Shepkowski: How Much Does The 3rd Preseason Game Matter?
By Nick Shepkowski-
(CBS) Heading into last Friday’s Bears-Seahawks preseason game, you heard “this was the one that matters” from players, coaches and media members alike. Days later, it probably still pains most Chicago fans to look at the final box score that resulted in a 34-6 victory for the defending Super Bowl champions.
After the disaster on Friday night, it was easy for most to overreact. There were callers to this radio station claiming 7-9 would be a miracle, and former Bears linebacker Doug Buffone thought the Bears “looked all the part of a 6-10 team.” Again, it’s easy to get that reaction because it was as one-sided as a preseason game gets. But it’s important to look back and realize plenty of solid NFL teams had plenty of struggles in the “all-important” third preseason game.
Over the last 10 seasons (2004-2013), teams that wound up playing on conference championship Sunday went a combined 23-17 in Week 3 of the preseason — hardly impressive numbers for a game in which the starters typically play into the third quarter. Furthermore, teams that went on to win the Super Bowl have gone just 6-4 in Week 3 of the preseason over the last 10 years.
But anyone who watched more than a minute of Friday’s contest knows that it wasn’t just the loss but also the manner of the setback that sticks with Bears fans. Surely, no successful team has gotten their rear ends handed to them quite like that in the third preseason game, right?
Actually, yes they have.
Just last August, the New England Patriots went into Detroit for their third preseason game and were run out of the building 40-9. Somehow the Patriots overcame that defeat and wound up playing in the AFC Championship Game last season.
Two years prior, the Patriots were on the wrong side of another whooping, this one a 34-10 loss against those same Lions; they persevered and ended up representing the AFC in Super Bowl XLVI. That same week the 49ers were on the wrong side of a 30-7 game against the Houston Texans in the third preseason game.
Those same 49ers would later take the eventual Super Bowl champion Giants to overtime in the NFC Championship.
Oh, and those Giants still won a Super Bowl despite getting beat 17-3 by the Jets in Week 3 of that preseason.
Am I saying everything is sunshine and daisies at Halas Hall despite Friday’s thrashing?
There’s plenty to be worried about if you’re a Bears backer, ranging from a set of linebackers that hasn’t looked like it belongs in NFL uniforms to the rotating collection of seemingly incapable safeties. Couple in a running game that’s looked anemic and a collection of shortcomings on special teams, and a lesser win total than originally expected seems obvious.
There’s a lot of negative to focus on this preseason, especially from Friday night’s beat-down at the hand of the world champs.
But don’t let one preseason blowout sober your 2014 Bears excitement.
At least yet.