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Though they kept it close, bad penalties and an inability to make big plays in the clutch prevented the Bears from a stunning upset of the Green Bay Packers in Lambeau last week.
Just when we thought that Jay Cutler had turned the corner, the Bears' signal-caller was again plagued by bad turnovers in the key moments of the second half . . .
The Packers did all that stuff?
Okay, ignore that last one. I'm writing this at work and accidentally shifted into inappropriate onomatopoeias out of habit.
[Editor's Note: I know I'm going to regret this instantly, but I'll ask anyway. What kind of day job do you have?]
I manage a team of people who assemble and QA two products that lean heavily on parts manufactured by Hitachi. The first is a cash and coin recycling system that my employer designed. It's predominantly deployed in large retail environments.
[Editor's Note: Um, that sounds shockingly professional. Who had to die so that a job like that would get handed to you?]
Oddly, it was the other way around. Someone dying nearly prevented me from getting this gig.
[Editor's Note: Bullshit.]
The truth beats anything I could make up, but that's a story for another time.
The product has a PC component and custom software that controls the cash and coin devices. I was originally brought in because of my combined background in Windows network administration and experience working for small custom software development firms.
And thanks for the presumption of competence.
[Editor's Note: Geez, I guess never really pictured you being employed - or having a job of any kind. Sorry about that. So what's the other product?]
Those Hitachi "back" massagers*, which are predominantly deployed to upper vaginal environments.
[Editor's Note: Theeeerrrrre it is.]
So yeah . . . fap, fap, fap.
My point is, while the most optimistic of us were expecting a better brand of football and a steady competitive effort, few truly anticipated a win.
Historically, this was the type of game where Cutler would try to do too much in critical moments.
We're talking your garden-variety fumbles after a scramble in the backfield that lasted five seconds too long with the ball waiving tantalizingly in front of opposing defensive ends.
Or your run-of-the-mill interception that comes as a direct result of staring down the first read from the moment the ball is snapped until it is clenched tightly against the body of an opposing cornerback.
I'm fairly certain that one of the audibles in the Marc Trestman offense was "Omaha, Marshall, Brandon, Two U, Two U!!!"
Cutler: "Don't forget about those super-inconvenient second-degree MCL strains during playoff games. Those are kinda my signature fuck-up."
You big softie.
Cutler: "Yeah, what was I thinking? (takes long, sarcastic drag from a Maverick). But on the plus side I made my back-up a bunch of money. I'm expecting big things from this Hanie kid . . . any day now."
Taking history out of the mix, the key difference in this contest was the avoidance of some unforgivable special teams mistake; a move so signature to this squad that its absence is an actual key to the game.
They also executed of a solid defensive game plan.
The team appreciated the design so much that they gave John Fox the game ball.
"Yeah, they gave me a sports object," Fox said post-game, sporting his usual non-committal attitude towards the press. "It was inflatable."
It wasn't too long ago when the powerhouse match-up of the Bears and 49ers was hot news.
[Editor's Note: the decade of the 1980s was a minimum of 26 years ago.]
Some of the rivalry's classic era highlights included:
- Following the offense's horrific performance in the 1984 NFC Championship game, Steve Fuller was immediately demoted from quarterback to playing the guy in the blazer who high-fives a woman at the end of a regional Electric Avenue spot.
- Avenging their loss in Candlestick Park in the prior season, the Bears trounced the 49ers at Soldier Field in Week Six of the historic 1985 season. Several San Francisco players felt Chicago was permitted an unfair advantage, asserting that members of The Shufflin' Crew** were allowed to bring their musical instruments onto the field. At the time, no official grievances were filed with the league, but archival footage shows Bears punter Maury Buford bludgeoning kick returner Dana McLemore with a cowbell on two separate plays.
- Following a drubbing at the hands of the 49ers, Mike Ditka was charged with assault for throwing his chewing gum at a heckler. The litigious fan would also later file class action sexual harassment charges against Joe Montana for his public, suggestive actions.
- The 1991 regular season ended with a thud as Steve Young's team once again emerged victorious in a lopsided 52-14 decision. Young added insult to injury by spending most of the fourth quarter talking loudly about his contract with the now defunct USFL. "You see this guys," said young indicating the bean bag chair filled with $100 bills he sat atop. "This is what it's like to have yourself a guaranteed deal. Hell, I've even got health insurance," he added while puffing on a cigar.
- In 2015 Blake Bortles throws for six touchdowns and rushes for two more in a career-saving performance that dashes the Bears' slim playoff hopes. Oh wait, that was just a terrible nightmare I had last night. Also, I bet that you know so little about the 49ers that you didn't realize that Bortles doesn't even play for San Francisco. You're not alone. I had to do a surprising amount of reading to figure out who was not only technically employed by this franchise, but is still playing actual football in the Bay Area these days. Answer: just Anquan Boldin.
Kool Aid (4 of 5 Cans Of Fistmas Holiday Ale)
While not all of us celebrate Christmas, I think we can all agree that the holiday season is primarily a time for being forced into awkward discussions with our family about how we somehow haven't shown adequate appreciation for them, or haven't lived up to their expectations, no matter how much more money we make a year than our brother.
And that calls for a drink!
Seriously, wake me up when it's 2016. I've been getting guilt trips since November 3rd, which for those of you who keeping track is a full six weeks before Jesus's made up birthday***.
So call me any time day or night and I will have a drink with you simply as an excuse to get away from this seasonal madness.
The 49ers are one of the NFL's worst this year, so you have to believe that the Bears have an excellent chance to take the "W" at home.
But remember that time, like, seven weeks ago when the Lions were the laughingstock of the league and the Bears found a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory coming off of a big win in Kansas City?
I'm not saying there will a repeat performance, but be aware that this team has the capacity to lose this type of match-up.
Frankly, that danger is what makes this game so compelling.
If the Bears win, they could jump up to 8th spot in the NFC.
Thanks to several tiebreakers, that's not as close as it sounds to the final playoff spot, but for a team that looked like it was going to trade every player possible for a late-round pick prior to Week Four, you gotta feel better off as a fan.
But if they lose, our worst fears about this team are confirmed.
The credible threat San Francisco brings to the table is essentially that every member of the 53-man roster will be angry that they play for the 49ers in 2015 and that they want to make everyone else as miserable as them. From a talent standpoint, I simply can't make an argument for them.
Even with this looming danger, I still the see a healthy Bears offense having their way and the peaking defense holding the nearly unemployable 49ers to a reasonable total.
Bears 23, 49ers 13
* If you've got a little time to kill, treat yourself to the "Customer Questions & Answers" section for this product on Amazon.com. For example: "Question: 'Is it quiet?' Answer: 'Not very quiet at all. Everyone in the house will have an idea what you're doing, unfortunately.'"
** This seems like as good a time as any to point out that the 49ers recorded multiple music videos in the 1980s, including one which was presumably filmed on a date that was so inconvenient for most of the team that Eric Wright and Keena Turner had to spend a minute of the song simply listing the 16 San Francisco starters who are not on set during the video.
*** Save your angry letters; the guy wasn't born on December 25th. You can take my word for it, but if you'd prefer not to I'd love to see the lunar calendar math it would require to prove me wrong.
About The Author
Carl Mohrbacher is . . . hey, you already got a partial resume in the first section. Stop reading and go check out the The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour.
Carl Mohrbacher is our man on the Kool-Aid. He welcomes your comments.