NFC Championship: Green Bay Packers 21, Chicago Bears 14
Washington Redskins wide receiver Anthony Armstrong (aka MrArmstrong13) coined the phrase “knee-gate” in a tweet on Sunday in reference to Jay Cutler’s mysterious injury which sidelined him for the better part of the most important game of his career. The Bears lost, of course, but surprisingly not by a wide margin. The Green Bay Packers held on for the 21-14 victory and are headed to the Super Bowl in Dallas.
“Alright, Jay, we’re only down 14-0,” said Coach Lovie Smith. “You’re our leader. We have faith in you. Let’s win this.”
“Aw, coach. That’s so sweet of you,” said Cutler, who certainly would not use that phrasing. “The thing is, I’m actually not going to play. My knee is bleeding and…oh…never mind, that’s Gatorade. Well, I just don’t want to.”
Midway through the second quarter, Cutler began nursing an apparent knee injury. He continued to play through the injury, though it was obviously causing him discomfort. Cutler continued to play (horribly) in the beginning of the third quarter, but would soon exit the game without warning or incident. He proceeded to pace on the sideline – the perfect remedy for a knee injury – and occasionally pouted into the camera. It is unfathomable to think that Cutler would quit on his team in the NFC championship, but it seems that is exactly what happened. Chicago fans refused to be “out-crazied” by Cutler, as many of them instantly burned their jerseys in retaliation.
The Green Bay victory was in doubt at several points throughout the second half despite Cutler’s absence. This should surprise no one when considering the Bears’ all-star lineup of back-up quarterbacks. The Bears turned to sure-fire Hall of Famers Todd Collins and Caleb Hanie for the most snaps of their season. Shockingly, Hanie wasn’t abysmal. Collins was terrible, but in a fashion. He avoided interceptions by refusing to throw remotely near anyone – including his own receivers. Collins went 0 for 4 on pass attempts before he was mercifully relieved by Hanie.
I would love to give credit to Hanie for keeping the Bears in the game with his touchdown pass to Earl Bennett. Hanie found Bennett down the sideline in the fourth quarter to pull the Bears within seven. The real credit for the touchdown, however, goes to Packers defensive backs Charles Woodson and Nick Collins, who were apparently completely checked out at this point in the game. They stopped dead in their tracks as Bennett caught the ball between them and then stood in place as he flew by them for a touchdown.
I’m again forced to question the notion of losing one’s focus in an NFL game – just as I questioned Packers’ wide receiver James Jones last week. Woodson and Collins displayed the type of boredom I would associate with standing behind the counter of a 7-11 or shuffling papers in a cubicle. I don’t want them to over-exert themselves, but perhaps this trio of Packers can amp themselves up in the two weeks before Super Bowl Sunday. I don’t care what it takes. Listen to a playlist entirely comprised of Black Eyed Peas songs, for all I care.
Despite the blunder, the Packers were able to close the game out in awesome, albeit unusual, fashion. 337-pound nose tackle BJ Raji inexplicable dropped into coverage on a play in the fourth quarter. Roaming in zone coverage provided a more demanding task than Raji’s normal role of taking up space. As if he were playing safety, Raji clairvoyantly darted toward the Hanie pass, intercepting the ball and returning it for a touchdown. Raji was almost stripped by Hanie on his way to the end zone since he insisted on holding the ball out in front of him the entire way to the goal line. Raji capped his near blunder with a poorly choreographed dance which involved too much belly gyration for my taste.
Green Bay is receiving contributions from the entire team, and they seem to be getting better with each game. Aaron Rodgers didn’t have the page-popping statistics of last week’s assault on Atlanta. He did, however, still make numerous impressive throws and rushed for a touchdown. Green Bay will have an uphill battle, but they are in excellent position to bring home their first championship in nearly 15 years.
Story by Jesse Jacobs, who also writes for The Ballston Journal
FINAL SCORE: Green Bay Packers 21, Chicago Bears 14
JESSE’s PREDICTION: Green Bay Packers 31, Chicago Bears 10
JESSE JACOBS’ NFL PLAYOFF ROUND-UP:
WEEK ONE: Wild Card Playoffs
Seattle Seahawks 41, New Orleans Saints 36
New York Jets 17, Indianapolis Colts 16
Baltimore Ravens 30, Kansas City Chiefs 7
Green Bay Packers 21, Philadelphia Eagles 16
WEEK TWO: Divisional Playoffs
Divisional Playoff Predictions
Pittsburgh Steelers 31, Baltimore Ravens 24
Green Bay Packers 48, Atlanta Falcons 21
Chicago Bears 35, Seattle Seahawks 24
New York Jets 28, New England Patriots 21
WEEK THREE: Championships
NFL Championship Predictions