It's difficult to move on from a disappointing game like the one we had last week, but at this level, that's something you absolutely have to do. Our job so far this week has been to analyze the game film, then shift our concentration to the upcoming game against Minnesota.
I'd say that the last few minutes against the Falcons were pretty much as high and as low as you can go in terms of emotions. There was tremendous momentum when the offense moved the ball downfield to go ahead. Rashied Davis' catch in the end zone was tremendous.
But then in the last few seconds, everything turned around. We didn't end up the way we'd hoped to. To say that was disappointing would be an understatement. It was a very long trip back to Halas Hall that night. You allow yourself some time to feel bad and to think about what you could have done differently, then it's over. The next game is only a few days off, so there isn't the luxury of dwelling on things too long.
Minnesota has become one of the Bears major rivals in the league. I've heard from the veterans about the long-standing rivalry between the Packers and Chicago, but from what other players have been saying, I'm understanding that playing against Minnesota is right up there in terms of wanting to come out on top.
There's something special about a rivalry game that I've always enjoyed. It puts you on edge a little bit, makes everything that much more intense. You want to win every game, of course. But a game like this one, it would mean something extra I think.
I went to Vanderbilt, and our big rival was Tennessee. It was really fun playing that game. You knew that your fans were really behind you, and the emotions would get crazy. I expect the upcoming game to be similar to that, particularly since it will be played at Soldier Field.
The Vikings will bring a tough defense. Like the Falcons, they are fast and smart. You know that they will bring you down if you aren't paying close attention.
As usual, my focus in practice will be on the routes and the playbook in addition to studying film. I've been out there two games in a row, and I have to tell you that it's the best feeling. There's nothing better than playing in an NFL game. I find that the more opportunities I get to be out there on a Sunday, the harder I'm working in practice. I want to justify the coaches' faith in my abilities to get this done.
We aren't where we'd hoped to be at this point in the season. The good part is that there are a lot of teams bunched at the top, so it is fairly easy for somebody to pull ahead with a few wins. We still have the playoffs and the Super Bowl as our ultimate goal, and I see no reason why that can't happen.
I plan to take some time during next week, which is our bye week, to go back to Vanderbilt and take in a game. It's homecoming, so that will be appropriate. Vandy has done real well this year. They were 5-0 until they were upset recently, but a 5-1 record is pretty good.
I've been asked if I thought they'd be even better if I were still playing there. No, I don't think so. That team is about as good as they can get, and they certainly don't need me anymore.
What I've enjoyed since moving to the pros is keeping in touch with my former teammates and letting them know about what it's like in the NFL. I've told them to work hard and play to the best of their abilities if they have any thought of doing well in the draft. Whether or not they will actually take my advice is up to them, but it's certainly there if they want to make use of it.
It will be great to go back to campus, but in a way I feel removed from that. I have moved on, and I love what I'm doing now. The NFL tends to occupy most of my time and attention, and there isn't much chance to get nostalgic for college. But a fall college football weekend and the chance to see my teammates should be the perfect way to spend this time off.