The Chicago Bears lost the battle (with the Packers), but still won the war (to make the playoffs).
At Halas Hall, players should be addressing thank you cards to members of the LA Rams, whose victory over Arizona enabled the Bears to earn a playoffs berth despite the week seventeen loss to Green Bay.
“The red zone for them was good. The red zone for us was bad.”-Matt Nagy
“The red zone was not good enough. One for five. You can’t play Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers and kick field goals. We have to get touchdowns. There’s no other way. And he’s four for four in the red zone. We have six fourth down conversions which is probably more than we had all year.” The problem was that the most crucial of the fourth down attempts was a 4th and 1, trailing 21-16 at the Green Bay 26. The Bears attempted a short pass to Allen Robinson that was well defended. They could have opted for a field goals try, to get within two. The Packers took the ensuing possession for 76 yards and a touchdown. They never looked back. The wheels came off the bus.”
Across the field Packer coach Matt LaFleur was ecstatic. “People have gone above and beyond probably their normal job responsibilities to get us to this point. It’s never easy in this league. This game was pretty indicative of that. It was 21-16, and they were driving. We came up with a key stop and were able to take the ball down the field. Just so happy for our players, our coaches, everybody that’s poured so much into this to get us to this point. For us to be able to deliver in crunch time, that’s what it’s all about. We will celebrate this. We’re happy that the road to Tampa goes through Lambeau. We also understand there’s a lot in front of us. We’re going to have to continue to be disciplined in our approach and take it day by day, not only from the football component but just being responsible off the field as well.”
Nagy told the press he wanted to score and take the lead instead of settling for a field goal. “I really thought that we should go for it. Fourth and one, we should get that. That one bothered me.” Now we shift our focus to New Orleans, but Green Bay is playing really well right now. There’s a reason why they play the way they play. They’re a good football team, and you have to give them credit.
Mitch Trubisky addressed the backing into the playoffs. “It’s a weird feeling,” he noted. “Obviously disappointed for the game. But finding out the news that we got in, I think we just got rewarded for the work we put in the last couple of weeks. And even though tonight didn’t go the way we wanted, we’re in the playoffs and that’s really all that matters. Everybody is 0-0, and we have a great opportunity this week. This is what you work for.”
Aaron Rodgers talked about the importance of having clinched home field advantage with the victory. “It gives us an opportunity. The home-field advantage might not mean the exact same as in years past. Obviously with the home field crowd, that can make a difference at certain times in the game. But it’s important. We know the weather is an issue always in these months, so we’ll definitely be hoping for some cold, frigid temperatures in a couple weeks.”
Rodgers also discussed his team’s performance in this critical game. “We were really efficient the first half, three drives, three scores. Still a disjointed game. Had the ball for a ton of time. We were sitting on the sidelines for a good portion of that game. But a big stop there in the early fourth. We got the ball. Kind of this is where we put the game away. Methodical drive. Converted third downs. Guys made some plays. It wasn’t splash plays. It was five here, seven there, eight there, hit a couple keepers. It was a really special drive for us. To be able to put it away there on the four yard line, we’ve been so good in the red zone all season, that was great.”
“I think that our defense is going to be excited to get an opportunity to play the Saints again,” stated Nagy. “We battled those guys . Went into overtime. Weren’t able to pull it out. I have a lot of respect for that organization. and obviously Drew Brees and what he’s done for that team.”
LB Danny Trevathian was surprisingly upbeat. “We know we wanted to win this game no matter what. It didn’t happen. There’s a lot of teams that are not in the situation that we are in,and have the opportunity that we have right now. So our job is to make the most of this situation that we’re in. It could be the other way around. Our focus right now is to not let anything slip next game. It’s win or go home. Right now everybody is humble. We are in the playoffs. We know what’s at stake.”
On playing the Saints again, Nagy commented, “I think the biggest thing is understanding whether it’s a one on one matchup they know what they”re dealing with in this game. You’re going against these offenses that score a lot of points. You got to have touchdowns. Field goals aren’t going to win games.”
Trubiskyn echoed the team’s feelings, “The season didn’t go the way we envisioned it. But you have a new opportunity, so really none of that matters. So you have to take advantage of that opportunity. I’m very grateful for that. This has got to be our best week. It’s got to be my best week. It’s up to me to lead this team and make sure that everyone is bringing that attitude. We earned this and we have to take advantage of it.”
The Bears travel to New Orleans to play the Saints at 4:40 ET on Sunday. We reached out to one of our former correspondents, Scott Harrison of Harrison Broadcasting for a scouting report on the upcoming game. Scott has covered the Saints since 1984. “Alvin Kamara won’t be able to practice, so who knows how that will affect him,” he says. “They dominated Carolina, but this is different. When you have Drew Brees, you have to be concerned about the status of his rib injury. He looks healthy. He started out slow against KC, but he came back and played better. There’s a lot of talk that Drew may retire after this year. It may be his last game at home, so he’s going to be very motivated. They got some really good players, some veterans. guys like Cam Jordan, Malcom Jenkins. Two games ago they lost linebacker Kwon Alexander for the season. His replacement Alex Anzalone has to step up. Defensive end, Trey Hendrickson, if he’s healthy, he is top sack producer, so the Bears need to protect their quarterback. There will only be a small crowd at the Superdome, so they won’t have a tremendous home field advantage from the crowd. Just keep in mind that the Saints play much better indoors. That’s a plus for their passing game. I think the Saints were built to win a Super Bowl, so the future is now. it’s just that Saints have had strange things happen to them in the playoffs, such as the LA Rams game in the 2018 NFC Championship game.”