And now, back to the game ...
The Bears won the coin toss prior to the NFC Championship Game on Sunday, but it would be the last thing they won this season. The Packers marched -- galloped, actually -- 84 yards on seven plays for a touchdown on the opening drive. The Bears took the second-half kickoff and had great field position at the Packers 40, but went three-and-out and lost Jay Cutler for the rest of the game because of a sprained MCL.
Coach Lovie Smith said deferring the option to kick or receive at the start of the game was a sign of faith in his defense.
''We have done that a lot of the times. That's what we like to do,'' Smith said. ''In an ideal world you let their offense go out there, you have them backed up, which we did You pin 'em, get the crowd into it right away and you take off from there. And then in the second half you get the ball.
''Of course a part of the plan was stopping that first drive and we didn't.''
Other highlights from Lovie Smith's Monday press conference:
On whether he expects coaching staff changes in the offseason:
''I think when you have a successful year, you do some good things, people look at your staff. I wouldn't be surprised. I'm hoping that we'll be able to keep our same staff in place, but it seems like that never happens. But again I'm hopeful well be able to keep everyone around.''
On Jay Cutler's performance:
''Our performance. Jay, the rest of our football team. The performance wasn't good enough. At home, the biggest game we've played in a long time, that's not the start we wanted. Jay didn't play as well as I thought he would have played finishing up, once we got momentum. Again, it was me all the way down -- we didn't perform the way we needed to early on.
"Jay led us to 12 wins. We had a heck of a year. Finished short but we had a heck of a year. He's our quarterback and done a lot of great things for us. I can't wait for our future together with him leading our team."
On the offense, which ranked 30th in the NFL, reaching the same level as the defense, which ranked ninth:
''I like our football team. I think we made a lot of progress this year. I know the numbers sometimes [belie that]. [But] in order to win 12 games in this league you have to have some power on the offensive side of the ball.
''We made a lot of progress. As we look at our future, what Matt Forte will be able to do this coming year. Of an offensive line fighting through injuries, but to finish that way. Our receivers. Our quarterback. I'm excited about the direction our offense is going.''
On Jay Cutler being impacted by the criticism he has received:
''I don't think anyone wants to be criticized, especially by your peers -- guys in the same fraternity. But to me, that's not on Jay. That's on the guys that chose to do that.
What type of guy would do that? I mean, we're down right now. We lost a game. We're going through quite a bit. So the dog pile a little bit, you'd have to talk to those guys.''
On whether he has a rooting interest in the Super Bowl:
''No, not really. I would have if we had been in it. But I'm a football fan. As I said yesterday, Mike McCarthy has done a great job with the Packers. They deserve to be there. Mike Tomlin has done a super job with the Steelers. It should be a heck of a game.''