You could see the moment the game started to slip away from the Bears Sunday. After sustaining a balanced attack most of the way, ol' man Martz got trigger happy.
ESPNChicago quotes the Mad Scientist. "The last 12 plays were probably passes, I think, all passes."
By the final gun, the Bears had called 39 passes and 18 runs. When you become one-dimensional, you lose. You can't blame Martz, exactly. This is who he is. The architect of "The Greatest Show on Turf." The man who turned Jon Kitna into a 4,000-yard passer. To paraphrase Chris Rock, Mike Martz didn't go crazy; Mike Martz went Mike Martz.
We all get bored with a low-scoring affair. Hell, when I play Madden, I pass more often than a sweaty contestant on "The $25,000 Pyramid." But in the NFL, you have to maintain the threat of the run. Fail to do that and the defense can pin its ears back and steamroll you. That's what happened in Green Bay.
Playoff victories tend to line up with two important stats: time of possession and turnovers. When you throw, you reduce your time of possession and you open yourself up to more turnovers. Yes, passing is necessary. But you hold a lead with the run. If you choose not to run, you're just opening yourself up to a shootout. The Bears are good, but you don't want to get in a track meet with the quarterbacks and receivers lying in wait in the playoffs. Chicago isn't that kind of team.
Hopefully, Martz rid himself of Passing Fever on Sunday. When our first playoff game rolls around, we need someone who's going to keep the other defense off-balance. And that means changing things up with a run every now and then. Why not tear up slips of paper and put them in a hat? If we call plays that way, even our own coaching staff won't know what's coming next. It's the ultimate strategy to counteract our little mad scientist.
It's hard to find many games that end with 12 passes that aren't defeats.