THE NFC CHAMPIONSHIP REVIEW
GREEN BAY 21 , CHICAGO 14
Now one half of the Super Bowl XLV is now set. The NFC Champions are the Green Bay Packers, who in a defensive juggernaut defeated the Chicago Bears this afternoon 21-14.
TOP PERFORMERS GREEN BAY
PASSING: Aaron Rodgers – 17/30, 244 YARDS 0TD 1 RUSHING TD 2 INT PASSER RATING 55.4
RUSHING: James Stark – 22 CARRIES FOR 74 YARDS 1 TD
RECEIVING: Greg Jennings – 8 REC for 130 YARDS 0 TD
TOP PERFORMERS CHICAGO
PASSING: Caleb Hanie – 13/20 153 YARDS 1 TD 2 INT PASSER RATING 65.2
RUSHING: Matt Forte – 17 CARRIES 70 YARDS 0 TD
RECEIVING: Matt Forte – 10 REC 90 YARDS 0 TD
The Green Bay Packers, who received to start the game after the Bears won the coin toss. On their first drive, the Packers scored after driving down the field in 7 plays for 84 yards on a Aaron Rodgers short on from the 1. After that scoring drive, neither the Packers nor the Bears could muster up enough momentum to make other scoring drives happen. A big part of this occuring was the great play of both the Packers and the Bears defenses. In the 2nd Quarter, Packers running back James Stark scored a 4 yard touchdown to comeplete a 5 play 49 yard drive at 11:13 to have the last scoring drive of the 1st half.
|FROM GETTY IMAGES- Greg Olsen gets ball knocked away by Nick Collins (left) and Clay Mattews during NFC Championship game on 1/23/11.
Jay Cutler, who has started most of the season for the Bears, was not having his best day on the football field. After going 6 of 14 for 80 YARDS and 1 INT before leaving the game after Chicago’s first drive of the 3rd Quarter with a banged up knee. No one knows the extent to Cutler’s knee injury, but he did not have any attention by the training staff, no ice applied to it, nor did he ever go to the locker room. Reminded of LaDanian Tomlinson’s last game as a Charger when he took off in the Chargers v. Patriots game of last playoff season, Cutler remained on the sidelines for the duration of the game. Bears head coach Lovie Smith, after Cutler’s injury, replaced him with veteran journeyman Todd Collins, who went 0/4 in one drive for 0 yards.
After Collins’ brief apperance in the game (two series), he was replaced by Caleb Hanie at the end of the 3rd Quarter. Hanie, the Bears’ 3rd string QB, had previously thrown for 66 yards in two years in the NFL. Hanie, in his third year out of Colorado State, scored 1 touchdown and threw for 2 interceptions to pull the Bears to within on score of putting this game into overtime, but threw a costly interception in the 4th Quarter by Sam Shields on the GB 12 that ended a 11 play 82 YARD drive that could have propelled the Bears and Hanie into playoff football legend status.
Brian Urlacher of the Chicago Bears played a stellar first half into the third quarter, picking off Aaron Rodgers just as he was beginning to speed things up to come back into the second half. After nearing running for a pick-6 in the interception, Aaron Rodgers perhaps made the play of the game, stopping him on the CHICAGO 45. When the Bears got the ball back after this huge play, that’s when Todd Collins came into the game for Cutler — the Bears subsequently went 3-and-out.
As this game of stellar defensive play went on, the Chicago Bears ineptitude on offense (and Green Bay’s for most of the game) allowed their defense to have to stay on the field longer, only to be worn down by Rodgers and the Green Bay offense. While Green Bay not being able to get sound drives all the way to the red-zone allowed Chicago to hang in a tight game. The Bears did not score a touchdown until the 4th Quarter on an 8 play 67 yard drive at the end of the 3rd Quarter to make it 14-7 PACKERS. As the game continued, the Bears defense, as Urlacher appeared to slow down, was led by Lance Briggs and continued to stifle scoring attempts by Green Bay. The biggest defensive play was made by B.J. Raji as he intercepted Hanie by dropping down into coverage and intercepted him for a 18 yard touchdown to take the PACKERS up 21-7. Hanie answered his mistake on the very next drive, as he no-huddled pass to Earl Bennett for a 35 yard touchdown to make it 21-13 PACKERS with 4:43 to go in the 4th. As the Packers went three-and-out on their next drive, the Bears seemed to be poised to score to possibly tie the game. Just as they begin to build statues of Hanie outside of Soldier Field, he is intercepted by Sam Shields on the GB 12 to end the Chicago Bears hopes of playing in Super Bowl XLV.
A tough defensive battle from start to finish, the NFC will be represented by the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XLV on February 6th in Dallas.
stats from espn.com images from google.com and chicagobears.com