There was a perceptible tone of hurt in Bears Head Coach Lovie Smith’s voice on Wednesday, when he said: “We’ve let the rivalry down.”
Smith was referring to the fact that the Bears have already lost to the Packers three times in the 2011 calendar year, and would become only the second team in NFL history to lose four times to the same opponent in a calendar year, should the Bears lose at Lambeau Field on Sunday. The Raiders beat the Broncos four times in 1994.
The Bears’ woes, of course, are a source of great satisfaction and delight for Packers fans, but four losses to the same team in one calendar year is something you’d only wish on your worst enemy. Oh, yeah, the Bears are the Packers’ worst enemy.
Be that as it may, if I could switch Sunday’s game with the Lions game set for New Year’s Day, as in the year 2012, I’d do it. I just don’t like to see something as wholesome as the way the Packers and Bears play football against each other suffer such a cruel fate. I mean, Bears fans wouldn’t want that to happen to the Packers, right?
Think about it: The Bears played at Lambeau on the final day of the 2010 season, which was the second day of 2011, and then the NFL schedules the Bears to play at Lambeau on the last weekend of 2011, instead of the last weekend of the 2011 season, which would be the first day of the calendar year 2012. Do you get the feeling the schedule-maker doesn’t like the Bears?
Sometimes it happens like that. When it rains, it pours.
The Bears are coming to Green Bay for a Christmas celebration that will not include their starting quarterback, Jay Cutler, and their star running back, Matt Forte, whose season cruelly ended three yards shy of 1,000 yards rushing, and their second-leading receiver, Johnny Knox. Did I mention that Forte, the Bears’ leading rusher, is also their leading receiver?
What did the Bears do to deserve such bad tidings?
They’ve lost four in a row but they’d be right in the thick of the playoffs chase – they own the tiebreaker over Atlanta – if only veteran running back Marion Barber hadn’t run out of bounds in one of those games, when the Bears were trying to kill the clock in Denver. If only they had taken a knee, they’d be in good shape to make it into the playoffs.
It happens this way. Sometimes pain is your constant companion. Merry Christmas? You gotta be kidding.
Here are 10 things the Packers have to do to ruin the Bears’ Christmas.
1. Hit ’em hard early—The Bears are a dejected lot. It’s been a long season.
2. Blitz—New starting quarterback Josh McCown has thrown two passes this season. He might be a little rusty.
3. Restart the engine—It definitely stalled last week in Kansas City.
4. Run a little—The Packers ran a lot in the first meeting between the two teams. Nothing quiets the rush like a good running game.
5. Catch the ball—Enough with the drops.
6. Get the feel of Lambeau—The road to the Super Bowl will likely run through it.
7. Win the one-on-ones—The Bears saw what the Chiefs did and the Packers can expect the Bears to give it a try.
8. Open the gifts early—Coach Mike McCarthy is allowing the team to wake up at home on Christmas morning, but once the wrapping paper is picked up, it’s time to think about playing football.
9. Protect the quarterback—He’s getting hit too much.
10. Give the fans a Christmas gift—No Packers fan should have to suffer a loss to the Bears at home on Christmas. Additional coverage - Dec. 22