As the research analyst for NFL Network's NFL RedZone, Elliot Harrison watched all 267 games in the 2010 season. We asked him to rank the 20 most memorable.
And that might have been the point of this contest: The Bears played like a "team." Where the O-line had been an abomination all season, the unit was getting its act together. The special teams came through, stopping the Jets on some fourth-down trickery and giving Devin Hester some lanes to explode through ... returning one punt 38 yards and a kickoff 40 yards. Both drives ended with Bears touchdowns.
Then there was the defense. Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez did play well, carving up the underbelly of the Cover-2, the deep middle, time and again. But when it came time for Lovie Smith's guys to make a play, they did. Especially safety Chris Harris, who iced the game with a bait-and-pick with 58 seconds left.
I kept annoying Kent Camera, our coordinating producer, on headset every five minutes.
"Kent, we gotta go back to Chicago."
"Kent, Jets are goin' for it on fourth down ... Sanchez is lined up with the punt team."
"Dude, Hester went off again."
That was the story of No. 12 on our list. In a sport of big plays, this was a game of big plays.
Same ol' situation
In 2009, Cutler manufactured 26 interceptions by trying to make too much out of nothing, forcing throws, and bad decision-making. At least he made up for it by throwing off his back foot.
Sanchez sneakily lined up with the punt team, taking the direct snap, but his pass was broken up by Chicago's Rashied Davis. Considering Davis is a wide receiver by trade, this was a big-time special teams play.
Play of the game
Harris' interception was savvy to the nth degree. The veteran safety hung inside just long enough for Sanchez to think Santonio Holmes was open on the near sideline. No dice. After Sanchez looked over the deep middle, Harris anticipated where Sanchez would go next.
As soon as the ball left Sanchez's hand, Harris had already started breaking toward the spot he thought the pass would go. Ball game.
Why is this game No. 12 of 2010?
Dude, a failed fourth-down conversion with your quarterback lined up as the personal protector to the punter, two big kick returns, a sweet deep ball to Johnny Knox, a pick-six ... this game killed it.
Not to mention, it was played in a foggy haze and was another great uniform matchup unlike, say, Ravens-Texans. Seeing the Bears in their navy unis and the Jets in their whites, along with the hazy conditions, reminded me of the "Fog Bowl" divisional playoff between Chicago and Philly back in 1988. Cool game.
Why not higher?
Quite frankly, this game could've been higher. But, we're getting down to the nitty-gritty on our list, the very best of the best. Former player and current NFL Network analyst Warren Sapp said, "Just be happy you're on the list" regarding the "Top 100 Players of 2011" last Sunday. Same deal, Bears fans.