Bears Help NFC to Victory in Pro Bowl

It wasn't a thrilling way to end the 2005 season, but incase you missed it, the NFC beat the AFC 23-17 in the Pro Bowl. The three Bears that played in the game did their part to help the NFC even up the all-time series.

CB Nathan Vasher picked off Indianapolis Colts QB Peyton Manning in the first quarter when he tried to hit teammate WR Marvin Harrison, which stopped a possible scoring drive. Vasher returned the interception 30 yards and later added a tackle.

DT Tommie Harris was the only Bear to start the game. He finished with 1 tackle and a pass defensed. LB Lance Briggs led the trio with three stops.

The game was tied 10-10 at the half and 17-17 at the end of the third quarter. The NFC took the lead for good when Arizona Cardinals K Neil Rackers connected on a 22-yard field goal with 6:29 left. He added a 20-yard field goal with 1:09 on the clock to force the AFC to need a touchdown in the final minute to win the game.

NFC players earned $40,000 each for the victory, while the AFC players collected $20,000. NFC coach John Fox and members of his coaching staff earned $15,000 apiece; AFC coach Mike Shanahan and his staff received $10,000 each.

Help Wanted
The Bears will look to hire a secondary backs coach this week. It appeared the search was over when the team announced the hiring of Ron English on Feb. 7, but he backed out after the University of Michigan offered him the defensive coordinator position two days later.

"I came to the decision to accept the job Thursday morning," English told "I just felt like it was an outstanding opportunity. I felt like I could make a difference at Michigan. I felt like it was something that I've really worked toward throughout my career… to coordinate a defense. I just had a hard time turning it down."

There are some inside Halas Hall that feel English used his offer from the Bears as leverage to get a promotion with the Wolverines. However, English said that he intended to come to Chicago until Michigan coach Lloyd Carr put on a final push to keep him in Ann Arbor after then defensive coordinator Jim Herrmann left to take an assistant job in the NFL.

"My clothes were packed and my office was empty," English said. "I planned to go to Chicago. There's no question about that. People are always going to speculate, or what have you, but you can look at my career. I've been offered jobs by plenty of big time universities and I've always honored my commitments. If you look at my background, I don't try to leverage anybody. I try to do things the right way."

The Bears are considering three candidates for the opening. St. Louis Rams assistant secondary coach Gill Byrd interviewed for the job on Jan. 31. Washington secondary coach Steven Wilks is also being considered, while the Bears current assistant secondary coach Torrian Gray is a long shot to get the promotion.

Moving On
There are reports that the Buffalo Bills will name Bears assistant special teams coach Charlie Coiner their new tight ends coach. Dick Jauron first hired Coiner as the Bears offensive quality control coach in 2001. He held the role until Lovie Smith came on board in 2004. He then moved to assistant special teams coach. He was one of just two coaches to be holdovers when Smith became head coach.

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