By Dan Bernstein
CBSChicago.com Senior Columnist
(CBS) — Josh McCown credited the unseen hand of divine power.
“God let us push the reset button,” the victorious QB told WBBM’s Zach Zaidman immediately after the Bears emerged with a bizarre, unforgettable 23-20 overtime win.
So I’ll picture a white-bearded deity in a recliner — Deus ex Barcalounger, per the proper Latin term — wearing a Zorich 97 jersey, watching the first four minutes of fumbled snaps and Chris Conte doing anything, and calling in the rain.
The fans clear out of the stands, the players head back to the lockers, and we watch overwhelmed local newscasts try to keep up in predictably hilarious fashion, wearing their serious frowny-faces and telling us not to go outside in a tornado, and to protect our heads, if necessary, with hardcover books.
- Hoge: McCown Keeping Playoff Hopes Alive
- Durkin’s Rapid Reaction: Resilient Bears Down Ravens
- Bears Beat Ravens 23-20 In OT After Long Delay
- Hoge’s Notes: Rookies Come Through On Defense
Thanks, Ed Curran. Were it not for my quickly-arranged combination of the Deerfield High School 1987 yearbook, Carl Hiaasen’s “Star Island,” The Complete Pelican Shakespeare anthology and plenty of duct tape, it’s possible I’d not be here to write this.
The winds were so bad in the fourth quarter that Soldier Field workmen had to stabilize the goalpost in the north end zone, finally checking the crossbar with a level.
Leveling did occur, to be sure. Mostly because of 50-mph wind gusts and a field texture resembling a giant pan of Betty Crocker brownies fresh out of the oven, the Bears’ defense became trustworthy. And here I thought the only way to make that happen was to have Seneca Wallace quarterbacking against it.
There was Julius Peppers with two sacks, David Bass with a pick-six, and Jon Bostic finally figuring out what those isolation-block lead plays were trying to do to him. And I TOLD you about Cheta Ozougwu. Actually no I didn’t, since I had no idea who he was until the sack/fumble thing and even now probably would not recognize him if even came to my front door in full uniform, handed me a media guide, and politely said “Hi. I’m Cheta Ozougwu. You know, that guy from the sack/fumble thing today.”
Marc Trestman was so confident in his freak-storm-enabled defense that he chose to punt on fourth and one at the Ravens’ 44 up 20-17 with 4:45 to go, confident that they’d hold. Never a doubt, certainly, after bending all the way to the three before holding Baltimore to the tying field goal.
Then that unit held again in the overtime period after losing the coin-flip, forcing a Joe Flacco incompletion near midfield.
By taking fair advantage of swampy conditions and an unexpected break that let him keep coaching via an impromptu walk-through to correct mistakes, Trestman comes out on the better side of what could have been an ugly day for him.
Thirteen penalties for 111 yards won’t cut it. Special teams have turned from a decided strength into an undisciplined, break-even phase at best. And his proprietary offense opened the game looking glitchy and underprepared.
But they blocked in the run game, they protected McCown, they found a rejuvenated Peppers, and ultimately put their all-time-great placekicker in positions to score on a messed-up field. The continually resilient Bears won the game that was in front of them, even after going down ten points and then sitting for two hours.
The NFL got lucky, allowing this one to even kick off. They had the same Doppler radar pictures we had, and the liability concerns were seen when the upper-level fans were slow to get to cover due to concourse congestion. It could have been bad, on a much larger and more significant level than a game’s outcome. But it ended up favoring the home team.
This decimated Bears outfit of backups and nobodies and a rookie head coach is tied for first place in the NFC North.
Even with the “reset button,” the scoreboard didn’t change until they changed it.
Dan Bernstein joined the station as a reporter/anchor in 1995, and has been the co-host of Boers and Bernstein since 1999. Read more of Bernstein’s columns, or follow him on Twitter: @dan_bernstein.
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