The whispers of a perfect season for the Chicago Bears are now hushed after a 31-13 loss to the Miami Dolphins last weekend.
On the positive side, the Bears (7-1), who travel to face the New York Giants (6-2) on Sunday, can now hope to duplicate another famous one-loss team from the franchise’s storied past: The 1985 Super Bowl champions.
“We have a 24-hour rule,” Bears defensive back Ricky Manning Jr. said. “We’ve got to forget about it and move on. We’ve got a big game this week and we’re excited about it. It’s a great challenge for us. I’m excited to go up to New York and have a good game.”
The loss to the Dolphins came two weeks after the Bears nearly fell to the Arizona Cardinals on “Monday Night Football.” Suddenly, a team that once looked invincible appears vulnerable.
Still, the Bears boast the NFL’s stingiest defense, giving up just 250 yards a game. Linebacker Brian Urlacher is banged-up with a toe injury but will not miss Sunday’s game.
The surging Giants will likely be Chicago’s most formidable opponent of the season. The Giants are on top of the NFC East, looking like a certifiable contender.
“I’m anxious to see exactly how our football team will respond,” Bears coach Lovie Smith said. “We get a chance to do it against a good opponent right away. After any loss, you go back to the practice field and that’s what we’ll do. We’re going to have a great week of practice this week, clean up a few things and hopefully get back on a winning streak.”
The Giants, though, aren’t talking like a team looking for the national spotlight.
“We did a good job all week of really concentrating on this team and not looking forward to the Bears game,” tight end Jeremy Shockey said after New York’s 14-10 win over the Texans last weekend. “So now, we have a challenge next week and that’s the only thing on my mind.”
Giants coach Tom Coughlin shook off questions about the Bears earlier this week and said, “Give me at least a day, will you?”
The Giants will enter the game without their most reliable pass rusher, defensive end Michael Strahan, who hurt his foot last weekend and will miss perhaps a month of action.
It will likely be the toughest challenge of New York quarterback Eli Manning’s three-year career. Chicago’s swarming defense will come after Manning, who is sometimes mistake-prone.