LAKE FOREST – Saturday could be looked at in one of two ways if you are a fan of the Chicago Bears.
It is a lookback at one of the better moments in the last generation of the franchise – just one of three divisional round wins the team has dating back to their last championship in 1985.
At the same time, it also is an example of the team’s futility over the last ten years in the National Football League. Frankly, many are looking at the latter on this January 16th in the year 2021.
It was on this date ten years ago on Saturday that the Bears defeated the Seahawks 35-24 at a snowy Soldier Field. Jay Cutler enjoyed arguably the best game of his Bears’ career, throwing for a pair of touchdowns and running in two more as the Bears built a 28-0 lead in the third quarter.
It wasn’t exactly a win over a daunting opponent, since Seattle went 7-9 and needed a “Beastquake”-aided upset of the reigning champion Saints in the Wild Card round to get there. But it still was a great moment for the franchise as they advanced to their second NFC Championship game in five seasons.
A Super Bowl run was stopped the next week by Aaron Rodgers, who helped the Packers to a 21-14 victory in the first of many moments where he’s tortured the Bears over the past decade.
While January 16, 2011 is a memorable day for the Bears, reflection on the same date ten years later is a bit reserved. Postseason success escaped Lovie Smith, Marc Trestman, John Fox, and now Matt Nagy, with the team losing all three postseason games since that day.
The fact that the team has only made the playoffs twice since January of 2011 is difficult to accept as well, especially considering their opponents in that postseason have each gone onto win championships.
Even with another playoff appearance in 2020, enthusiasm was dampened thanks to an inconsistent team that had its share of flaws in a season that featured a six-game losing streak. Offensive woes continued to plague the team and even the defense showed holes during an 8-8 season where the team needed a loss to sneak in.
The team lost their third-straight playoff game to the Saints last week, yet the franchise has chosen to continue on with Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace. “Culture” was the reason why according to team president Ted Phillips, which he believes could eventually produce postseason success similar to the one the Bears experienced ten years ago.
But for a fan base desperate for success, it’s a wait that’s quite heavy, making this anniversary a bit difficult to bear.