You remember my football picture:
For those of you who weren't in on the joke at the time, the Green Bay Packers' colors are green and gold, the Chicago Bears' colors are blue and orange.
The caption when I first posted this was "Coming Dec. 29th." The date of the second Bears-Packers conference meeting for 2013. For the first time since I moved back to Wisconsin, I was rooting for the Bears against the Packers yesterday.
I think Bears fans might want me to stop doing that.
I couldn't have foreseen how dramatic the teams' second meeting would be. By virtue of a tie with the Vikings many games ago, the Packers could knock the Bears out of the Division title with a win yesterday. By virtue of the fact that the NFC North leaders have the worst records of any Division champs, the losing team would go home.
It was winner take all.
So here's what I wrote to both a couple of Packer-fan friends and a couple of Bear-fan friends last Monday:
Here's what SHOULD happen: AR [Aaron Rodgers, Packers quarterback] should not play, and the Packers should lose to the Bears. AR can have a solid offseason to recover. Then, with a rested and rarin' to go quarterback and running back in the prime of their respective careers, and defensive draft picks in the offseason, Green Bay will tear up the League next year and win another Super Bowl. And this year, Chicago will go on to at least the NFC Championship game.
Here's what WILL happen: The Packers will beat the Bears with or without AR. The reason is that Green Bay always breaks Chicago's hearts, and what better way to break their hearts than to knock them out of first place AND the playoffs at the same time, in a game which will most likely remain meaningless for the Pack either way? It's karma; it's destiny; it has to happen. Packers 21, Bears 20. The Packers will take the lead for the first time in the last 40 seconds, just to grind it in.
And here's what did happen. Aaron Rodgers, knocked out for half the season by the Bears in week 9, did come back. At the end of the game, the Bears were leading by the ominous-looking (to Packers fans) score of 28-27. The Packers, making one last desperate drive for a possible field goal to eke out a win, were being pretty well stopped: they had already survived one fourth down and had fourth and eight near mid-field with 38 second left to play—for you European readers, that means they have one chance to make at least eight yards or they lose the ball—and Aaron Rodgers threw a giant arcing touchdown to Randall Cobb (also newly returned from a broken leg). Packers 33, Bears 28.
I was two seconds off.
Well, and had a few details wrong. But still, that's the spookiest football prediction I've ever made.
Aaron Rodgers unloads the game-winning pass.
Photo by Rick Wood, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
I thought the Bears would have gone further in the playoffs.
If San Francisco thrashes the tar out of the Green Bay defense next weekend it will be hollow consolation to all my Bear-fan friends, who know that the Upper Midwest's very own private Super Bowl took place yesterday...and those @!#%! Packers did it to them again.
But for Bears fans smarting over that weird fumble-recovery touchdown: notice in the replay that #50, Bears linebacker James Anderson, got to the live ball first. If he had scooped it up and run with it, that whacky TD might have gone the other way. It was really his assumption that the play was dead that made that play unfold the way it did.
I actually don't know how to feel about this. I feel elated...and I feel stunned. I've lived in Milwaukee, and I've lived in Chicago. I love the Bears, and I love the Packers. I have Bears-fan friends and Packers-fan friends. I even live between Green Bay and Chicago, more or less. By all rights, Sunday's game should have made my head explode....
But what a game.
"Open Mike," a day late this week, is the off-topic editorial page of TOP.
Original contents copyright 2013 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved. Links in this post may be to our affiliates; sales through affiliate links may benefit this site.
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Featured Comments from:
John Haines: "As you say, what a game! Glad for the Pack and especially for Rodgers, who after having his collarbone broken by the Bears Shea McClellin in game 9 that sidelined him for the remainder of the season, until last night when he rendered his own kind of poetic justice. I too had mixed feelings about the game. My wife is from Chicago (we live in NY) but I've always liked the Packers, at least partly because they are the only non-profit, community-owned major league professional sports team in the United States. Chicago has the loop, the second tallest building in the world, the Art Institute, and so much more. Green Bay has meatpacking plants and the Packers. What else do they have to cheer for up there in the frozen tundra?"
Mike replies: Well, the Packers are really the team for all of Wisconsin...which has approximately the same number of people as the city of Chicago and environs. And the tundra here where I live is pretty well frozen today, lemme tell ya.
Al Benas: "Wow; talk about weird coincidences. I graduated from Virginia Tech—founded in 1872—which only gained initial national recognition when Michael Vick played there. I always root for pro teams with Tech alumni (Carroll Dale played for the Packers in the first Super Bowl). So now Tech alum James Anderson (Bears) watched as Tech alum Jarrett Boykin (Packers) picked up the fumble and scored. Somebody wasn't listening to Coach Beamer's fumble recovery lecture. Bittersweet day :-( ."