JC's Live Game Blog: Bears vs. Seahawks

It's been a long wait, sports fans, but the Bears finally start their playoff run on Sunday against the defending NFC champion Seahawks on a nasty day in downtown Chicago. Be sure to refresh this page every 10 to 15 minutes for all the goings on from Soldier Field. From the field to the sideline to the press box, JC will make you feel like you're there.

(10:12) Greetings, Bears fans. Your Monsters of the Midway ave waited two long weeks, but today is the day their start their march toward Super Bowl XLI. They face Seattle today at Soldier Field, and while Mike Holmgren's club are still the defending NFC champions, this is not the same team as a year ago. Neither Matt Hasselbeck nor Shaun Alexander have been themselves this season for myriad reasons, but they were still good enough to defeat Dallas in the wild card round last weekend. Needless to say, weather will be a factor on a cold, slick, and miserable day in downtown Chicago ...

(10:16) The field crew is pulling the tarp off the field right now because the players will be coming out for warmups very soon. It's not that wet right, but the weather forecast says it will be shortly. The new turf in the middle of the field is literally three shades of green lighter than the grass outside the numbers ...

(10:41) Are you ready for some football? I know I am after just having quiche for breakfast. The press box breakfast spread is usually your typical eggs-and-bacon affair, but this is the playoffs. Apparently, nothing says postseason pigskin quite like quiche. Personally, I think they're catering to the Seattle media too much ...

(10:46) Looks like all the media big-hitters made the trek to the Windy City for today's game. J.A. Adande of the Los Angeles Times and ESPN's Around the Horn just scarfed his breakfast like a madman, and Michael Wilbon of the Washington Post and ESPN's Pardon the Interruption is glad-handing the room like a politician. And just between you us, former Steelers quarterback and CBS 2 Chicago personality Mark Malone just doesn't look right with that earring ...

(11:16) Inactive today for the Bears are Kyle Orton, Justin Gage, Tyler Everett, Nick Turnbull, J.D. Runnels, Leon Joe, Anthony Oakley, and Antonio Garay. For Seattle, QB David Greene, WR D.J. Hackett, CB Marcus Trufant, CB Rich Gardner, FB David Kirtman, OT Ray Willis, WR Ben Obomanu, and DT Marcus Green will be sitting this one out. WR Darrell Jackson is active today and will give it a go despite a troublesome turf toe injury. Neither team is reporting any lineup changes. Seattle did eleveate CB Gerard Ross from the practice squad to the active roster or Friday, although the only reason I'm mentioning this is the fact that he's a Florida State guy like me ...

(11:22) Here is the latest from the weather department: 30 degrees, 93% humidity, winds out of the north at 13 mph, a wind chill of 11 degrees, and cloudy with a possibility of freezing rain or snow ...

(11:58) The starting defense gets the honor today of being introduced coming out of the tunnel. No way was the organization going to run the risk of hearing some Rex Grossman boobirds right before the cointoss. Not exactly breaking news there ...

(12:04) The Bears have won the toss and elected to receive. I can't see a thing right now. There's so much smoke on the field thanks to all the pregame fireworks ...

(12:06) No surprise there. Seattle kicker Josh Brown keeps the ball away from return man Devin Hester and manages to roll his kick in the end zone for a touchback. Bears ball at their own 20-yard line ...

(12:13) Touchdown Bears as Thomas Jones hits paydirt on a 9-yard run. The key play was a 37-yard strike from Grossman to Rashied Davis for a key third-down conversion. It was a juggling catch by Davis and another in a long line of clutch grabs he's made this season. Grossman wasn't especially sharp on the drive, but an 80-yard march to the end zone looks good any way you slice it. 7-0 Bears with 8:35 to go in the first quarter ...

(12:21) It should be 14-0 nothing right now. Charles Tillman had an interception go right through his hands that ended up caught by Darrell Jackson. Fortunately for the Bears, Jackson still comes up a yard short of the first down and forces the Seahawks to punt the ball away ...

(12:27) After taking over at their own 7-yard line, the Bears can only manage one first down before having to punt. Grossman took a hard lick right in the chops on a blitz from Jordan Babineaux. But he bounced right back up and appeared to be fine as he trotted back to the sidelines ...

