Before this season began, in the shadows of low expectations, no one could have foreseen an evening like Thanksgiving night at Lambeau Field.
No one could have imagined a thirteen point outing from the home team just a year removed from seemingly scoring thirteen points a minute.
A second half shutout? Pipe dream.
No one could have envisioned the visiting quarterback thoroughly outplaying the man often mentioned in the same breath as a four-time Super Bowl champion.
No one could have guessed a secondary comprised of journeymen and kids would deliver heroic moment after heroic moment, refusing to break under the pressure of knowing a touchdown beats them. They shed multiple blockers. They batted down sure thing completions. They redirected routes and blanketed receivers on crucial downs. They did…everything.
(For video of the final four plays, you can VIEW THEM HERE ON YOUTUBE. The NFL, in its infinite wisdom, has disable embedding of their YouTube clips. Because why would you want to make it easy for those who love your product to consume it. My hatred of everything happening on Park Avenue grows daily.)
And perhaps most shocking, most unpredictable of all, no one would have believed that as the football season leaves Thanksgiving behind it is the fans of the Chicago Bears and not the Green Bay Packers who see their franchise’s arrow pointed decidedly up.
And it isn’t just the fans. The Chicago sideline and locker room told the story.
Watch #Bears players pick up John Fox and celebrate win over #Packers (from Christian Jones’ Instagram) : https://t.co/u9lLwsqffZ
— Adam Jahns (@adamjahns) November 27, 2015
Watch — an even better video of the #Bears celebrating with coach John Fox (from Josh Bellamy’s Instagram): https://t.co/6Kq8z5Csi5 — Adam Jahns (@adamjahns) November 28, 2015
This was not just another game, not just another win.
Despite their being well-within the playoff conversation, those celebrations were not about 2015. The joy expressed inside the locker room was about validation. Of a program. Of a mentality. Of a belief in a right way to do things. On a national stage in front of one of the year’s largest television audiences, the John Fox Bears announced themselves to the NFL.
In doing so they provided fans with a signature moment for the season; a memory even losing their final five would not erode. From the shadows of low expectations has emerged meaningful football in December. All because of an evening in late November none of us will soon forget.