When we all went out there for warm-ups it was so bad it was difficult to stand. I watched the punters and kickers trying to get some practice in, but they never had a chance. Then once the game began, there was stuff flying all over the field. Paper wrappers, plates, even a Gatorade container cover went rolling by. You wanted to keep an eye out so you weren't hit by anything as it went past.
The first half was really frustrating. We felt as if we'd done a good job, or as good a job as we could given the conditions, but there wasn't anything on the board to show for our efforts. Then, as the half wound down, there was one final field goal attempt by the 49ers. You know what happened next. Nathan Vasher got the ball and went from our end zone all the way down the field for the score.
I've never seen a play like that in my entire life. It was incredible. That he was able to make those moves and get through to the goal line seemed almost impossible. I've watched the replay countless times since then and I still can't believe it.
Nathan's touchdown was the catalyst for us for the rest of that game. As he went into the end zone my first thought was ‘that's it, we've won the game'. It's hard to describe exactly, but it was just a sense that things would go our way for the remainder of the afternoon.
The mood in the locker room during half time was strange. It wasn't that we were jumping all over the place and shouting. That had already happened on the sidelines. More than that, it was a sense of complete disbelief. We all looked at each other and shook our heads. Who ever would have imagined a play like that?
I can't think of a better person for that to have happened to. That his jersey will now be in the Hall of Fame is fantastic. Nathan has played well all year but I never felt he had the recognition he deserved. Now if there is a single player within the NFL who doesn't respect and admire what he can do, I'd be surprised.
Do you realize how difficult it is to get through your opponent like that? It just doesn't happen at this level. Every player is too skilled for one person to stand out like that.
It reminded me of the Canadian Football League. There, about half of your roster is Canadian, because after all, it is the Canadian League. The other half of the roster is American. There's a huge disparity in ability between teams and among players in those teams, so breakout plays aren't that unusual. My first thought as Nathan went down the field was "I'm back in Canada". But no, this happened right here in the US. Well done, Nathan.
Things like that make me proud to be a member of the Chicago Bears. There is a spirit of never giving up on this team. What we get comes from hard work and grinding it out. I sense a lot of pride among the guys here. Nobody is on an ego trip, they are all contributing whatever is necessary to come out with a win. And week after week, that's worked.
Having grown up in Chicago, I am very aware of the history of this team. I knew about the Bears from the first moment I held a football in grade school. This is an important team with a rich history. There is a tradition that must be upheld. The Monsters of the Midway mentality hasn't been around for a while but I think that mindset is beginning to make a return to Soldier Field.
I've been asked to comment on the fight last week between Olin Kreutz and Fred Miller. All I can say is that it was a temporary thing and it has not had a disruptive effect on the team. Things like that happen now and then. You accept them for what they are, a temporary disagreement, then move on. To all of us, it's a dead issue. We are concentrating on the upcoming game and nobody is giving the fight a second thought at this point.
The locker room is unusually crowded today. It makes me smile to see so many members of the national media here following us right now. I guess the Bears-Panthers matchup is the game of the week. Where were you, guys earlier in the season? We've always been a good story. You just hadn't figured that out until now.
This weekend will be a tough hard fought contest. I like the fact that it's on our home turf. The crowd here gives us a huge advantage. I know that Carolina has some good players, but we do too. I think we're going into this confident but not overly confident.
Mentally we're ready to go. There's huge positive momentum going on right now and that is something we want to sustain and build on. Every game gets increasingly more important as the season goes on. Earlier on we were playing for pride, now we see a good possibility for a playoff spot.
I have some buddies coming in for the game. It should be wild. I'm really happy to have somebody to share this with. For those of you who can't make it to the stadium, watch us on television and give us your support. We're doing our best for the team and for the fans in Chicago.
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.