Sunday, Jan. 16, 2011
By John Mullin
The quality of opponent in 8-10 Seattle will be questioned but the Bears put up 28 straight points with consistent execution in a game that needed momentum for them early. Playoffs are about great plays but first they are about avoiding mistakes, and the Bears made few of them in allowing their talent advantage to carry the game.
Jay Cutler began his NFL playoff resume with a 58-yard TD strike to Greg Olsen and supplemented it with a 6-yard TD run early in the second quarter. He finished with two TD passes, two TD runs, passing effectiveness to the tune of a 111.3 rating in his first postseason appearance and threw zero interceptions while completing 15 of 28 passes for 274 yards.
Running backs: A
Chester Taylors 1-yard TD run put the Bears up 14-0 in the first quarter. Matt Forte tossed an interception out of a wildcat formation, a curious play call in the game situation unless it was to give the Packers something to think about. But Forte rushed for 80 yards and caught three passes for 54 more. Taylor broke several strong runs to finish with 44 yards on 11 carries.
Greg Olsen burned the Seahawks for a TD on the Bears third play from scrimmage and set up the second TD with a 33-yard catch, finishing the first half with a career-best 113 yards. Johnny Knox led the Bears with four catches and tight end Kellen Davis added a TD on one of his two catches. Receivers struggled to get open at times but provided solid downfield blocking to add yards on runs by Cutler and the running backs.
Offensive line: A
The Seahawks sacked Cutler three times and were credited with four additional hits but the protection overall was outstanding, with the sacks resulting primarily from coverage by the Seattle secondary rather than breakdowns up front, which had been the problem in the teams first game. The Bears controlled the ball more than 37 minutes largely because the OL controlled the point of attack and minimized Seattle penetration.
Defensive line: B
Tommie Harris collected two sacks of Matt Hasselbeck and two tackles for loss, and Julius Peppers pressured Seattle LT Russell Okung into a pivotal first-quarter holding penalty. But no other defensive lineman had high-impact plays with any regularity. DT Anthony Adams provided some pressure up the middle but the defense overall let down in the fourth quarter, understandable given the way the offense was playing and Seattle wasnt, but the group was not at top playoff level.
Brian Urlacher was credited with a team-high seven tackles, all solos, and had one for a loss. Lance Briggs was second to Urlacher with six as the Bears filled gaps and stuffed the Seahawks with 34 total rushing yards on 12 carries, 13 of the yards coming on one end-around to Golden Tate.
Charles Tillman was strong in a one-on-one matchup vs. Mike Williams, with Williams catching just four of the 13 passes on which he was targeted and managing just 15 total yards on his catches. Chris Harris went out with a hip pointer and rookie Major Wright filled in with a pass breakup and two tackles. Nickel back D.J. Moore finished with five solo tackles and Tim Jennings broke up two passes.
Special teams: B
Brad Maynard dropped three of his five punts inside the Seahawks 20, helped by Corey Graham downing two punts inside the Seattle 5-yard line and recovered a Seahawks on-sides kick in the fourth quarter. But kickoff coverage allowed a 62-yard return by Leon Washington, who finished with a 28.6-yard average on five returns.
Adjustments were made to prevent Seattle from establishing any sort of rhythm early and aggressive play-calling produced big plays early to take the heart out of the Seahawks. The Bears were mentally prepared after their season-ender in Green Bay and what clearly was a well-focused bye week. Schemes were kept simple to have the Bears playing fast against an out-manned team and the Bears played under control without allowing Seattle big plays to recover momentum.
John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.