Lady Luck Digging Chicago This Year

While the Chicago Bears deserve plenty of credit for going 11-5 and winning the division, it is impossible to ignore the presence of Lady Luck spending some considerable time in the Windy City this year.

Getting the sub-.500 Seahawks at home on Sunday is just the latest stroke of good luck the Chicago Bears have enjoyed all season. That's not to take anything away from what has been an outstanding all-around team effort from a group that got little respect all year.

But it's almost eerie how the breaks have fallen the Bears' way this year. How often did Lady Luck smile on the Bears this season? Let's count the ways.

First, the Bears are healthier than any team still playing. The only player with any NFL experience on injured reserve in backup linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer. 29 starters or key backups missed no games or just one because of injury.

It should have been obvious that this was going to be the Bears' season after the opener. They fell behind the Lions 14-3, but just before halftime Julius Peppers forced a fumble on a blind-side sack of quarterback Matthew Stafford that knocked him out of that game. The ball was recovered by Tommie Harris, setting up a Bears field goal. Later, the Bears went 0-for-4 from the Lions' 1-yard line but still took a 19-14 lead with 1:32 left in the game.

Just over a minute later, Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson leaped for a pass in the end zone, caught the ball, came down with one foot on the ground, then a second, fell down while still possessing the ball and then let go of the ball as he got to his feet. After a meeting of the officials, it was ruled no catch, to the amazement of everyone except the Bears, whose lead was preserved even after a booth review.

The ruling was that Johnson did not maintain possession of the ball throughout the entire process of the catch. In layman's terms, the officials made a correct interpretation of an idiotic rule.

In Week 3, the Bears caught the Packers after their featured running back, Ryan Grant, coming off back-to-back 1,200-yard seasons, had already been lost for the season with a knee injury. But this one can't be counted in the lucky category. As the Packers proved all season, they are a great team even without Grant. They had just 43 rushing yards from running backs vs. the Bears, but the Bears got only 38 yards from their running backs.


DT Tommie Harris
Jonathan Daniel/Getty

In Week 5, the Bears had the good fortune to face the Panthers with disappointing rookie quarterback Jimmy Clausen behind the wheel. He was awful, but the Bears didn't need any luck to whip the Panthers.

After the Bears won their first two games following the bye, their good-luck streak of facing third-string quarterbacks in three consecutive road games kicked in. All three games were Bears victories.

In Week 11 in South Florida, the Bears' offense struggled and quarterback Jay Cutler played poorly. But not as poorly as Tyler Thigpen, the Dolphins' No. 3 quarterback, who was making his first start in two years. He was sacked six times and intercepted once in a 16-0 Bears win.

Two weeks later, in a 24-20 victory, the Bears faced the Lions' No. 3 quarterback, Drew Stanton, who posted a 102.4 passer rating in his first start of the season and just the second of his three-year career. You wonder if the Lions might have won if Stafford or No. 2 Shaun Hill had played.

Then there was the fiasco in Minnesota. With the roof of the Metrodome caved in by heavy snow, the game was shifted to the University of Minnesota's outdoor stadium, eliminating the Vikings' dome-field advantage. Shortly after Brett Favre led a touchdown drive on the opening possession, he was pulverized on a sack by Bears defensive end Corey Wootton that resulted in a concussion and the end of Favre's season. With backup Tarvaris Jackson already out with a toe injury, the Vikings had to call on rookie Joe Webb, who had thrown a total of five NFL passes prior to that. The Bears picked him off twice in a 40-14 rout.

As Hall of Fame pitcher Lefty Gomez once said, "I'd rather be lucky than good."

This season, the Bears have been both. So far, it's been a pretty potent combination.


Bear Report: The only publication exclusively dedicated to your Chicago Bears.


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