Earlier this season, the Atlanta Falcons defeated the Bears in heartbreaking fashion. After Kyle Orton ran a perfect two-minute drill, the Falcons came back to win with 11 seconds left. It was enough for Bears' fans to hate Atlanta forever. However, Atlanta, all is forgiven. The Falcons, behind their rookie-of-the-year candidate quarterback Matt Ryan, won 24-17 over Minnesota, making it possible for the Bears to have a shot at winning the NFC North.
It was the kind of game where everything was going right for the Falcons. Jason Blalock fumbled in the end zone but recovered the ball, still scoring a touchdown for Atlanta. The Vikings made a run late in the game, scoring 10 points in the fourth quarter, but it was not enough. The day belonged to the Falcons, who went 4-12 last season but changed their fortunes with a new coach in Mike Smith and a new quarterback in Ryan. Though Chicago is happy for the Falcons, we appreciated the win for a slightly more selfish reason. Their win helped us.
The Bears can't rely completely on other teams to get them in door at the playoff party. They must win tomorrow night against Green Bay, and again next week and again at Houston, but you knew it was going to come down to this. The Vikings and the Bears have both had up and down seasons, even splitting their own match-ups. One week, they would seem invincible, with the Bears beating the Rams 27-3, and the Vikings taking out the Bears 34-14. Another week, they would lose badly, with the Bears losing 37-3 to the Packers and Minnesota losing today, when they really needed to win to knock the Bears' monkey off their back. They've both lost to the Titans, and beat the Lions twice. They even both have offenses that rely on running. They are too alike. With a win by the Bears' tomorrow, it will truly come down to the last minute.