for being doucher in ignoring an old lady with cancer. Wow, Cutler looks like a saint compared to your moron!

  39. pdxbolt says: Jan 16, 2011 6:46 PM

    chobes68 says:
    Jan 16, 2011 6:35 PM
    Well that’s nice, Lovie bear… because that’s where it ends big boy.

    ======

    No one knows playoff disappointment more than a SD fan.

    *******************************************

    As painful as it is, yes…yes we do.

  40. ilovefoolsball says: Jan 16, 2011 6:47 PM

    WOw way to really stink up the place, Seabags. Well at least you had your superbowl, beating the Saints.
    After that game you’d think the Seahawks went undefeated and won the real Superbowl the way they and their fans were acting.
    But you know how it is, when you’re always sucking, you gotta enjoy every little bit.

  41. Beer Cheese Soup says: Jan 16, 2011 6:55 PM

    chobes68 says:

    From a Bear’s fan, I respect the Pack more now than I have in past years. While I want to see my Bears beat the Pack silly, silly I say, if the Bears lose, I’ll root for the Packers.
    ____________

    I agree. I still hate HATE your team, but it’s hard to dislike your fan base. You’re just like us: traditionalist, loyal, smart, and mindful of history.

    You would never allow a dome in your city. You would never leave a game in the 3rd, no matter how bad your team was losing or how horrible the weather was. You would never turn your back on your team and switch to hockey after week ten, even during a losing season.

    I think the recent surge of part-time Vikings fans has opened both of our eyes to just how utterly disgraceful some NFL fans can be.

    That said, I hope your team loses in utterly humiliating fashion next week.

  42. childressrulz says: Jan 16, 2011 6:57 PM

    “Smith will probably appreciate being an underdog. His team hasn’t been overly respected all season long, and Smith knows his defense can slow down Aaron Rodgers.”
    I don’t think Smith wants any part of Rodgers in the post season. I think we can see the Packers are a far better team than even three weeks ago. They dropped a lot of balls in the week 17 game. The packers appear to be firing on all cylinders right now. It will be hilarious to watch the Packers raise the Geaorge Hallas trophy over the turf at Solider field. The Bears and Vikings suck. I love how Bears fans point to the Lions game as to why they are clearly better. Never mind that the truth is the Lions won that first game. Everyone besides chicago fans knows the Lions beat them.

  43. packmanfan says: Jan 16, 2011 7:11 PM

    If the ‘Hawks can come back to within 11 points of a team the Pack either lost to or beat with close games in the regular, and the great game they had against the #1 Falcons, I’m not too worried about the Packers chances.

  44. pervyharvin says: Jan 16, 2011 7:15 PM

    @ chobes68 …..Dude, that is weak! Bet you couldn’t even type after 8 martinis like me Mr Hand!

  45. wegogreenbay says: Jan 16, 2011 7:27 PM

    I don’t have the Bears as much as I hate FIBS in general. “. . . they make fun of Wisconsin, but we don’t get upset, where do you think that they’re all headed every chance they get?” FIB on!

  46. wegogreenbay says: Jan 16, 2011 7:28 PM

    *hate, not have

  47. trevector says: Jan 16, 2011 7:54 PM

    Congrats Bears and Packers. I’m glad to see one of the NFC North in the Super Bowl. Though, I’d rather it be the Vikes. Go get that Lombardi!

  48. kennyrogerschicken says: Jan 16, 2011 7:55 PM

    Great win against a team with a losing record. Walk tall, Bears fans, you earned that win. Unfortunately, you’re playing against a real team next week, so take it all in now – and enjoy your Green Bay Packers in the Super Bowl.

  49. kennyrogerschicken says: Jan 16, 2011 8:03 PM

    pervyharvin -

    Wow. Your Vikings are done and yet here you are, still touting them as world beaters while spewing your typical bile about the Packers. Either you’re obsessed with the Packers, or you’re a huge loser.

    I’m going with both.

  50. aaronitout12 says: Jan 16, 2011 8:05 PM

    pervyharvin says: Jan 16, 2011 7:15 PM

    @ chobes68 …..Dude, that is weak! Bet you couldn’t even type after 8 martinis like I can with One Hand!

    ===============================

    I think you got your words mixed up.

  51. pervyharvin says: Jan 16, 2011 8:26 PM

    kennyrogerschicken…I am super fan. Not like you little man…

  52. angelosdraftboard says: Jan 16, 2011 8:47 PM

    This is how its supposed to be. Really disheartening that younger Packer fans think Vikings are a bigger rivalry.

    These two franchises always had mutual respect for each other which began with Lombardi and Halas.

    Both franchises try to do things the right way and try to draft quality guys and stay away from the TO’s and Moss’s of football.

    Bear and Packer fans don’t have to like each other but you can still respect the organization and it’s history and tradition.

    GO BEARS !!

  53. sirsprague says: Jan 16, 2011 8:49 PM

    OK, you want more proof that I should never have a job in the NFL? I thought the Bears were frauds. Their offense was suspect, and despite their defense being decent, they would never survive in the playoffs.

