Once the Atlanta Falcons fell to the Green Bay Packers on Jan. 15, the Chicago Bears’ task was simple: Take care of the Seattle Seahawks at home and then host the NFC Championship.

So, they wasted no time Jan. 16 sealing a second-round victory at snowy Soldier Field.

Chicago jumped to a 28-3 lead over Seattle and held on for a 35-24 win to move into next week’s NFC title game with the Packers.

After surprising the New Orleans Saints last week, Seattle couldn’t muster any magic against the Monsters of the Midway. Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler opened the game with a 58-yard bomb to tight end Greg Olsen to get the Bears on the scoreboard first, and then ran for two more scores before finally throwing another touchdown to seal the game.

After piling up 41 points last week in their upset, Seattle’s offense couldn’t find the end zone with any regularity until the fourth quarter. The Seahawks ran for just 34 yards as a team and running back Marshawn Lynch, the star of last week’s victory, was held to just two yards on four carries.

Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselbeck’s final numbers will read like a solid day: 258 passing yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. But his performance and the rest of his offense was anything but that while the game was still in reach. When Hasslebeck wasn’t overthrowing receivers, his targets dropped balls and ran the wrong patterns.

Chicago and Green Bay will now continue the NFL’s longest running rivalry with the Bears leading the series 92-83-6. The two historic rivals will meet at Chicago’s Soldier Field Stadium on Sunday, Jan. 23 at 3:00 P.M in their first playoff meeting since 1941.

Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO