To me, football is art, it's a novel, it's poetry. If I didn't have this outlet, I don't know what I'd do with my energy. Being able to express myself on the field is the most wonderful feeling. At times like this, it's hard to express just how meaningful the game is to me.
I'm sure that anybody who watched the game will say, ‘OK Brendon, it's fine that you go on and on like that, but I saw you hit another player so hard that your helmet flew off and you still kept after him. That sounds like brute force to me.'
Well, in a sense that's true. Once I'm out there, the adrenaline starts going and I'll keep on with my moves no matter what might be happening to my equipment. Most players would react in exactly the same way.
Look at Carl Ford's game. Today he lost a shoe early on while he was running down the field. Did he stop? Of course not. Just like me, Carl was completely absorbed in the moment and probably hardly noticed he was short some footwear until one of the refs brought the missing shoe to him later. It was wet and slippery on the field, but from what I saw, Carl never hesitated for a second. He just continued and made a play.
On another level, this game was meaningful to the special teams unit because it proved that when we need to get the job done, we can come through. The Ravens and the Bears both have similarly defense oriented teams. It was clear to us before the game ever began that the key to the win would be through favorable field position. In most cases, that means that special teams has to get the ball down field and down it there so the offense can come back on and have a good chance at a score.
I can't give enough credit to Brad Maynard. He kept Baltimore pinned back there behind the 20 over and over again. That is incredibly difficult under the kind of weather conditions we endured today. Think about it. The wind was howling and the rain was pelting down the field almost sideways. There was standing water and it was incredibly cold. You try going out and making a perfect punt under those circumstances. And the fact that Brad had a strained calf made it all the more remarkable. What a valuable member of this team he is.
The way the Bears are lined up on special teams is to have 6 players up front to go after the punt returner. It is our job to finish what Brad starts, by making sure there is no progress down field by the opponent once they have the catch. I think we were very effective in stopping the Ravens, who had the AFC's leading punt returner. That helped hold Baltimore to two field goals.
So that's it from Soldier Field. It was an enjoyable game, a great game for me personally. I hope I created momentum that I can build on during the upcoming weeks. Winning is great and a good performance is incredibly satisfying.
Brendon Ayanbadejo has agreed to share his observations of life in the National Football League with Bear Report readers. Brendon will be checking in via the website on a weekly basis.