    Well, the Bears beat Seattle by a huge margin, and have a good shot at making the Super Bowl. Given an even adequate game by Cutler, the NFC Championship should be competitive. Remind me why I keep making playoff predictions before the games even start.

  54. txbearmeat says: Jan 16, 2011 8:55 PM

    GB is too hot on offense right now. The only way CHI wins is if it gets a big return from Hester/Manning. As a GB fan, I’ll take my chances. Better O. Better D. Better Players.

  55. randomcommenter says: Jan 16, 2011 9:07 PM

    Good thing the Broncos got rid of Cutler. I know the first thing i would do if i took over a team is get rid of the young franchise QB.

  56. jc1958coo says: Jan 16, 2011 9:42 PM

    DA bears are too old too slow to play the pack!
    lombardi trophy is going home!
    you’re not playing the seagulls this time!!!!

  57. mikemnz says: Jan 16, 2011 9:47 PM

    Pervy next time it snows head to the metrodump immediately. With all the hot air you’ve been spewing, no way the roof will collapse with you on the 50 yd line running your mouth.

  58. direland says: Jan 16, 2011 9:47 PM

    A-Rod vs. Cutler? No contest. Packers win big.

  59. direland says: Jan 16, 2011 9:49 PM

    “pervyharvin – Either you’re obsessed with the Packers, or you’re a huge loser. I’m going with both.”

    LMAO! Aren’t all Vikings fans?

  60. Beer Cheese Soup says: Jan 16, 2011 10:04 PM

    pervyharvin says:

    kennyrogerschicken…I am super fan. Not like you little man…
    ____________

    You’re not a fan of anything or anyone. You only even care about the Vikings when they’re winning. The rest of the time, you spew your blind hatred of the Packers and nothing more.

    You’ve picked the Packers and Bears to lose every week. How has that worked out for you?

  61. rizza32 says: Jan 16, 2011 10:23 PM

    U packer fans are collectively delusional. Matt Ryan is a fraud of a qb that is hidden behind his running game and D. Has no business being in the pro bowl. The packers are so great they barely made it to the playoffs. Enjoy the road for another week cause you aren’t good enough to have a home game

  62. asherallencanttackle says: Jan 16, 2011 10:33 PM

    Fellow Viking fans…admit it..this was an awful weekend.. Chicago and Green Bay playing in the NFC Championship game…our worst fears realized…one of these disgusting teams will be in the Super Bowl…GO AFC!

  63. necrondi says: Jan 16, 2011 10:50 PM

    imsmartyouarenot says: Jan 16, 2011 6:28 PM

    necrondi says:
    Regular season record: Advantage Bears.
    Record vs Detroit: Advantage Bears.
    Record at Soldier Field: Advantage Bears.
    Number of stroke Packers fans posting in Bears threads: Advantage GB.
    ==================================

    Record vs Detriot? Really? ……….really? I bet you are a hit on local sports talk radio with points like this. You should have your own show.

    ———————————————————

    Yes really.

    You agree you are a stroke then as well. Good.

  64. packmanfan says: Jan 16, 2011 11:26 PM

    Gonna be a GREAT GREAT GREAT title game. I’m a huge Packer fan but may both teams play well as befits this rivalry.
    ===================================
    What kind of Packer fan wishes for da Bears to play well against the Packers?
    How long have you been a Packers fan?

  65. didiwags says: Jan 16, 2011 11:39 PM

    I am a Vikings fan but I cant wait till the Bears take down the Pack next week!!!

  66. collins15 says: Jan 17, 2011 12:27 AM

    Bad post fron the writer! Matt Hasselbeck couldn’t find any open receivers? Hasselbeck couldn’t find any receivers to catch the ball! Hawks had chances and could not capitalize!

  67. packmanfan says: Jan 17, 2011 1:14 AM

    And how are we supposed to be impressed by a Bears win in the playoffs against a team with a losing record that shouldn’t have been there in the first place?
    Really. I wanna know.

  68. Beer Cheese Soup says: Jan 17, 2011 3:05 AM

    didiwags says:

    I am a Vikings fan but I cant wait till the Bears take down the Pack next week!!!
    ____________

    This makes the second time Vikings fans have said exactly that about the Bears this year. They’ve also said it about the Giants, the Eagles, and the Falcons.

    How’s that working out for you guys? At what point will you finally learn??

    With your track record picking Pack losses up to this point, it makes me even MORE confident in our chances. So thank you.

    Enjoy watching your two most hated rivals compete at the highest level this weekend, though it isn’t as if you needed further reminders of how your team will never measure up in the league’s most storied division.

  69. Chris Ross says: Jan 18, 2011 3:22 AM

    Honestly, I am a little surprised that the Bears have been able to do what they have done this year. Their coach has been on the hot seat (well not anymore) and their quarterback has also been under fire. However, they have responded well, with the improving O-Line and have a chance at the Super Bowl oddly enough. They gotta thank the Broncos too for the blessing that is Jay Cutler cuz he has played very well at the right times this year. Gonna be a good matchup on Sunday vs. the Pack and Aaron Rodgers. Really excited to see it.

    http://chrisross91.wordpress.com/2011/01/17/one-bronco%E2%80%99s-garbage-is-another-bear%E2%80%99s-treasure/

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