Last night the NFL Network carried one of its eight annual games. It featured the Chicago Bears (my team) and the New Orleans Saints (not my team) and it was a do-or-die situation for two teams sporting 7-6 records, needing the win to get into postseason play. The game was sloppy but exciting and the Bears won 27-24 in overtime.
An omen that things might go right for the Bears occurred when Danieal Manning returned the opening kickoff 83 yards for a touchdown; he was the first Bear to do that in regular season since 1972.
Of course anyone who is a Bear fan knows the Bears have a problem living with success. While the Bear’s defense was doing its job on the Saint’s high-flying number-one offense, the Bear’s offense struggled. But the day belonged to special teams and special plays.
The Saints downed a punt inside the Bear’s one-yard line. Immediately the Bear’s center Olin Kreutz hiked the ball before the team was ready and Orton fumbled; New Orleans scored to tie the game.
The Bears battled back because of another great kickoff return by Manning as well as an interception by Manning setting up a touchdown pass to Desmond Clark and one-yard touchdown run by Matt Forte. Forte was out in the early part of the game because of an injury to his toe which was sustained on the first play of the game.
At half-time the Bears enjoyed a 21-7 lead and had all the momentum. However, the Saints would score 17 unanswered points because of Bear’s turnovers. Orton had two interceptions that ended in points.
Actually no one deserved to win the game. Drew Brees who is usually extremely dependable threw two interceptions. The Bears were successful in their game plan to put pressure on Brees.
Early in the fourth quarter I was tempted to return to my drinking days when the bears, leading 21-17, tried a pass on a fake punt. It was ruled incomplete and the Saints got the ball around mid-field.
Ultimately Brees found his rhythm and the Saints took the lead 24-21 with just 3 minutes left in the game.
However, the Bears drove 60 yards for a Robbie Gould tying field goal. The Bears nearly let the game slip away at that point by trying to run one play too many with only seven seconds remaining. Orton was sacked and the Bears barely got a timeout called with two seconds left in the game.
Gould made the field goal tying the game with just a couple of seconds left taking the game to overtime.
The Bears won the toss and elected to receive. They drove downfield to the New Orleans 15-yard line. The drive was highlighted by a 39-yard pass interference call on New Orleans’ safety Ron Harper against Devon Hester.
This set up Gould’s winning field goal.
The Bears kept themselves in the playoff hunt pulling within ½ game of the Vikings. New Orleans is all but out of it.
The Bears have been a plague to the Saints having beaten them in the NFC championship game two years ago and keeping them out of the playoffs last year when the Bears had a terrible record.
The Bears now play the Green Bay Packers a week from Monday. I’ve started my Valium protocol early.