Chicago Sun-Times

Upon further review, Bears have rested players in finale before

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The Bears kept quarterback Rex Grossman on the sideline for the 2005 regular-season finale at the Metrodome and they yanked most of their key starters early in the first half of that game with nothing at stake.

Now, they're counting on the New York Giants, who have already secured the No. 1 seed and homefield advantage throughout the playoffs in the NFC, to go to Minnesota and play their hearts out. A Giants' victory coupled with a win by the Bears at Houston on Sunday will secure the NFC North for them. Otherwise, the Bears need a win and a loss by Dallas and Tampa Bay to wiggle in via the wild card. That scenario ranks highly unlikely.

Having New York go out at full strength seems almost as unlikely, not with running back Brandon Jacobs battling a knee issue that has lingered through the second half of the season. Not with some of the other injuries the Giants are dealing with.

"You've got to talk to them about that,'' Bears coach Lovie Smith said. "We're going to be at full strength. All of our guys will be out there playing. I know that for a fact."

Smith was asked if it is a tough decision, balancing the roster at season's end with a desire to win but a need to prepare for the postseason.

"I don't see it like that at all," Smith said. "You play to win, period. Last year, we were out of it with two games left to go in the season. We played every guy we had that we thought gave us an opportunity to win, we played them. There was no looking forward to the future and all that. You play every game like it is your last one, period. I assume all teams will do that."

That's not what the Bears did when they closed the season out against the Vikings in '02, however, having locked themselves into the No. 2 seed in the conference. They wanted Grossman's ankle to heal and other starters came out early, including middle linebacker Brian Urlacher.

Giants coach Tom Coughlin shed some light on the issue this morning at a press conference in New York as the Giants went to work on their normal day off because of the holiday week.

"Our position, as always, is we try to win every game,'' he said. "And my answer to all of your questions will be that in conjunction with the medical people and with the idea to improve our gave having individual performances at a higher level than we did in the last game, which is always our theme, we'll do the best thing for our football team. And the individual questions and all that stuff, you're going to have to wait on that because as I said, we're going to be able to look at and talk to the medical people to make decisions on that.

"We always believe at this time of the year it's important to be playing your best football. We'd like to continue to do that but we will do the right thing and the smart thing about our team."

Coughlin was asked if the Vikings' situation, needing a win to get into the playoffs, would play into his thinking and planning.

"Well, you have to be aware of the fact they they have a tremendous amount at stake and they are going to play as hard as they can possibly play," he said. "Every player in our locker room has to understand that. Forty-five guys we put on the field have got to play to the best of their ability with outstanding intensity, great physical play because we certainly expect and know that that is the mind set the Viking team will take and rightfully so."

The Giants went all-out in their finale last season against the New England Patriots even though New York was locked in as the No. 5 seed in the playoffs. That was a little different. History was on the line with the Patriots bidding for a perfect season. New York was looking to build momentum.

"No years are the same, no situations are the same," Coughlin said. "This will be dealt with as it should be under the context of where we are and again, as I said, the medical people will have a lot to say about that."

Sounds like he's prepping the Bears for bad news, that the doctors are going to hold some key players out of the game.

"It has nothing to do with me," Smith said. "Every coach in the league has a chance to do what he wants to with his team. We shouldn't have to think about what someone else is doing or help someone does something to help us. We need to do what we can do to help ourselves and that's win. It all comes back to one game, Houston. That's all we're going to concentrate on is that. We're all going to show up and try to get a win."

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12 Comments

In my opinion (other than their own play) the Bears have been screwed by the NFC South this season. Not only losing to Atlanta, Carolina, and Tampa Bay in the 4th quarter of each game, but also by Carolina blowing it against the Giants this past Sunday. The Giants would be going all out had they not come from behind to beat the Panthers. I advise all Bears fans to not get their hopes up at all when it comes to this coming weekend and getting into the playoffs. All in all, despite a few clutch wins, this '08 team is a tease.

Scary, Scary and more scary.

Orton played very poorly telegraphing his throws and can he develop a deep pass is questionable. Orton however is a leader that seems to get the job done. Franchise quarterback most likely not but who knows, he might just prove me wrong.

The D saved the day all game, overall good game and very good cornerback play, Harris showed up as did A brown. The linebackers were good overall and special teams well they were just special.

Coaching well the team sure seemed lackluster until the third quarter. I am all for a more motivational leader and a few changes in the coaching for next year.

With all of that said, I still believe they may just get to the playoffs and in the playoffs they have shown that they can hold their own against just about every team on the board.

Good luck Bears, who knows miracles can happen again and just not in Olympic hockey games.

You failed to mention a big, big difference Brad.

Coughlin is not Lovie Smith, and the situations are different.

This is the same Tom Coughlin who, despite having wrapped up his playoff position last year, refused to lie down before the Patriots last season.

Coughlin believes in going into the playoffs on a solid standing, because that gives a team momentum -- especially with a week off in between.

He may rest Jacobs and others who are obviously hurt, but he is not going to roll over and play dead.

