Sunday Night Football has been good to the Bears this season.
First, by giving the team enough of a mental edge to pull out an upset over the highly-favored Colts during the opening game of the year. Then, by helping the defense find the physical toughness that has been lacking recently as they got another unexpected 24-20 win in Week 4, this time over a strong Eagles squad.
Although the offense certainly did its part, particularly with a quick no-huddle series leading to a score during the opening minutes of the game, it was the dramatic goal-line stand against Donovan McNabb with less than four minutes to go that defined the victory.
"We had to do that, no question at all," said defensive tackle Anthony Adams. "It was one of those moments that you know will define your team for the rest of the year. We knew what we had to do, so we dug in and stopped them. There was no alternative."
The hunger of all 11 defensive Bears, as they hurled themselves between the Eagles offensive line and their own goal line, was palpable.
"There was no way on earth we were going to let this get away from us," Adams said. "Whatever it took, everybody was going to be there stopping that ball."
Which would seem to be somewhat different from the perceived lack of effort during the closing minutes against both the Carolina Panthers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, when both games seemed to slip away form the Bears at the end.
"We knew what people were saying about us," Adams said. "That we tired easily, that we couldn't finish, that we didn't have the desire. It certainly wasn't the case then, and it wasn't the case [Sunday]. We just executed better. Finally."
When asked if the national television exposure was a factor in the Bears intensity, Adams quickly agreed.
"Of course it was," he said. "For a professional, there's no bigger stage. Your family's watching, your friends are watching, the other players in this league are watching. Believe me, the last time you want to make a mistake is when you know that millions of people are watching your every move."
Adams himself has been difficult to find on the field recently, as Sunday night was his first time off the inactive list for the past three weeks. How hard was that?
"Really difficult," he said. "Incredibly hard. Disappointing and frustrating. I never figured out exactly what the problem was. I'd had good practices all week every week. I certainly had no physical problems. I was ready to each time, only to find out right before the start of the games that I wouldn't have that opportunity. That's tough to deal with."
As a man of strong faith, Adams decided to leave the decision to a higher power. "The Lord has a plan for me, that I know," he said. "Just remembering that allowed me to remain somewhat calm during this entire process. I felt that when He thought I was ready to play, then I'd be in there. And it finally happened, so I am at peace."
Adams hopes to be out there again Sunday against Detroit. He feels that even with no national exposure, the game can be won by the Bears.
"What I saw [Sunday] that I liked quite a bit was the fact that our offense and our defense balanced each other out," he said. "Kyle [Orton] got those early points on the board, which made much less of a pressure situation for us down the road. Then when our offense needed help, we were able to get some big defensive plays. That's what Lovie [Smith] had been stressing all week: working together, finishing out."
To Adams, 2-2 is a lot better than 1-3, but 3-2 would be even better.
"I think we're all on the same page now," he said, "and I think this game will prove to have been a dramatic turnaround for us. It demonstrated that we can get through with no letdown, that we could be in there for all 60 minutes."
As far as the night-game factor, there isn't another one until November 30 against the Vikings in Minnesota. Should Bears fans be concerned?"Don't worry about that," Adams laughed. "We're on a roll now. Day or night, it will be fine."
Beth Gorr has been covering the Chicago Bears for eight years and is the author of Bear Memories: The Chicago-Green Bay Rivalry. She is currently working on a second book about early Bears history.
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