The Chicago Bears went on the road and beat the Arizona Cardinals, 28-13, on Sunday to keep their playoff hopes alive and earn a seat at the grownups table for Christmas dinner.
The Bears employed their early season formula of letting the defense be the offense as cornerback Zack Bowman started the day’s scoring with a one-yard fumble return for a touchdown in the first quarter and fellow corner Charles Tillman put the game away in the third with a ten-yard interception return for a score.
In between, the Bears got a four-yard touchdown from Matt Forte and an 11-yard scoring strike from Jay Cutler to Brandon Marshall who have been each other’s not-so-secret Santas since early July.
The Bears, who are now 9-6, also re-lived their halcyon days of September and October by playing an opponent that’s so bad the naughty list doesn’t want them. The Cardinals are 5-10 and started Ryan Lindley at quarterback, a gentleman who became Arizona’s first-stringer by winning second prize in a “guess how many jelly beans in the jar” contest at a mall in Tucson.
First prize was death by rancid pickle enema.
The Bears are alive and are also in the awkward position of having to root for the Green Bay Packers because if the Bears beat the Lions in Detroit next Sunday and the Pack defeat the Vikings in Minnesota then the Bears are playoff-bound. But then again, the Bears are accustomed to being sweet and neighborly to Aaron Rodgers and his All-receiver Review so maybe pulling for the Pack won’t be so weird.
The Bears know they can’t worry about what other teams do. The Bears can only do what every Chicagoan does: worry about the Bears. The Lions, who got their Christmas losing out of the way early by falling to the Falcons on Saturday night, are 4-11 and have lost seven straight. But it would be a big mistake for Lovie Smith’s fellas to think that just because they beat one putrid team they’ll easily beat another because the Lions have talent and hatred for the Bears. The Cardinals have no talent and only hate themselves.
Football can be very sad at times.
Some might say it doesn’t seem right that the Bears are in a position to play extra games after looking like panda poop since Halloween. Others would opine that Chicago earned this chance by playing so well in the first half of the season. These two opposing groups have been locked in a bathroom in the basement of an abandoned church as two guys dressed like Bozo dance outside the door waving sparklers singing “The Night Chicago Died.”
Breathe deep. Christmas is here and the Bears are survivors on the Island of Misfit Footballers turning the handle on the “Charlie-in-the-Box.” Brian Urlacher might be back next weekend, Devin Hester is still running in the wrong direction and the Bears are in the hunt.
They have a chance to be a part of something special, to reach a faraway land called January.