Within Their Grasp

Dick Jauron has insisted throughout the season that his team hadn't accomplished anything, until Sunday. The Bears clinched their first playoff berth since 1994 and are in control of the Central Division with three games left to play.

"It was great to secure a playoff spot," Jauron said. "That was clearly one of our goals going into the season. And we got some help last night too from Tennessee. So the next step is to try to get the division."

Green Bay's loss to Tennessee puts them one game behind the Bears. Chicago is guaranteed the division title and a first round bye if the team can win at Washington, at Detroit and home against Jacksonville. Home field advantage throughout the playoffs is still within reach if the Rams lose one of their remaining three games and the Bears win out.

"We are going to try to keep winning, and play as many playoff games at Soldier Field as we can," said Brian Urlacher.

Having a home game in the postseason could ease the nerves of an inexperienced team, but the Bears have played well on the road all year. Either way Jauron deserves credit for taking a Bears team that was expected to win a handful of games and turning them into a threat to win the NFC.

His players have backed him all year and honored their coach with the game ball following the Tampa game.

"It was a great feeling to have them hand me that dirty ball," Jauron said. "I like those things. I definitely will put that up somewhere. That was a surprise."

Jauron could receive another surprise in the coming days. There have been reports that GM Jerry Angelo is prepared to offer Jauron a contract extension. However, Jauron insists he isn't thinking about anything but the Redskins.

"I feel like Washington is our next opponent and I'm not concerned with anything else," he said. "There's nothing else that worries me really except Washington."

ON THE FAST TRACK: Anthony Thomas, who ran for 173 yards against Tampa, now ranks 5th in the NFC in rushing with 865 yards. The "A-Train" trails only LaDainian Tomlinson, who has 1053 yards, in rookie rushing. Thomas has an outside shot of catching Tomlinson despite missing two games due to a hamstring injury and not becoming Chicago's starting running back until the sixth game of the season. The Charges only have two games remaining on their schedule, so if Thomas can get enough carries over the Bears three remaining games he could make a late run at Tomlinson. The Bears running back has does hold a considerable advantage in yards per carry with an average gain of 4.4 per rush, while Tomlinson averages 3.5.

INJURY REPORT: There were no major injuries to report coming out of the Bucs game.

HELPING HAND: Former Bear Skip Hicks, who was cut days before the season opener, was a major reason that the Titans defeated the Packers. He rushed for 143 yards including a third down conversion that ended any hope for a Green Bay comeback.

"I know Skip Hicks had a great game for them. That was good to see. It was really good to see, obviously, particularly down near the end, the third-and-5 play when they converted. That was the game. So I was very happy for them, happy for Skip and happy for us."

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