The Giants aren't exactly rolling into the playoffs. They have some things to work on, especially playing at a high level four quarters, and think that is what will want to see.

Another thing -- the Vikings were not a playoff team in 2006. So the game was meaningless beyond the draft.

Again, Coughlin is a competitor. And putting it to a team you may face in the playoffs may be motivation enough.

It certainly worked last season.

When the shoe is on the other foot and pinching, even Lovie is entitled to a little wishful thinking and short memory syndrome. I suspect that Jacobs will rest and that Eli will only play the first half.Frankly, faulting the Giants on that scenario would be decidedly unfair. We can wish that the starters play the whole game and demolish the Vikings, but I seriously doubt that will happen.One only hopes the Giant subs are good enough and hungry enough to win anyway.What times are the respective games? Will the Bears be out of contention before they take the field?

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!

The games @ noon:
1. Bears @ Texans
2. Giants @ Vikings
3. Oakland @ TB

The game at 3:15:
1. Dallas @ Philly

And to Ben: Remember that the Vikings have Tavaris Jackson at QB. He is bad as in worse than either Grossman or Orton (and Orton is OK). And remember that Coughlin will force his team to play hard. And remember that the Vikings have come to be perennial chokers.

Once again the teams the Bears need to lose are all favorites again this week. But guess what, 4 of them were favorites last week, and all 4 lost.

Go Bears!

The most likely reason for the Giants making the effort to win is their preference of playing the Bears in the playoffs and avoiding the Vikings in a second game within a few weeks and when they have the Williams Wall back in action.

I think the biggest question going into this weekend is the Bears game. If they win, I think they make the playoffs. Obviously, if they don't, they don't.

Nobody really knows what to expect in the Giants-Viqueens game. It's a crap-shoot and I personally would not bet on either team. I do know that Coughlin is not going to play it soft. Minnesota is way too inconsistent for anybody to count either on or out. There is at least a 50-50 chance the queens can't make it happen.

This wildcard deal seemed like impossible a couple weeks ago, but enough stars have already aligned that it could happen. Think Philly is going to lay down for Dallas? Not likely, even if they are out of it by then. Dallas is probably the most over-rated team in the league. Philly is like Chicago in that you gotta really want to play to win in Philly after Christmas. I think Tony Romeo and friends could come out in the second half and start thinking about someplace warm instead of football.

Tampa has a walk over against Oakland? Remember Oakland doesn't like Gruden. That might be old news to some, but it's like yesterday to big Al. Oakland has been playing decent lately while Tampa has been stinking it up.

Again, my biggest concern is the Texans. Orton better show up, or none of this matters because the Bears will lose. If they win this other stuff has a good chance to work itself out.

The Texans were embarrassed by their poor play against the Raiders last Sunday and will be "loaded for Bear" against your team this Sunday. Look for AJ to get over 150 yds receiving and Super Mario to get 2 - 3 sacks against Orton. Final Score: Texans 24 Bears 14.

The bears will make it into the playoffs and lose to the Cowboys in the NFC champ. game..Mark my words people!!

TexasBJ,

Aside from getting embarassed by Oakland what is Houston's motivation for this game? Chicago has their playoff life hanging in the balance and Houston has to play one game, cash a paycheck and call it a season. Not exactly equal in what they want.

As far as the game is concerned it does worry me that Mike Brown is out and Chicago's pass defense has been pi$$ poor all season long. The defense has to come to play like last week. If they do, we can all scoreboard watch to see if Tarvaris Jackson completely implodes like we all know he can do.

Aside from that I had Chicago finishing 9-7 this season so I hope I am wrong. If the woulda, coulda, shouldas were in play we would not be having this discussion. Regardless change is needed at the defensive coordinator position, the offensive line coach, and Chicago has A LOT of holes to fill at wide receiver, o-line, and safety.

Hoping for a Bear win but not counting on the playoffs this year.

BJ what are you smoking? You and TM need to hang together, Cowboys are going down, the only championship game the Cowboys will have this year will be in lawn bowling. I know why Romo has a hard time concentrating on football and wanting to get out of there in the fourth quarter.

Go BEARS!!!!!!!

"The Texans were embarrassed by their poor play against the Raiders last Sunday and will be "loaded for Bear" against your team this Sunday. Look for AJ to get over 150 yds receiving and Super Mario to get 2 - 3 sacks against Orton. Final Score: Texans 24 Bears 14."
-Some yahoo

Excuse me, but when you lose to the Raiders, all your rights to trash talking go flying out the sliding door.

Look for 1.) AJ(oke) to get some catches and no points.
2.) Super Mario falling into a green pipe and being gobbled up by a plant with teeth.
3.) Slaton averaging .07 yards per carry
4.) Da Bears marching into the playoffs!

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on December 23, 2008 1:19 PM.

Initial thoughts: Bears live to fight another day because of special teams was the previous entry in this blog.

Special teams in need of help: Worrell to be signed is the next entry in this blog.

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