Chicago Bears

What is the real 'standard' for a Super Bowl?


What is the real 'standard' for a Super Bowl?

Saturday, Dec. 4, 2010
Posted: 10:17 a.m.

By John Mullin

The standard being used to measure the 2010 Bears defense has been the 2006 unit because that group ostensibly got the Bears to the Super Bowl. That's not quite right.

The considerably better unit arguably was the '05 group, the one that got the Bears to the post-season despite a rookie quarterback (Kyle Orton) and held opponents to a total of 202 points, third best in franchise history behind only the '86 (187) and '85 (198) defenses.

The '06 team had the advantage (no, seriously -- "advantage") of Rex Grossman and an offense that put up the bulk of 427 points vs. the 260 of the '05 offense. Grossman may have come off the rails at times that season and certainly after that year but he had as many 100-passer ratings (seven) in 2006 as Peyton Manning.

The '06 Bears needed overtime and 282 Grossman passing yards to get past Seattle in the divisional round. The Seahawks netted more than 300 yards of offense, 108 of it on runs by Shaun Alexander.

Drew Brees passed for 354 yards in the NFC Championship game but he and the New Orleans Saints were buried under 196 Bears rushing yards.

Brian Urlacher, Adewale Ogunleye and Alex Brown all had more sacks in 2005 than 2006 and teams averaged just 3.7 per rush against the former vs. 4.0 against the Super Bowl group.

The Bears kept winning in 2006 despite losing Mike Brown to IR in midseason, Tommie Harris to a knee injury for the last four games and playoffs, and Tank Johnson for two late games to his behavioral issues.

The Greater Unknown

Defenses in fact may be easier to compare and be subject to more accurate comparisons than offenses. Defenses tend to have fewer extreme highs and lows; if you have a good defense, you are likely going to be close in a lot of games.

But offense is another issue entirely for the Bears.

Is the 2010 Bears offense as good as the 2006 offense?

The difference between the 2006 reaching a Super Bowl and the 2005 model exiting against wild-card team was obvious: the quarterback.

Grossman posted a passer rating of 73.9 compared to Orton's 59.7 for the 2005 season (identical with Grossman's for that year).

Whether the 2010 team reaches its Super Bowl will again depend on the quarterback, one with a disturbing career propensity for throwing interceptions. Grossman threw 20 vs. his 23 TD passes but managed to get himself sacked just 21 times.

Cutler has 16 TD passes to date compared with his 10 interceptions this year. More significantly, he has thrown for nine of the scores in the last four games but only three interceptions. His passer rating is up to 90.4, a level he has never reached for an entire season.

Even more notable, Cutler was sacked four times in the first half of the Philadelphia game, yet threw zero interceptions against the defense ranked No. 1 in takeaways.

That is Super Bowl stuff.

Bad blood
Longtime pal and Lions beat guy Tom Kowalski is not buying any of the niceties being spoken by Detroit quarterback Drew Stanton and "Killer" lays out exactly why there will be no more motivated player on the field Sunday than Stanton....

Actually there may be one other Lion looking to make a major statement as well. Left tackle Jeff Backus gave up the sack to Julius Peppers in the first half of the first game that resulted in the shoulder injury that took down quarterback Matthew Stafford and dramatically altered the course of the Detroit season, although Backus told the Detroit Free Press that he's not looking back at any of that. We'll see.

Interesting weekend senior NFL guy Alex Marvez takes a spin around the NFL with stops at each division in "a December to Remember." Alex posits that it wouldn't be surprising to see either the Bears or Packers fade in the stretch, because of their difficult remaining schedules, and that the NFC North race well could be decided before that Jan. 2 game between the two.

With the Bears at Detroit and Green Bay hosting San Francisco, it also wouldn't be surprising to see the NFC North frontrunner that loses to a seeming doormat this weekend be the one to go into the fade that Alex envisions.

John "Moon" Mullin is'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.

What you need to know from Bears-Steelers: Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen give Bears overtime win


What you need to know from Bears-Steelers: Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen give Bears overtime win

Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen are the Bears’ version of thunder and lightning.

The running back combo teamed to get the Bears down the field in overtime against the Pittsburgh Steelers, giving the team its first win of the 2017 campaign, a 23-17 victory at Soldier Field.

After a couple critical turnovers erased the Bears’ 10-point halftime lead, the game spun into overtime. Cohen dropped jaws with what at first appeared to be a 73-yard touchdown run to end the game. But officials ruled he stepped out bounds just inside the 40.

Enter Howard, who covered the remaining 37 yards with a pair of strong rushes, including the 19-yard scamper that got him into the end zone and gave the Bears the win.

Howard finished with a monster day: 138 yards and two touchdowns, enough to wipe away the memory of his second-half fumble that set up a Steelers touchdown. Cohen added another 78 yards to that as the Bears rushed for 220 yards as a team.

The success on the ground was enough to make Mike Glennon’s paltry passing statistics fairly meaningless. Glennon finished just 15-for-22 for 101 yards, a touchdown and an interception. His lone scoring toss went to Adam Shaheen, the rookie tight end’s first NFL catch.

In the end, it was an impressive effort from the Bears all around, who despite not playing good-looking football defeated a high-caliber Steelers team. Match that with the near-comeback against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 1, and the Bears have looked better than expected in their two games at Soldier Field.

What on Earth was Marcus Cooper thinking?

The most exciting and most unbelievable play of the game came as time ran out on the first half, when Marcus Cooper became the NFL goat of the day with an inexplicable fumble at the one-yard line.

Let’s rewind. The Steelers marched their way into the red zone in the final seconds of the second quarter and lined up for a field goal with just a few seconds left. Sherrick McManis, the Bears’ special-teams ace who recovered a muffed punt earlier in the game, blocked that kick, and Cooper picked it up. Cooper, one of the Bears’ starting cornerbacks, sprinted the ball back like 70 yards, appearing destined to cruise into the end zone. But instead of cruising into the end zone, Cooper incredibly stopped short of the goal line, allowing a Steelers player to chop the ball out of his hands.


To make matters even stranger, the Steelers for flagged for illegally batting the ball out of the end zone after the fumble at the one-yard line. That prolonged the first half, allowing the Bears to line up at the half-yard line and try for a touchdown. But Charles Leno was flagged for a false start, and the Bears had to settle for a field goal.

So what looked like a 14-10 halftime edge for the Bears then looked like a 21-7 halftime lead only to result in a 17-7 halftime lead. Bonkers.

Bears cornerback Marcus Cooper turned in maybe the worst gaffe in the NFL this season


Bears cornerback Marcus Cooper turned in maybe the worst gaffe in the NFL this season

Sherrick McManis blocked a field goal and Marcus Cooper picked the ball up with nothing but green grass ahead of him on his way to the end zone. 

Then, for some reason, Cooper eased up a few yards from the end zone. What happened next was straight out of a Leon Lett highlight reel: Vance McDonald hit Cooper from behind, leading to Cooper fumbling the ball and it being batted out of the end zone for a penalty. The Steelers went to the locker room, then had to come back out for an untimed down from the one-yard line. After Charles Leno was whistled for a false start, the Bears kicked a field goal.

So Cooper cost the Bears four points. But...why? What was he doing?