Play number 1: The
Bears lead 14--7 in the second quarter, and Seattle has third-and-seven from
its own 40. Urlacher is in the A gap, and the Bears have a blitz called.
Anticipating it, Hasselbeck checks off; running backs Shaun Alexander and Mack
Strong split, a tip-off that the Seahawks are going to throw and use at least
one of the backs to protect Hasselbeck. Urlacher, realizing that even with the
blitz the Bears will not have enough rushers to outnumber Seattle's blockers,
frantically changes the defensive call to Tampa Two, a variation of Cover Two
in which the middle linebacker is responsible for the deep zone between the
safeties. Urlacher then drops back and deflects a pass intended for wideout
Play number 2: Four
minutes later, still 14--7. Seattle has another third-and-seven at its 39.
Urlacher is sitting deep, figuring that Tampa Two is the best setup, until he
surveys the Seahawks' formation and determines they can block only six pass
rushers. So Urlacher audibles to a blitz in which he "mugs the center"
( Rivera's words), linebacker Lance Briggs rushes from the right side and
nickelback Ricky Manning steams in from the left. Manning, untouched, forces a
hot read, and the hurried throw is nearly intercepted by cornerback Charles
Tillman, who knew from Urlacher's signals that Hasselbeck would be passing
Two audibles. Two
stops. "We get off the field," says Urlacher. "Both times."
Still, the Colts
would love it if the Bears try to outguess Manning. "If you want to play
that game," says tight end Dallas Clark, "it's going to backfire on
Urlacher knows that
too. "Peyton has the upper hand," he says. "Ideally, we would just
change last, but it's harder for us to change. I have to lean over and shout at
the linemen, and Lance and [outside linebacker] Hunter [Hillenmeyer] have to do
the same thing. Then I have to get the DBs' attention and signal them. It takes
a while, and there's no way you can go back. I'll just check once at the most
and make sure we're all on the same page. Because if we've got guys running
different schemes and Peyton just snaps the ball--which he can do at any time
if he sees we're confused--that's when you get gashed."
Jeff Saturday says, "Every team tries to play that game with Peyton. In the
end it comes down to execution after I snap the ball. It always does."
The Bears and Colts
are similarly cohesive. "Take a look at these teams," says Kitna.
"They're not complex, but they're both exceptionally well coached, and even
in this era of free agency, they've played together a relatively long
Chicago plays the
best Tampa Two in the league, with the speedy Urlacher in pass coverage.
"The only way to beat Urlacher down the middle is to get him running and
throw the ball behind him," says Kitna. " Drew Brees threw one ball to
Marques Colston like that, and Colston made a great catch. But to me, that's a
one-in-10 play. With Urlacher out there, throwing down the middle is buyer
he'll be challenged on Sunday. "I haven't been tested in Cover Two all
year," says Urlacher. "But this is Peyton Manning. He's got to test me
down the middle. I'm expecting it."