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Published:October 20th, 2009 19:20 EST
Musings on a Monday morning "Sunday night" NFL game

Musings on a Monday morning "Sunday night" NFL game

By Geoff Dean

 As in NFL fan living in Tokyo, I spend a lot of sleepless fall nights, not that I am so worried so much as the games tend to come on at 2 or 3 AM. One reason that I love Sunday night football is that I can watch it at a more reasonable hour of Monday morning.

 Taking advantage of that time lag and a Monday morning off, I got to see the Chicago Bears play the Atlanta Falcons and to enjoy the color commentary by two Japanese announcers who don`t completely understand "American football". I had more than a passing interest (that pun was flagged for intentional grounding) in the game since, although I am a dyed in the wool Colts fan, born and raised on the east side of Naptown (Indianapolis for the uninformed), I have a connection to both cities. The last two times I came back to Indy from Tokyo, I transferred at Chicago and Atlanta respectively. For some unexplained reason, there are no direct flights from Tokyo to Indianapolis. Since my transfer at O`Hare was more recent, I suppose I was pulling for the Bears.

 The game was close, fairly exciting, full of surprises, and convinced me that both of these teams were not of playoff caliber.

 The Bears, who ultimately lost 21-14, especially disappointed. They had three red zone disasters. On one particularly egregious offensive "goal line stand", Matt Forte leapt up the middle from the one yard line, only to be turned back at the goal line and fumble the ball. He managed to recover the ball, behind his back, no less, averting the disaster of turning over the ball at the opponent`s one-yard line. So on the next play, Forte runs again, and fumbles again. This time, the Falcons recover. Having dodged the bullet, the Bears jump right back in front of the next one.

 The Bears, despite a theoretically great running back in Matt Forte, a theoretically star quarterback in Jay Cutler and a theoretically world class tight end in Greg Olsen, looked, in the non-theoretical world, like not much to write home about. Still, seconds left in the game, with a fourth and one, knocking on the Falcons goal line, the Bears have a chance to tie the game. So, what do the Bears do? A false start penalty! It costs them five yards, ends the chance of a power run, leads to an incomplete pass, and the loss of the game.

 Worse still, the Bears` mighty coach, Lovey Smith, looked bemused as twelve men on the field penalties and other foolishness stacked up. How had the mighty fallen so low? (Ask the Titans)

 The Falcons, now 4-1 and in warm pursuit of the Saints, were, for my money, even more disappointing. They had ample opportunities, freely and warmly provided by the Bears, to rip the game open. And yet, somehow, with seconds left in the game, the Bears were still there. It said to me that a team that didn`t make all the mistakes that the Bears did and at all the critical junctures, would have taken care of the Falcons and easily. That does it. I`m writing both of them off.

 After all, the Colts had the week off so I had nothing better to do.