Bears determined to avoid repeat of 08

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Bears determined to avoid repeat of 08

The Bears have been here before. They know they can blow it.

With a win in the final game of the 2008 season, the Bears could go to the playoffs. It was that simple; beat the 7-8 Texans in Houston and it didnt matter what anybody else did.

Houston had even lost the week before to the woeful (3-11) Oakland Raiders.

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The Bears went out to a 10-0 lead and then lost focus, the game, the playoffs and, years later, perhaps Lovie Smiths job if they do not at least win Sunday in Detroit.

We were in this position a few years back, Smith recalled. We looked at all the different scenarios and we forgot about the one that really mattered us winning the game.

The playoffs that year vanished when the Philadelphia Eagles crushed the Dallas Cowboys in the later game. That wont be an issue this time.

The broadcast of the Green Bay-Minnesota game is expected to be piped in over the radio on the Bears charter flight home. But if the Bears dont win first, there wont be any need for Wayne Larrivees account.

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That Houston loss still stings.

Shoot, too much looking over and looking to see what other teams were doing other than keeping the Texans out of the end zone, said linebacker Lance Briggs. That was another spoiler. They left that season with somewhat of a nice taste in their mouth and left us with a sour taste. Its all within our control.

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A Detroit loss would leave Schwartz 20 games under .500 (22-42) for his four seasons, only one (2011) with a winning record and playoff trip. And the Lions likely would not have reached the postseason had Jay Cutler not gone down with a broken thumb at a point where the Bears had moved past the Lions.

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A Bears win would leave Smith 18 games above .500 for his nine-year Chicago career (81-63), 10-6 for the 2012 season, and very likely returning in 2013 to at least coach out the final year of the contract extension he signed in 2011.

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Sometimes the passage of time makes things a little sweeter.
 
Josh Sitton had been selected to three Pro Bowls while a member of the Green Bay Packers. At the end of training camp last year, the Packers abruptly released Sitton.
 
On Monday, Sitton was named to his fourth Pro Bowl, replacing former Green Bay teammate T.J. Lang. At age 30, this Pro Bowl was special.
 
"It's a great honor, always a goal of mine every year," Sitton said via conference call. "It's an honor to me and to the guys I play with, the guys helping me along...
 
"I would say just the age thing, the older you get, the more you appreciate them. You can't play at a high level in this game so the whole age thing makes it even more special."

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]
 
When the Bears were forced to go into Week 1 of the 2015 season with a shuffled offensive line, the situation wasn't ideal; Pro Bowl guard Kyle Long moving to right tackle as a hurried fill when neither Charles Leno nor Jordan Mills were an answer.
 
The 2016 season also began with an unexpected and significant shuffle, but this time with one that immediately bumped up the quality of the line. GM Ryan Pace moved quickly to sign Sitton after his release by the Green Bay Packers, a step that bumped rookie Cody Whitehair from guard to center, where he earned All-Rookie honors from the Pro Football Writers Association of America.
 
"It was challenging for sure," Sitton said. "It was something I haven't had to do for quite some time but it was stimulating being thrown in and needing to learn the offense in four or five days."
 
Sitton, who signed a three-year contract worth as much as $21 million with $10 million guaranteed, joins rookie running back Jordan Howard as the two Bears scheduled to play in the Pro Bowl. He started 12 of 13 games in 2016, missing time with an ankle injury but being a strong presence in a line that ranked No. 8 in sack percentage while getting Howard to a franchise-record 1,313 rushing yards even with a rookie center and a group that never played a game together before Week 1 in Houston against the Texans.
 
"I think we can only get better, now that we'll have an offseason together," Sitton said. "We'll see what we can do."