Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher and Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick entered the NFL just a year apart – Urlacher in 2000; Vick in 2001. With both players residing in the NFC throughout their careers, the two have become very familiar with each other.
"It's very unique," Vick said Thursday. "The fact that we both came in around the same time and we've had so many epic battles against one another, all that I've been on the losing end of."
QB Michael Vick
Since 2001, Vick has started three games against Chicago – three with Atlanta and one with Philadelphia – but has come up short each time. Throughout most of those matchups, Urlacher served as a "spy" on Vick, shadowing the fleet-footed quarterback to limit his effectiveness out of the pocket. The only time Vick was ever on the winning end of a game against the Bears was in 2009, when he served as Donovan McNabb's backup.
Vick believes Urlacher's presence in each of those games played a big part in each defeat.
"You've got Brian Urlacher leading that defense and when you've got a player like that, he can demand greatness out of a lot of other players," he said.
The two will square off as starters for the fourth time Monday night. The stakes are high for both teams. A win for the Bears (4-3) or Eagles (3-4) would greatly improve each team's chance of making the playoffs heading into the second half of the season. And if both teams are sitting on the edge of the playoffs with identical records come season's end, Monday's contest will serve as the tiebreaker.
"Both [teams] know what's at stake and how critical it is right now in our division," Vick said. "Both teams want to stay on the path of winning and continue to play good football. It's unfortunate that we have to go against each other and somebody has to win, but that's the game."
Vick said that whatever the outcome, he's looking forward to once again lining up across from Urlacher.
"The opportunity to play against him and the great player that he is and what he brings to the table, it's a pleasure and honor to play against him," said Vick. "It was always a challenge, so that's what it's about: the best going against the best.
Reid impressed with Forte
Two of the best running backs in the league, Philadelphia's LeSean McCoy and Chicago's Matt Forte, will square off on Monday night. McCoy is second in the NFL in rushing yards (754) and Forte is sixth (672). Forte leads the league in yards from scrimmage (1,091) and McCoy is fifth (892).
RB Matt Forte
Eagles head coach Andy Reid has been quite impressed with what he's seen on film of Chicago's star runner.
"You turn on the film, and he jumps out at you," Reid said Thursday. "You think you have him, and then you don't. That's a pretty good quality to have as a running back. He can make you miss, he can run over you, he can run inside, he can run outside, and he catches the ball like a wide receiver."
Forte has accounted for 46 percent of Chicago's offense this year, so it's no surprise to anyone that he's typically the focal point of Martz's game plan. Reid doesn't see that changing this week.
"Obviously, Mike [Martz] has a tremendous amount of confidence in him, calling plays for him," said Reid. "And Jay has a tremendous amount of confidence in him, throwing him the football."
Forte has 194 yards on 47 rushing attempts (4.1-yard average) and 11 catches for 84 yards (7.6-yard average) in three career games vs. the Eagles. He had 117 yards on 14 carries in last season's game.
Follow me on Twitter: @BearReport
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.