Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Sports Illustrated's Love Affair With the Bears

If you want to bask in the glory of the Bears playoff run, no need to swing by

Peter King wrote, by my unofficial count, 5211 words about the 4 playoff games this weekend in his Monday Morning Quarterback column.

A very low percentage of them mentioned the Bears. Let's review all of Pete's thoughts on the Bears and their overtime playoff victory.

5. Chicago (14-3). Good to see Tank Johnson make a huge play for the Bears, sacking Matt Hasselbeck on that big fourth-quarter series. The Bears will need him to stop Deuce McAllister on Sunday.

Peter's first mention is required as part of his Fine Fifteen ranking of NFL teams. There are only 4 teams left in the running and he has the Bears ranked #5. OK then.

In his Goat of the Week segment:

Whoever Called the Timeout With Two Seconds Left in the Fourth Quarter, Chicago. Are you kidding me? I guess Lovie Smith was thinking, "Maybe they'll punt it and Devin Hester will have a shot to run it back.'' Crazy. Just crazy. In this kind of loony game, the Bears are lucky Hasselbeck didn't have a chance to throw a good Hail Mary.

He's right, of course, how crazy and stupid that was. Not sure about the game being loony, but it's a Bears mention. Go Bears!

The next 3 are things he liked about this weekend's action:

f. Lovie Smith's faith in Rex Grossman. We all said Grossman was on a short leash before Sunday's game, but only Smith knew for sure. And the way he spoke about Grossman, Smith sounded like he had Johnny Unitas on the roster, not Grossman.

g. Grossman. Not masterful, just good enough.

h. Lance Briggs is a heck of a football player.

AGAIN, "we" all said Grossman was on a short leash, except for those who were paying attention to Lovie Smith at any point this season or anything he said during the week. Props for Briggs, a backhander for Rex. But the Bears were mentioned. Go Bears!

And one thing he didn't like:

e. Nice, huge drop, Bernard Berrian. It's only your team's season on the line.

5211 words and that's all the Bears get. Not a mention of Robbie Gould. You'd think the game-winning FG, from 49 yards in OT, in brisk weather would have been one of the mentionables from the football weekend. He was somewhere in the also-rans for Pete's specialty teams player of the week.

The good news is, on Tuesday Pete mentioned he'd be covering the Bears-Saints game. The Saints were barely mentioned in the 5211 words, by the way. Not a big surprise from a guy who once said if you didn't grow up near New York, you'll never really understand big-time intense sporting events.

Pete's colleague Don Banks wrote more about the Bears. What do you have, Don? Throw us a bone here.

Early NFC title-game prediction: I like the Saints. If New Orleans and Chicago both play like they did this weekend, the Cinderella Saints might win by 14.

Ouch, 14 points. That'll put a crimp in the Super Bowl plans. Wait, Don is writing again.

Okay, I'll say it: The Pats-Colts will be Super Bowl XLI, even if it won't be played in Miami. Whoever advances out of New Orleans and Chicago in the NFC, I like the AFC champ by a lot in the next game.

Uh oh, so 14-point underdogs this week and underdogs by "a lot" 2 weeks later. Why's that?

Banks wrote a glowing piece about the Bears' victory Sunday called "Good Enough Rex." Here's the Cliffs Notes:

Grossman is a calamity in a football uniform.

"I thought Rex played well,'' Lovie Smith said, with a straight face.

The bulletin board runneth over. To give equal time, here's my stat of the week:

In AFC/NFC Championship games, dome teams playing on the road are 1-9. The exception was Atlanta topping Minnesota in 1999, however, that doesn't really apply here because it was a dome team playing in Minnesota's shitty rollerdome. I'll take the 14 points, Banks. Bearss.

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