Green Bay Packers running back Ryan Grant tries to break away from Chicago Bears safety Mike Brown. Grant ran for 145 yards and a touchdown in the two teams meeting in November.
Revenge is a powerful motivator.
And the Bears will have that going for them when they return to Halas Hall on Monday after a weekend off and resume preparation for next Monday night's visit from the Packers.
A national-TV audience is usually more than enough to stoke players for a Monday night game, but more than anything the Bears will be looking to avenge the 37-3 butt-kicking they took a month ago in Green Bay. Add to that the Bears' uphill struggle for a playoff berth, which has little margin for error, and you've got a ravenous team. The fact that the Packers provide the next hurdle should only increase the Bears' intensity.
How badly do the Bears want another shot at their biggest rival?
Badly enough that players and coaches started talking about it within minutes of Thursday night's overtime victory against the Saints.
"The early playoffs, that's what it is for us," defensive end Alex Brown after dispatching the Saints. "We get to move on. