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Couch Slouch: AFC, NFC championship games are cold and comforting

Pittsburgh and Green Bay each have to hold off rallies to win their conference championship games.

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Monday, January 24, 2011; 12:13 AM

Just to make sure - because I wanted to take no chances on the petulant Jay Cutler or the blowhard Jets making the Super Bowl - I wore my Steelers helmet, Packers jersey and lucky Homer Simpson underwear Sunday. Sure, I looked like a 52-year-old moron clad in black-and-gold and green-and-gold, but sometimes you've got to let the little kid inside of you come out to ward off all the evils of sport.

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Thank you, Sam Shields. Thank you, Ben Roethlisberger.

It will be a Packers-Steelers matchup in two weeks, giving America a pedigreed Super Bowl Sunday while Rex Ryan tries to outcoach his brother Rob on Madden NFL 11.

This splendid Championship Sunday began at Soldier Field.

It was so cold in Chicago, George Halas turned over in his grave and turned on the space heater.

This one seemingly came down to Aaron Rodgers vs. Jay Cutler. Couch Slouch was giddy - Rodgers feels like April in Paris, Cutler feels like nuclear winter.

If Cutler were a meter maid, he'd write parking tickets off his back foot.

Anyway, the Bears decided Matt Forte would be their go-to guy, akin to Subway's 1999 decision to make Jared its go-to guy. The Packers suffocated the Bears and, despite Rodgers making a Cutler-type mistake with a red-zone interception that Brian Urlacher nearly returned for a touchdown, led by 14-0 midway through the third quarter.

Cutler left shortly after that with a bad knee and Todd Collins came in, which is the NFL equivalent of closing your business for inventory. After Collins was less effective than a eunuch at the Playboy Mansion, the Bears called on Caleb Hanie. Yes, Caleb Hanie. I immediately Googled "Caleb Hanie" and it said, "Who?" I'm not even certain Hanie was on the Bears' roster when the game began.

Yet he turned out to be the best quarterback on the field, leading two improbable fourth-quarter touchdown drives before Shields's last-minute interception snuffed out the Bears' hopes.

Final score: Packers 21, Bears 14. It was so glorious, I shifted my timeshare next winter from Grenada to Green Bay.

(Column Intermission: How many of you watched the most bizarre bowling match in TV history Saturday? Mika Koivuniemi won the PBA's Tournament of Champions on ABC, but it was his semifinal against qualifier Tom Daugherty that was stunning spectacle. As Koivuniemi rolled toward a perfect game - he left the 10 pin on his final shot to be denied - Daugherty, in his TV debut, rolled split after split. It was excruciating to witness, but you couldn't turn away. Koivuniemi increased his lead every frame of the match, from 21 pins in the first, to 33 in the second, to 55, 76, 100, 121, 134, 157, 178 and, ultimately, 199. Final score: 299-100, Daugherty posting the lowest score in televised PBA history. Boy, the man could've used a Pabst.)


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