(12:35) That's the end of the first quarter. Hasselbeck has the Seahawks on the march and will face a 3rd-and-4 from the Bears 16-yard line. Grossman has good numbers so far, 4-of-6 for 55 yards. Jones already has 11 carris for 38 yards and a score, although Cedric Benson will probably see the field the next time th Bears get the ball. Shaun Alexander hasn't been a factor yet - just four carries only nine yards ...

(12:38) That sure didn't take long. Hasselbeck fires a strike to Nate Burleson, who fights his way through some Bears tacklers and scores on the first play of the second quarter. Brown converts the extra point to tie the score 7-7. That potential Tillman INT is looming large right now ...

(12:41) Bang! Grossman finds Bernard Berrian on a deep post down the middle and a 68-yard touchdown strike. Gotta love the old one-play scoring drive. 14-7 Bears lead again with 14:36 to play in the second quarter ...

(12:47) The defense does its job and answers the score with a three-and-out. The crowd is starting to be a factor because someone just turned up the volume at Soldier Field. Hester makes a diving fair catch at the Bears 30-yard line ...

(12:52) The Bears can't do much with the ball this time and will have to punt it away again. Grossman looked a little gimpy as he headed back to the sideline. Brad Maynard manages just a 32-yard punt as Seattle gets it back at their own 24 ...

(12:57) Hasselbeck apparently found Jackson for a conversion on 3rd-and-7, but he juggled the ball and couldn't reel it in until he was out of bounds. Hester just about gave everyone in the stands a heart attack when he recovered his own fumble on the ensuing punt. Bears ball at their own 18 ...

(1:01) Mark Bradley is slow to get up after making his first catch of the day. Looks like he rolled his right ankle. Whatever it is, he's in pain right now near the sideline ...

(1:05) Grossman has cooled down considerably and can't convert again. Benson, however, looks very good in the early going. Injuries are starting to mount up because both Davis and Desmond Clark were limping on the sideline ...

(1:08) Maurice Morris has been in the backfield a lot the last few drives, so perhaps Alexander is banged-up, as well. Good gracious. Hester just fumbled another punt but was able to get this one back, too.

(1:10) Julian Peterson comes free on the blitz and forces a Grossman fumble on the sack. Seattle gets it back at the Chicago 26. Alexander appears to be fine and is back out there ...

(1:14) Touchdown Seahawks as Alexander punches it in from four yards out on 4th-and-1. He's just one of those backs that's always falling forward. Tie game again, 14-14 with 2:29 to play before halftime ...

(1:27) And just like the Alexander did the previous drive, Jones gets the ball on 4th-and-1 and finds the end zone for a 7-yard score. Big call by Lovie Smith to go for it there instead of settling for the chip-shot field goal. That was a very efficient drive that only took 1:41 off the game clock. Better yet, Seattle has just 48 second to play with before halftime. Bears lead again, 21-14 ...

(1:31) And that's the end of the first half, sports fans. The Bears will head to the locker room with a 7-point lead and a good deal of confidence. It was absolutely essential for this team to come out strong the first 30 minutes, and they did just that. Grossman has not been razor sharp, but he's hit 10 of 18 passes for 178 yards and the long score to Berrian. Jones and Benson have combined for 18 carries and 74 yards, and Jones has hit paydirt twice ...

(1:37) For the Seahawks, like Grossman, Hasselbeck has been good if not great. He's 9-of-16 for 92 yards and the TD to Burleson. Alexander only has 33 yards on the ground, but that fourth-down score was huge. Jackson has been the featured man in the passing attack despite his turf toe, reeling in four balls for 49 yards so far ...

(1:48) Bradley will not return today ...

(1:50) Brown boots a 40-yard three-pointer as the Seahawks march right down the field on their opening drive of the second half. Hasselbeck appears to be warming up, which is a bad sign for Bears fans. That was a 49-yard drive on nine plays that took 5:04. 21-17 Bears. This is no time for a three-and-out ...

(1:59) Grossman just refuses to step up in the pocket. He was sacked twice on that drive, and both of them could have been prevented if he simply had better footwork. Maynard punts the ball away, and then a 15-yard interference penalty on the Bears coverage unit gives Seattle great field position at their own 49 ...

(2:07) Seattle is hot right now, ladies and gentlemen. Alexander rips right through the middle and scores his second touchdown of the day, this time from 13 yards out. Brown splits the uprights and gives his team a 24-21 lead with 4:47 to play in the third quarter. 51 yards on seven plays in just 2:25. Soldier Field is awfully quiet right now ...

