Bears vs. Seahawks: Jay Cutler, Bears defense rough up Seahawks to advance to NFC title game
Sunday, January 16, 2011; 11:54 PM
CHICAGO - Their storied rivalry dates back nine decades, spans 181 games and features some of the most important names the game has ever known - Lombardi, Halas, Payton and Favre, among others. No two NFL teams have played each other more than the Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers, and the two teams soon will be writing a new chapter.
"We don't like them, they don't like us," said Chicago linebacker Brian Urlacher, succinctly describing perhaps the sport's most passionate rivalry.
Despite their long history, the two division rivals have met only once in the playoffs. The Bears, in fact, have played 29 postseason games since they last faced Green Bay in the postseason, a 33-14 Chicago win in 1941 at Wrigley Field in a Western Division playoff game.
"It just doesn't get any better, as I see it, then for the NFC championship to come down to the Packers coming down on our turf this time," said Bears Coach Lovie Smith. "The Packers and Bears to finish it up - that's how it should be."
If the Bears manage to play anything like they did Sunday against Seahawks, the Packers could have their hands full. Playing in front of an announced crowd of 62,265 at Soldier Field, Chicago rolled up 440 yards of offense, the Bears' defense shut out the Seahawks for almost three full quarters, and quarterback Jay Cutler, at least for an afternoon, did a pretty convincing impersonation of an elite NFL quarterback.
Whether it was his arm or his legs, Cutler had no problems dismissing Seattle from these playoffs. He finished Sunday's game 15 of 28 passing for 274 yards. He threw a pair of touchdown passes, ran for two others and committed no turnovers. He also had 43 rushing yards. For comparison, the entire Seattle offense amassed only 34 yards on the ground.
"I don't know if you're going to get any better performance out of a quarterback in the playoffs," said Chicago tight end Greg Olsen.
On the Bears' third offensive play of the game, Cutler made sure the first postseason pass of his career would be featured on highlight shows. He hit Olsen in stride down the middle of the field, and the tight end kept running for a 58-yard touchdown, setting a dominant tone and sapping the energy from the Seattle sideline.
"I don't know how much more he could have done at that position in any game, let alone a huge playoff game," Olsen said of Cutler. "You can't give enough credit for what he did."
Trailing early, the Seahawks had to rely on a passing game that found little success against Chicago's secondary. Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, whose contract is expiring and who could be leaving Seattle after 10 successful seasons, was 26 of 46 passing for 258 yards and three late, inconsequential touchdowns.
The Seahawks, who won only seven games during the regular season under first-year Coach Pete Carroll, saw their surprising playoff run come to an unsurprising halt. Plagued by inconsistency all season, the Seahawks beat the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints one week earlier but failed to issue even a faint challenge to Chicago.