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Bears' road to NFC title game

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Dan Parr

dparr@pfwmedia.com
Associate editor

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Posted Jan. 20, 2011 @ 11 p.m. ET
By Dan Parr

As Chicago prepares to face longtime rival Green Bay with a trip to Super Bowl XLV on the line, PFW takes a look back at how the Bears ended up in the NFC championship game by looking at their week-by-week results.

Week One
Bears 19, Lions 14
A ruling by the officials late in the game at Soldier Field was one of the most controversial calls of the season. Lions WR Calvin Johnson' catch in the endzone with 25 seconds to play was ruled a touchdown and gave Detroit a one-point lead, but the call was overturned after being reviewed and the Bears held on for the win. RB Matt Forté gained 201 yards from scrimmage.

Week Two
Bears 27, Cowboys 20
The Bears made adjustments on offense after struggling early and won the turnover battle, 3-0, at Cowboys Stadium. Chicago was held to 38 yards on 19 carries, but QB Jay Cutler threw three touchdown passes and CB D.J. Moore intercepted QB Tony Romo twice.

Week Three
Bears 20, Packers 17
Poor special-teams play and a team-record 18 penalties hurt the Packers in their narrow loss. Green Bay had a 10-7 lead heading into the fourth quarter, but Devin Hester's 62-yard punt return for a TD put the Bears on top. The Packers took the lead again with 6:52 remaining. Bears PK Robbie Gould kicked two field goals in the final four minutes, including the game-clinching score with four seconds to play.

Week Four
Giants 17, Bears 3
The Bears' offensive-line issues were highlighted in their first loss of the season, as the Giants' swarming pass rush made 10 sacks. Cutler was sacked nine times in the first half before exiting the game a concussion, and Chicago produced only 110 yards.

Week Five
Bears 23, Panthers 6
Bears QB Todd Collins threw four interceptions and was benched late in his first start since the 2007 season. His horrendous performance was not enough to keep the team from cruising to a win over the hapless Panthers, who had quarterback issues of their own with rookie Jimmy Clausen. Forté rushed for 166 yards and two TDs.

Week Six
Seahawks 23, Bears 20
Cutler returned from his concussion, but he was sacked six times and hit four other times, and completed only 17-of-39 passes. The Bears scored first on a Forté TD run, but they never held the lead again. Chicago went 0-for-12 on third downs and allowed WR Mike Williams to rack up 10 catches for 123 yards.

Week Seven
Redskins 17, Bears 14
The Bears were unable to overcome Cutler's four interceptions and lost for the third time in four games. All of the picks were made by CB DeAngelo Hall, who returned the last one 92 yards for a TD, giving Washington the three-point lead it would keep the entire fourth quarter.

Week Nine
Bears 22, Bills 19
Fresh after a bye in Week Eight, the Bears bounced back from a two-game losing streak, beating the winless Bills in Toronto. Interceptions by CB Tim Jennings and S Chris Harris helped Chicago win the turnover battle, and Cutler threw two TD passes, including a two-yarder to WR Earl Bennett for what proved to be the game-winning score.

Week 10
Bears 27, Vikings 13
The Vikings were looking to get back into the NFC North race as they traveled to Soldier Field, but the Bears didn't allow them to. QB Brett Favre threw three interceptions and RB Adrian Peterson was held to 51 yards rushing. Cutler threw three TD passes and Hester had two long returns to go along with a 19-yard TD catch.

Week 11
Bears 16, Dolphins 0
Miami was down to third-string QB Tyler Thigpen, and the Bears' defense took advantage of their misfortune, holding the Dolphins to 187 yards and just one third-down conversion in this Thursday-night contest. Thigpen was sacked six times. It was Chicago's third win in 12 days.

Week 12
Bears 31, Eagles 26
The Bears had a chance to prove themselves against the NFC East leader, and Cutler rose to the occasion, matching a career-high by throwing four TD passes. Chicago emerged with a statement win and a full game lead over the Packers in its division.

Week 13
Bears 24, Lions 20
They trailed well into the fourth quarter before Cutler connected with TE Brandon Manumaleuna for a seven-yard TD, giving the Bears a lead they held the rest of the way. It was an off day for Chicago's defense, which struggled against third-stringer Drew Stanton.

Week 14
Patriots 36, Bears 7
It looked like a contender ran into a pretender at snowy Soldier Field as the AFC East-leading Patriots went into halftime with a 33-0 lead. WRs Wes Welker and Deion Branch each had more than 100 yards receiving as QB Tom Brady racked up 369 yards passing.

Week 15
Bears 40, Vikings 14
Chicago clinched the NFC North title at frigid TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis and Favre was knocked out of what was likely the final game of his career. Rookie DE Corey Wootton sacked Favre, who was already dealing with a shoulder injury, in the second quarter and the QB did not return.

Week 16
Bears 38, Jets 34
Head coach Lovie Smith's club took another step toward securing a first-round bye. The Bears blew a 10-point lead and allowed 21 unanswered points in the second quarter, but they recovered and won for the seventh time in eight games. Forté had a game-high 113 yards rushing on 19 carries and Cutler had three TD passes.

Week 17
Packers 10, Bears 3
Smith did not rest his starters, even though the Bears were already locked in as the No. 2 seed in the NFC, but the Packers were able to secure the win they needed to get into the playoffs. The game was tied 3-3 in the fourth quarter before QB Aaron Rodgers hit TE Donald Lee with a one-yard TD pass.

Divisional round
Bears 35, Seahawks 24
The Bears had a 28-0 lead before the Seahawks tightened the score with three fourth-quarter TDs. Cutler threw two TD passes and rushed for two other scores, and TE Greg Olsen had a career-high 113 receiving yards. Seattle punted on its first eight possessions and struggled to get anything going on offense until it was too late.

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