(2:18) Grossman responds with a very good-looking drive, but it stalls on 3rd-and-4 from the Seattle 12. However, the Bears catch a break as the Seahawks commit a 5-yard penalty and give the Bears a freebie first down and new life. That's the end of the third quarter, a third quarter the Bears lost 10-0. They'll head to the fourth and final period trailing 24-21. A touchdown here would be huge ...

(2:25) On 3rd-and-Goal from the 10-yard line, Grossman sees Muhammad open on a slant. But Muhammad bobbles it and as Pete Hunter comes down with the interception, and what a back-breaker that is. Yet just one play later, Ricky Manning Jr. picks off Hasselbeck and gives the Bears the ball again. What a strange back-and-forth that was. Bears take over at the Seattle 32

(2:31) Very curious decision by Lovie Smith right there. Instead of kicking a potential game-tying 49-yard field goal, he actually calls for Gould to pooch punt. No confidence in their All-Pro kicker to tie a playoff game in the fourth quarter? A delay-of-game penalty negates the pooch anyway, and Maynard eventually pins Seattle back to their own 7-yard line with a good angled punt ...

(2:36) Adewale Ogunleye comes up with a huge sack of Hasselbeck in third down, and the Bears force a three-and-out. Hester drops yet another punt, but believe it or not, he wiggles his way to the end zone for an apparent touchdown. Soldier Field is out of control right now, but a block-in-the-back penalty will bring it all back. Instead of taking the lead, Chicago gets the ball at their own 29 with 10:15 to play. Penalty or not, that guys is unbelievable ...

(2:45) Anybody who doesn't think Benson isn't going to be a stud in this league is out of their mind ...

(2:48) Man oh man, Lovie Smith is getting crazy conservative. Knocking on the door of the red zone, the Bears call an off-tackle run play on 3rd-and-10. That's putting an awful lot of pressure on Gould's shoulders. But he does convert a 41-yarder and ties the game 24-24. 4:24 left in the game as Seattle awaits the ensuing kickoff ...

(2:50) Burleson returns it 19 yards and gives the Seahawks good field position at their own 37 ...

(2:55) Seattle will be facing a 4th-and-1 from the Chicago 44-yard line after the two minute warning. Even the press box is tense right now. I can't imagine what these fans feel like out there in the cold ...

(2:58) And the Bears hold! Hasselbeck bobbled the snap, and then Lance Briggs blew up Alexander in the backfield. Grossman & Company take over at their own 46 with less than two minutes to play ...

(3:00) Exhale, Bears fans. Grossman has his third-down pass batted in the air by Rocky Bernard, and Jones has to come over the knock it down to prevent the interception. The Bears only took about 20 seconds off the game clock with that drive. Seattle takes over at their own 20 after the Maynard punt and has 1:38 left to win it. Hold on to your hats ...

(3:02) After a 13-yard gash by Alexander, the Seahawks take their first of three timeouts. 1:24 left. Ball at their own 33 ...

(3:04) Two more Alexander runs for a total of 12 yards. Timeout Seattle, their second. Ball on their own 45 with 54 seconds left ...

(3:08) Huge play by the much-maligned Tank Johnson. He sacks Hasselbeck for a 9-yard loss with two seconds left and eliminates the possibility of a game-winning field goal attempt. Hasselbeck throws incomplete on the last play of regulation, and we are headed to overtime, sports fans ...

(3:10) Seattle wins the toss and, of course, elects to receive. The Bears, however, will have the wind at their back on offense. Assuming they get to play offense ...

(3:16) Alexander starts the initial drive of overtime off with another good-looking run, but the Seahawks eventually stall just shy of midfield. Israel Idonije disrupted the punt attempt and forced an 18-yard shank. The Bears catch a break in the field position game and get it at their own 34 ...

(3:18) Davis again on third down. This time for 30 yards and a monster first down. Very close to Gould's range ...

(3:22) Bears win! Bears win! Bears win! Gould makes it from 49 yards out and gets the Monsters of the Midway to the NFC Championship Game. See you next Sunday right here at Soldier Field as the New Orleans Saints come marching in for the right to play in Super Bowl XLI.

JC


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