|NFC champion Bears, NFC East champ Eagles look to turn seasons around|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 18 October 2007 10:47|
The Eagles had the look of a perennial NFC champion until injuries and the Terrell Owens soap opera doomed them to a six-win season in 2005 and a last-place finish in the East. They never played like the team that only a season earlier was on the brink of the city's first championship since 1983 until a three-point Super Bowl loss to New England.
This season seems to be the Bears' turn to take that post-Super Bowl plunge.
A quarterback switch, a banged-up defense, and that missing hunger to get back and experience the thrill of winning that often fuels Super Bowl champs has them off to a 2-4 start.
Not even Devin Hester can return every ball into the end zone - though he comes close.
Forget a return to the Super Bowl. That trip to Arizona is looking like a long shot in the Windy City. The Bears need to worry about putting together a winning streak to jump back into the playoff picture and make the postseason for the third straight season under Lovie Smith.
``We really need this game, so it's very desperate - more than desperate,'' said defensive tackle Tommie Harris. ``We're like at our lowest right now, so we need this game.''
The Bears hoped benching Super Bowl starter Rex Grossman for Brian Griese would give them a jolt. But the once-dominant defense is in shambles and Smith even questioned their heart after last week's demoralizing 34-31 loss to the Vikings. The Bears allowed 444 yards, including 224 by rookie running back Adrian Peterson.
``I don't know if it's do or die,'' Smith said. ``This is a game that we need to get in the worst way so we'll keep playing hard this week.''
They're not the only ones desperate for a victory. The Eagles, who recovered from their Super Bowl hangover to win the NFC East last season, are at the bottom of the division.
Having won five division championships in the past six years, the Eagles (2-3) sure aren't used to chasing teams.
No Eagle is doing stomach crunches in his driveway this year to cause off-field distractions. Instead, a few questionable coaching decisions, an offense having trouble scoring inside the 20, and injuries to key stars Brian Westbrook and Brian Dawkins have slowed down the Eagles.
They beat the Jets last week, but hardly looked impressive. That didn't stop McNabb from saying this week that the NFC East championship still goes through Philly, even with the Cowboys at 5-1 overall and the Eagles at 0-2 in the division.
``Nobody ever remembers September and October,'' McNabb said. ``They always remember November, December and January.''
That's certainly true in Philadelphia, where memories of fourth-and-26 and four straight appearances in the conference championship game under Reid are as fresh as last week's game. Winning this game would help revive thoughts for each team about playing deep into winter.
Reid, whose 24-year-old son, Garrett, was ordered back to jail Tuesday after missing a drug test, can empathize with how the Bears have struggled a year after winning the NFC.
``I think if you have obstacles in there, it's tough,'' he said. ``They've got some injuries. That's the part that's making it tough for them. We had other situations that made it a little tough for us. I guess history shows you that it's not an easy thing to do. When you're there doing it, you don't believe it.''
Call it complacency, call it sapped spirits, whatever, the Bears know now is the time to make a move in the standings.
``When you go from being 14-2 your mentality has to (be) 'I have to defend what I used to be.' When we weren't 14-2, you had to come in and prove yourself,'' Harris said. ``Now, a lot of guys are coming in here thinking that we're already proven and people are supposed to respect us, but they don't. So we have to change our mentality. We have to show people that we're still the Bears that can run fast, that can play hard.''