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Good morning, frents!
And welcome to the first Bears Victory Monday in 77 days. I hope everyone had a nice holiday break and got a chance to start on some New Year's resolutions that Bill Belichick hasn't had a chance to write.
Bears 25, Seahawks 24
Bulls 113, Pacers 105
Bulls at Hawks (6:30, NBCSCH)
An unlikely Christmas memory
One last dub for the road?
Sunday's comeback in Seattle won't be enough to save Matt Nagy's job — no, not even with the McCaskeys — but it was sure a gift everyone else needed.
If the rest of the 2021 season was about hoping for the best and getting the worst, the surprise 25-24 road victory was the complete opposite.
All over Bears Nation, some of us begrudgingly tuned in to watch Nick Foles and the 4-10 Bears face a 5-9 Seahawks team.
Others of us instead opted to get our houses back in order or binge a television show and it's hard to blame anyone who went that route. I might have been in that group had there been no newsletter to write.
And yet something crazy happened on the way to the Bears' fourth straight loss: Foles rallied the Bears from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter and the defense stood tall when it mattered.
Down 24-17 on the Bears' final drive Foles found former Seahawk Jimmy Graham in the end zone on a 3rd-and-14 for a touchdown that cut the lead to one.
Then — with everyone at home calling for two — Nagy gambled and went for the conversion.
And despite a not-so-great play call that had the Seahawks defense all over Damiere Byrd, this happened:
If you've followed the Bears for any time, I don't need to tell you that the Bears usually don't make these types of plays. Each time I watch that loop, I expect the ground to jar the ball loose from Byrd's left hand or his right pinky to land out of bounds before his knee lands in.
But each time, it counts! If there's anything better than a successful 'f— it, what do we have to lose?" two-point try, I'm not sure I know about it.
"I knew I was in," Byrd said in his postgame news conference.
Bears fans of a certain age will remember when Dave Wannstedt went for two against the Packers in October 1997. Brett Favre had reeled off seven straight wins against the Bears and the 0-6 team was in the middle of a run that makes the Matt Nagy era look like the '80s in comparison. Interestingly, the score in that game was also 24-23 and a successful try would've put the Bears in the lead — though Favre would've been left with just under two minutes on the clock.
It didn't matter. Erik Kramer's swing pass to Raymont Harris failed, though Wanny got plenty of credit for taking a shot at beating the Packers.
Sunday's win may not make up for that 24-year-old memory that still irks me, nor does it do anything to salve this disaster of a season.
But it was a nice payoff for those Bears fans who dutifully tuned in during a lost season. It also helps drive down the value of the first-round pick the Bears are sending the Giants because of the Justin Fields trade. A loss to Seattle and the Giants next Sunday could've ensured a top 5 choice; it's instead now at 8 and could fall farther if the Bears win next week.
As for Nagy, George McCaskey again finds himself in a perfect spot to make a change. If they part ways today, Nagy goes out with a win (and somehow a winning record at 33-32). The Bears, meanwhile, get to take advantage of the new two-week window to interview candidates. That opens on Tuesday.
With only the Jaguars and Raiders so far committed to a coaching change this offseason, it'd be a nice edge for the Bears to claim.
Five quick thoughts
1. Raise your hand if you're glad the Seahawks didn't accept Ryan Pace's reported offer of multiple first-rounders for Russell Wilson.
2. No one's allowed to presume that Teven Jenkins is a future core piece or a drafting win for Ryan Pace until he can stay on the field.
3. Robert Quinn will never be a franchise legend on par with Richard Dent, but he will always be respected by Bears fans for his efforts this year. He has one more sack to break Dent's team record.
4. If we're getting into the Bears multiverse, I'd like to see an alternate timeline where Thomas Graham Jr. and Dazz Newsome get opportunities earlier in the season.
5. The next head coach will be tasked with unlocking Justin Fields' potential, but seeing how he gets total value out of the David Montgomery-Khalil Herbert tandem is worth watching, too.
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News and results
Bulls: Zach LaVine returns with 32 points against Pacers
LaVine hadn't played since December 11, but you couldn't tell during the Bulls' 113-105 win over Indiana on Sunday night. DeMar DeRozan added 24 and Nikola Vucevic posted a 16-15 night as the Bulls moved to 20-10.
- Though LaVine is back, the team's COVID struggles remain. Lonzo Ball was the team's biggest name who hadn't yet entered protocols, but that changed on Sunday afternoon. Ball joins Billy Donovan, Alfonzo McKinnie and Tony Bradley on the list.
- Next: The Bulls are scheduled to play Atlanta tonight, but the Hawks had 10 players placed in protocols on Sunday. Stay tuned.
Hawks: Tuesday's game postponed
Everyone holding tickets for the Blue Jackets game at the UC is out of luck. A release late Sunday night cited "covid-related" reasons for the postponement but no specific details. The NHL is also re-introducing taxi squads to try and help the league push through this latest COVID surge.
1. "No one's job should be safe after this one": The view from Seattle is the same as the one here. Field Gulls
2. Louis Riddick told Waddle & Silvy that he'd be interested in interviewing for the Bears' GM job if it comes open. Bleacher Nation
3. Tim Dierkes looks at the work the Sox have to do once the lockout ends. MLB Trade Rumors
4. A 10-item Christmas wish list for the Blackhawks. Second City Hockey
5. RIP to Rudy Malnati Jr., founder of the excellent Pizano's, caretaker of the Air and Water Show and friend to MLB umpires everywhere. Sun-Times
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