Sunday, January 21, 2007

Saints vs. Bears: Live Blogging [J. Mark English]

6:02 pm - As the Bears methodically march down the field, eating up clock... Its becoming a reality that the Chicago Bears will play in two weeks in the Super Bowl, and that the Saints will return home to the besieged city of New Orleans. The Saints should be commended for the year that they have had, and given that the nucleus of their team is young, they should be contenders for years to come. As for the Bears, they will be considered heavy underdogs. But if they play like they did in the fourth quarter today...dominating defense...a suffocating running game (Thomas Jones just scored again), and precise passing from Grossman...they should give the AFC representative a fight for their money. Lovie Smith will be the first African-American coach, and I'm sure that they will be covered a lot, as well it should be. The score as of now, Bears 39, Saints 14.

5:58 pm
- The Bears can start stamping their tickets to Miami. The writing is on the wall right now, and the Saints have just seven and a half minutes left to their season... They just lost the ball on downs.

5:53 pm
- The Saints are starting to self-combust. Brees threw an interception, but fortunately for them, the Bears could not manage to get a first down. Time is running out on their fairytale season. Just over eight minutes left to go.

5:44 pm
- Benson scores a touchdown for the Bears, and as Troy Aikman said, now this puts the Saints in dire straights. They need three scores in about 11 minutes, if they hope to have a prayer of playing in Miami. The Bears are in the driver seat, now they just have to hold off any comeback. Bears 32, Saints 14.

5:42 pm
- Bears do get the ball. This is an oppurtunity for the Bears to start to wind the clock down, and put the game out of reach for the Saints.

5:36 pm
- Panic time for the Saints. The monsters of the midway have reawakened as they got pressure on Brees and forced a fumble. At first the ruling on the field was that it was not a turnover, but with the replay, the Bears should get the ball, with great field position.

5:33 pm
- Through thick falling snow, Grossman found Bernard Berrian at the goal line, as he caught a thirty three yard touchdown pass. Bears 25, Saints 14.

5:31 pm
- I'd love to sit in the FOX production truck and watch the magicians turn around game film into instant Sports Center worthy highlights.

5:28 pm
- As the weather transitions into a winter wonderland, Grossman is beginning to find his mojo. He's just thrown two big time completions. End of the third quarter, Bears on the move at mid field. Bears 18, Saints 14.

5:25 pm
- The way Urlacher 'commands' the defense, maybe he would make a better quarterback then Grossman.

5:22 pm
- Not to be outdone, Grossman just delivered another three and out, and the Saints get the ball right back. If Grossman is still playing, how pathetic must their second and third string QBs be?

5:19 pm
- Mr. Brees just made a big mistake. Intentional grounding in the endzone. So the Bears get an unearned safety. Bears 18, Saints 14.

5:18 pm
- Does anyone know what referees do in the offseason?

5:15 pm
- On the other hand, Grossman has a quarterback rating of now which stands at 39.5. Yucky!

5:10 pm
- Billy Cundiff (the back up kicker) of the Saints just missed a 49 yard field goal. The Bears managed to tightened up on defense. But Brees already has 295 yards passing...and its still relatively early in the third quarter. And the snow is now really starting to fall. Oh baby, gotta love football in January :-).

5:08 pm
- Mike Karney = Mike Alstott?

5:05 pm
- Brees is starting to put on a clinic. He's thriving as the game goes on. The more pressure the Bears put on him, the more he's able to find an open man.

5:03 pm
- Some of these drug commercials are a bit over the top. I don't need to know about the problems some old person is having with their digestive track, and then be shown what is actually happening in their body. Let me eat my greasy, fatty foods in peace!

5:00 pm
- My brother, who lives in New Orleans, went to Mass this morning, and every one was dressed in Saints garb in one way or another. Those people are loving this team. Its rare, but special when a team can lift the spirits of a city or a country. But its happening right now.

4:55 pm
- My jaw is bruised from dropping on the floor... Reggie Bush just executed an 88 yard catch and run for a touchdown. Wow! Euphoric dancing is happening on Bourbon street to the tune of Bush. He's just brought the Saints with-in two! That was the longest play from scrimmage in an NFC Championship game. Bears 16, Saints 14.

4:51 pm
- Bears started out the second half with Grossman throwing duds. I know that the Saints are stacking up men inside the box, but why not continue to run, until the Saints show they can stop Jones or Benson. Or at least try a play action and then throw short, or throw a screen. Two missed bombs by Grossman will not help the Bears.

4:48 pm
- The one edge this game has over the AFC game, is that its outdoors, and the weather elements can effect the game. Light snow, or some might say a "dusting" is beginning to fall in Chicago. The latest weather report: Scattered flurries and snow showers. Low 27 F. Winds NNW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of snow 30%.

4:34 pm
- End of the first half. What can one say? Its brutal out there in Chicago, but the last few minutes of the half showed some excitement as both teams were able to demonstrate that they can climb out of a dormat type of play. Still, the game so far has lived up to its "black sheep" level of expectation compared to the game later on today. At the half its the Bears 16, Saints 7.

