Bye Comes Just in Time for Smith & Company

Bears head coach Lovie Smith knows that he will ultimately be judged on wins and losses, so although his team played about as poorly as possible on Monday night, they still managed to escape with a victory. Smith addressed the media at Halas Hall on Wednesday afternoon, and Bear Report was there to hear what he had to say.

The Bears were the toast of the town after an incredible 5-0 run to start the season, and although they managed to escape the desert with a 24-23 win over Arizona on Monday Night Football, many more questions now loom. Not only did quarterback Rex Grossman take a step back in his development with a head-scratching performance, the injury bug is starting to bite a little more.

The biggest health concern is Pro Bowl safety Mike Brown, who scored a touchdown on a fumble return but was unable to finish the game with yet another lower body injury.

"Mike Brown had surgery on a ligament in his left foot," Smith said. "As is the case with this type of injury, his situation is serious. We don't have any more information than that at this point, but we'll let you know as the situation develops."

Brown is an irreplaceable component of the Bears defense, with his vocal leadership just as important as his nose for the football.

"Mike Brown is a special player, there's no doubt about that," said Smith. "Some players are born leaders, and Mike is one of those. One of our other players is going to have to step into that leadership role while Mike is out. Brian Urlacher is one who comes to mind. Mike has been in this situation before. It was a play where he got bent over somehow. He was able to get off the field, then it became apparent that there was a more serious problem."

Urlacher has always been the kind of player who leads by example, but with Brown out of action indefinitely for now, he will be asked to do even more. Smith feels the 2005 Defensive Player of the Year is up to the task.

"Brian Urlacher had a spectacular game against Arizona," he said. "He showed the kind of performance that you just don't see in this league that often. He's been playing at a very high level all season and really brought it up against Arizona."

The Bears beat the Cardinals thanks to a mixed cocktail of opportunistic defense and rise-to-the-occasion special teams. An absolute meltdown by Arizona certainly helped. But regardless of how it all transpired on a wild Monday night, the game was exhausting for everyone in the organization.

"It was an emotional game for all of us," Smith said. "When your team is down, you need to reach within yourself and put in that effort. The players were able to do that. It's a way you find out about yourself, what you are capable of. Yes, I was very emotional afterwards. It's a night I'm not likely to forget."

A lot of NFL teams would have mailed it in after turning the ball over six times and trailing 23-3 in the second half, but Smith can take credit in the fact that his players refused to wave the white flag.

"That game illustrates the importance of playing all four quarters," he said. "You never know for sure how things will turn out until the game is over."

Fortunately for Smith and the 6-0 Bears, they will have an extra week to rest following their biggest challenge of the year. Moreover, an opportunity to get healthy again could not have come at a better time.


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