Sunday, December 27, 2020

Back To The Past

 BY SCOTT MORGANROTH 

When I was covering the Detroit Lions back in the 1980’s and 1990’s, one of my favorite  rivalries was when they faced the Chicago Bears.

Whether it was at home or on the road, it was great seeing the history of this rivalry.

There were times when these two teams would clash in The Windy City during Christmas and I stayed at the Westin Hotel off Michigan Avenue. When they went to Chicago, I would go a couple days earlier to hang out at the bars, night clubs and see comedy clubs. The Christmas lights in Chicago were awesome.

When the Lions played Chicago at Soldier Field around Christmas, I would wear warm hiking boots, three pairs of socks, gloves and thermal underwear. When you’re standing on The Soldier Field Turf with the winds swirling off of Lake Michigan, it was brutal. 

Anytime I covered a game at Soldier Field was great because it was hard-nosed football outdoors.

I have to admit that I miss seeing the Bears having lived in Florida for 18 years. 

But on December 27, 2020, the Bears traveled to Jacksonville to face the Jaguars. Chicago comes to this area every eight years. The next time they’ll be here is 2028. 

By then, I’ll be collecting social security.

Going into the game, the Bears led the all-time series 4-3, although Jacksonville won the last meeting in 2016, 17-16.

There were no shortage of Bears fans in the stands. 

The Jacksonville fans were cheering for the Bears. There were chants, Let’s Go Bears. You could hear these chants for every sack and interception on Jaguars QB Mike Glennon as well as points scored. Glennon is a former Bear.

Jacksonville (1-13) was facing Chicago (7-7) and there were a three interesting storylines.

Former Jaguars wide receiver Allen Robinson faced his old squad for the first time and caught 10 passes for 103 yards.

When the New York Jets defeated the LA Rams on December, 20, 2020, 23-20, Jacksonville had the rights to the No.1 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. 

It seems likely they’ll take standout Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence.

What made this game more interesting is that on Saturday Night, The San Francisco 49’ers defeated the Arizona Cardinals 20-12 and now the Bears controlled their own destiny to get in the Playoffs.

Would this 49’ers gift propel the Bears to a win?

You bet. The Bears cruised to a 41-17 victory on a cool sunny day where there were no shortage of jackets. The temperature was 55 degrees at kickoff. 

My attire was a golf shirt, pair of slacks, one pair of socks and sneakers.

The Jaguars hung with the Bears trailing 13-10 at halftime.

After that, the wheels came off as Jacksonville was out scored 28-7 in the second half.

Bears QB Mitchell Trubisky led the way by going 24-35, 265 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for 10 yards and a touchdown.

Running back David Montgomery had 23 carries for 95 yards and a touchdown. TE Jimmy Graham had four receptions for 69 yards and two touchdowns.

During the post game media availability, Coach Doug Marrone and Glennon weren’t bothered by the cheering the Bears were getting since Chicago Fans travel well. This game gave Bears Fans an opportunity to travel during the holidays. 

Although the Jaguars lost this game, they did get some good news as the New York Jets (2-13) defeated the Cleveland Browns 23-16, this enabled Jacksonville to secure the top pick in 2021. 

Jacksonville (1-15) went on to lose to the Indianapolis Colts 28-14 in Week 17. 

The Jaguars fired Coach Doug Marrone the following day then weeks later hired former Florida Gators Coach Urban Meyer to be his successor.

The Bears (8-8) lost their final game at home to the Green Bay Packers 35-16, but managed to get in the playoffs with help by the LA Rams, who defeated the Arizona Cardinals 18-7. 

The announced crowd was 17,445 fans and I felt this game was being played at Soldier Field South. For me it was Back To The Past and during The Holiday Season.

Going to see the Bears vs Jags turned out to be the same 4.5 hour drive. The route from Detroit to Chicago  is the same time, but it was I-94 West. To go to Jacksonville, it was I-95 North.

There is nothing wrong with going Back To The Past especially when the memories are great! 

Indeed that was the case, two days before my 58th Birthday on December 29th.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at southfloridatribune@gmail.com. You can follow him on Twitter @TribuneSouth. 

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