Back in October, the Seahawks traveled to Chicago without running back Shaun Alexander, and suffered a brutal defeat. Coach Mike Holmgren made sure the lessons learned that day were fresh in the team’s minds by making them watch film of the game last Wednesday.
Echoes of that crushing 37-6 loss followed the team all week, as they headed to Chicago the 9-point underdogs, but Seattle wasn’t going to go down as easy.
The Bears started the game with an 80-yard touchdown drive in the first quarter. Early in the second quarter, Matt Hasselbeck connected with Nate Burleson for a 16-yard touchdown, but one play later Chicago’s Rex Grossman connected with Bernard Berrian for a 68-yard touchdown.
Late in the half, Seattle’s Chuck Darby recovered a Grossman fumble in Chicago territory. The Seahawks got closer, and on 4th-and-1 Shaun Alexander broke through for a touchdown.
Once again, though, Chicago answered big by putting together a quick drive capped by a fourth-down Thomas Jones 7-yard touchdown run, and the Bears led at the half 21-14.
Seattle came back big in the second half, though. The Hawks got the ball first, and managed to get close enough for a 40-yard field goal by Josh Brown.
Seattle’s defense held the Bears next drive, then Hasselbeck came back again and connected with Shaun Alexander for a 13-yard touchdown to take the lead.
Chicago came very close to scoring at the top of the fourth quarter, but cornerback Pete Hunter picked off a pass intended for Muhsin Muhammad to keep Seattle’s lead. Then just as quickly, Hasselbeck came in and immediately gave Chicago the ball back as Ricky Manning picked off his first pass. The defense held, though and Seattle dodged another bullet.
The Bears managed to tie the game with a 41-yard field goal with 4½ minutes left in the game. Seattle got to Chicago’s 44-yard line, but turned the ball over on downs inside the two-minute warning. The defense held strong, though, and Chicago was forced to punt, giving the Hawks 1:46 to get within field goal range.
They couldn’t get the job done in regulation, but Seattle won the toss and got the ball back in overtime. They could only get to their own 48, and on 4th-and-2, Ryan Plackemeier punted the ball away.
On 3rd-and-10, Grossman connected with Rashied Davis for 30 yards and got the Bears within field-goal range, and four plays later, Robbie Gould kicked the game-winning 49-yard field goal.
Despite a good fight, Chicago won 27-24 and go on to host the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Championship game.
In what was supposed to be a huge rout, Seattle’s defense held strong in the second half to give the Hawks a chance. After Chicago had nearly doubled Seattle’s total yards in the first half, rushing for 83, passing for 178 and scoring 21 points, Seattle held the Bears to 37 yards rushing and 104 yards passing, and two field goals.
It was a hard-fought game and season, but in the end the Hawks fell just shy of the mark.