October 16, 2001

The Bears make history in NFL's week five

Until this weekend, historians and football fans held a fond memory deep in their breasts of the distant times when dinosaurs roamed the Earth and the Chicago Bears had a three-game winning streak. Well, reminisce no longer, because the Monsters of the Midway won their third straight game on Sunday for the first time since 1995. Damn, it's been a long time. For five years, the Bears defied the statistical rule that the chances of winning a game after two straight wins are the same as the chances of winning the week after a loss. Granted, the chances of the latter happening to them were always low, but the chances of the latter were even lower — exactly zero. Of course, since the Bears never won too many games in the first place, there were few chances for them to even try to win a game after actually winning two straight, so we'll never know whether they broke the laws of statistics. You don't understand what I'm saying? I have completely confused you? You say I'm a dumbass and don't know what I'm talking about? O.K. no more statistics. I was just joking anyway. I know as well as the next guy that the chances of flipping heads are higher after you've just flipped tails. But what I was really trying to indicate is that with those mid-90s Bears teams, everything bad was possible, even something statistically impossible.

As for the actual game, the Bears were even favored this time, because they were playing the Arizona Cardinals. As we know very well, the Cardinals suck because their defense consists of 20-year-old fifth-round picks, they have a bust first-rounder at running back (Thomas Jones), and their quarterback Jake Plummer throws interceptions early in the game so that it's more fun for him at the end, when his team usually trails by 20 but sometimes only by seven. This game was one of them latter cases. The Bears actually played like crap, especially in the second half when their offense gained less than 50 yards or thereabouts. But they were sitting on a 13-6 cushion going into the third quarter, and cornerback R.W. McQuarters' fumble return for a touchdown gave them all the points they needed to pull out the win, 20-13. With teams like the Bengals and Browns coming up on the schedule, Chicago could well be 5-2 after the next three weeks, if they keep forgetting that they are supposed to lose all of their games and draft some really good defensive end with the first pick in the draft next year.

In addition to the Bears making history, the NFL provided us with plenty more excitement this weekend. There were three overtime games, all at the same time. The 49ers beat the Falcons, but no one noticed. The Tennessee Titans blew a lead against Tampa Bay but still hung on to win their first (!) game of the season. Finally, the Patriots beat the Chargers without Drew Bledsoe, and suddenly everyone has forgotten about Doug Flutie and how cool he was.

There were overtime games, and then there were match-ups that actually included two good teams. The Raiders appear to have the Colts' number, as they beat them in Indy for the second straight year and Peyton Manning played like Ryan Leaf for the second straight game…well, sort of. Speaking of Ryan Leaf, he just signed with the Cowboys, who wouldn't sign him earlier because he had a bad wrist. Now that they've realized how bad their quarterback situation really is, they've apparently decided that a bad wrist, aversion to exercise, and general suckitude (qualities that come in abundance with Ryan Leaf) are still better than an injured Quincy Carter or a healthy…whoever their second string QB is. On Monday night, the Cowboys are pitted against the Redskins in a fight to the cellar. It's too bad that one of them actually has to win this game, which would be a first for either team this season.

But back to good games. I was stupid enough to bench Brett Favre this weekend just because he was playing some guys in purple who have been proclaimed as one of the best defenses to ever step on a football field. Well, guess what? Favre burned them for 337 yards and three TDs, and the Packers had the four longest touchdown drives against the vaunted Ravens this season. The Packers improved to 4-1, the only team in the division ahead of you-know-who. There is still one unbeaten team in the NFL, although they got close to losing that honor. The Rams barely beat the Giants 15-14, but it wasn't pleasant for them. Marshall Faulk, the league MVP last year, was injured and might miss a week or two, while super quarterback Kurt Warner was sacked six times and knocked down multiple others. “Too much Strahan. Way too much Strahan," he said after the game, after noticing that the Giants defensive end kept running by, through, and over some guy who the Rams attempted to play at right tackle. Maybe it's just me, but it seems to me that Michael Strahan is the best defensive end in football. When it comes to big games against great teams, he seems to step up his game and dominate even great players, like the Eagles' Jon Runyan last year. What else can I say? Oh, the Bengals won again, something I predicted wouldn't happen anymore this season. OK, so I predict they'll go 0-11 the rest of the way. The chances are on my side.