Locker Room Chat: Lovie Smith

It shouldn't have been this difficult, but the Bears accomplished a big goal on Sunday and will be the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs. The Bears blew a commanding lead to the Bucs but managed to escape with an overtime victory. Head coach Lovie Smith addressed the media in the Soldier Field locker room after Sunday's victory, and Bear Report was there to hear what he had to say.

Opening statement:
"Going into the football game, we talked to our team about finishing, and that was definitely the case with the group today. Last week, we gave the guys an extra day off coming off that Monday night game, [so] we had a little bit [left] in the tank towards the end of the game. But the crowd was outstanding. To get them to jump [for false starts]a few times at the end. We talk a lot about takeaways, and we were able to get that big one there at the end. We got into overtime and kept the ball on our side of the field, and were able to pull it off.

Offensively, I thought Rex had an outstanding game [and] got the ball to the receivers. How about Dez Clark? I think he had over 100 yards in the first half catching the football. He did a great job. We were able to run the football against a good defense, too.

Defensively, we had control of the game, but we let them have a couple big scoring drives there – the two big pass plays. We can't give that up. We haven't finished as well as I would like for the team to finish right now, but we will work on those things. Robbie [Gould] missed one early, but it was good to see him come back and get the big one there to win the game.

Return game wise, Devin Hester went through a lot this week. Everyone was patting him on the back and telling him he is great. You're going to have some games like that. Of course, he turned the ball over a couple of times but still kept running the ball and still did some good things for us.

That was a big win for us. Again, we earned it the hard way. It was good to get home-field advantage where teams have to come through Chicago in the playoffs. Injury wise, I don't have a lot to report as far as new injuries from the game. Hopefully we will get a few of our injured players back."

On the Tank Johnson situation:
"I don't have any new news to tell you. What we have been doing the last 24-48 hours is, of course, getting ready for the Tampa Bay game. Of course, I have talked to Tank briefly right now, but in upcoming days, we will get on that a little bit more. But there is nothing new to report right now. Is he still apart of our football team? Yes, he is."

On the speculation that Tank Johnson could be released:
"I think whenever you get into trouble and it's not the first time, there is concern on his part, but I haven't told Tank anything. When you lose your best friend, there is a grieving period that you go through. Again, what we have been doing the last day or so is trying to get ready for Tampa Bay, but no decisions have been made about that."

On how much input he has on personnel moves and discipline:
"I have a little bit of input on most of the things around here, and this would be one of those, too".

On not trying to win the game on the last regulation possession:
"We were backed up. I didn't see a lot of good things that could happen for us. I felt like we should take our chances, get into overtime, and either get the ball and have a chance to move it down. They had momentum there at the end of the football game. We wanted to take that away, and once we kicked the ball off, of course, we wanted to see the defense finish on a high note. We were able to gain momentum there."

On the Tank Johnson episode affecting the team's preparation:
"It's tough whenever you have things going on that could possibly take away from you getting prepared for a football game, but our guys are professionals, and we have to be able to do that. There are off-the-field things that always come up, but you have to put that aside when you have to get ready to play football, and I thought our guys did a good job of that."

On how much his starters will play the last two games:
"Good question. We want to win the next two football games. As far as how much we're going to play, it's not like we are going to shut down our team. We have a few things to correct going into the playoffs."

On playing without three defensive starters on Sunday:
"It factored in. Tommie Harris isn't coming back. Injuries happen always. We have good enough personnel to play better than we did at the end of the game. But when the defense had to come through at the end, they did. We plug players into our system."

On Rex Grossman's first career 300-yard passing game:
"Rex is a good football player. Of course he can throw the ball, so it's not like it was a total shock. It was good to see that he has put a couple good games together [and] getting his confidence back going into the playoffs".

JC

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