4:30 pm
- Saints have broken free of the coffin, if there was one... They score in a pivotal drive that will send them into the locker room with plenty of momentum. Colston came up huge, and Brees showed why he was an MVP candidate. Bears 16, Saints 7.

4:26 pm
- Saints are finally catching, and holding on to the ball. They're deep into Bears territory for the first time.

4:21 pm
- First nail in the coffin? Bears just punched through...scoring behind eight straigh runs by Thomas Jones. Does Chicago begin the Super Bowl shuffle? Bears 16, Saints 0.

4:18 pm
- On this current drive for the Dan Patrick would say, "you can't stop Jones, you can only hope to contain him." The Bears are knocking at the door, on the 2 yard line at the 2:00 warning.

4:16 pm
- I say that, and Thomas Jones runs for thirty yards on the Saints. The Bears have mastered the draw play. They killed the Giants with it earlier this year on a 3rd and 22.

4:15 pm
- Who'd have thought that Cedric Benson, and Thomas Jones could out produce Deuce McAllister and Reggie Bush?

4:03 pm
- I take that apology back. Once again the Bears get inside the 10, and the Bears looked dazed and confused. But Robbie Gould makes it 9-0 in favor of the Bears. Its beginning to feel a bit like 1985 all over again. By the way, when the Bears won their only Super Bowl back in 1985, they won in New Orleans against...the Patriots! And the Patriots of course would return to New Orleans two more times after that, to lose to the Packers in 1996, and then finally win, defeating the Rams in 2001.

4:01 pm - Apologies to Rex Grossman for comparing him to Eli Manning. He just completed a thirty yard pass.

3:55 pm
- I wonder how many times Sean Payton is asked for ID before he goes into a bar? He could pass for a 13 year old. ---------->

3:51 pm
- Bears just got another trifecta, and are up 6-0 after a 43 yard field goal. If your the Saints I think you need to look at this game with glass half full perspective. After coughing up the ball several times, your only down by a point less then a touchdown. They should consider themselves fortunate. Now can they hold on to the ball?

3:50 pm
- By the way, if your reading may want to click "reload" or "refresh" every few minutes to see the updates on this live blogging post.

3:47 pm
- The Saints so far have as many fumbles as the Bears do points. The Bears should have many more points by now!

3:45 pm -
Alrighty then, I was wrong...the Saints lost the ball, the call stands, and Chicago will have the ball deep in New Orleans territory. Yikes...should we begin the Super Bowl shuffle for the Bears? So far they are in a position to romp...they just need to score. End of the first quarter. Bears up by three.

3:42 pm
- Saints just fumbled on the kick off return, after Chicago went up 3-0, but it looked like the player was down. I think it'll be retained by New Orleans. But gee whiz, hold on to the ball Saints! Bears 3, Saints 0.

3:40 pm
- Is that Eli Manning in a Grossman uniform? Talk about a lack of confidence...he's pathetic!

3:38 pm
- Its a moot point since they made the first down. But Rex Grossman just pulled a Chris Webber...calling a time out when he wasn't allowed to, but got away with it, right before making it 1st and 10.

3:36 pm
- Its 4th and 1 at the 4 yard line...I think its idiotic to not take the easy three points this early in the game...but they're going for it...

3:32 pm
- Colston for the first time, with that fumble, looked like a rookie. Terrible ball handling.

3:31 pm
- "The teams will have a tough day on this SOUPY field"....

3:29 pm
- Great headline from the Onion: Peyton Manning Looking Forward To Ninth Annual Super-Bowl-Watching Party.

3:28 pm - Okay, I think its time for Chicago to install field turf at Soldiers Stadium. The field is just making this game ugly.

3:24 pm
- Defensive struggle or just a boring start? Both teams have gone three and out twice.

3:20 pm
- Hard to believe the Bears didn't recover the fumble by Brees. The Saints, for having excellent field position in their first two drives have done nothing. They had a similar start last week against the Eagles.

3:16 pm
- Its hard to hear Joe Bucks voice and not think of baseball...Couldn't they just let Dick Stockton call the game?

3:12 PM
- Sure are some interesting fans at the game...

3:07 pm
- And we're off!

3:03 pm
- Although most people outside of Chicago will be rooting for the American Saints today. They have basically been adopted by the rest of the country as the team to root for. Funny how in 2001 after 9/11 it was the Patriots who won the Super Bowl, making us all feel like Patriots...and doing it in of all places, New Orleans. If the Pats meet up against the Saints, the Pats will be enemy number one.

3:02 pm - Just read a great article by Kevin Kaduk of the Northwest Herald about the Bears, and their opportunity to seize this moment.

2:59 pm - I think the announcing team on FOX is a lot better then CBS. As much as I liked Phil Simms as a quarterback, he's too fluffy to be an effective color analyst. Troy Aikman on FOX is much more analytical and he is very fair to both sides. He's not trying to be the next John Madden, he just tells it as it is.

2:58 pm - I wonder how many people are doing this today?

2:55 pm - Well, its cold outside, but I'm snugged in, nice and warm, I have my beverage, my TV set on to FOX NFL Sunday, and my computer is ready to hum as I will be blogging live through out the NFC Championship game.

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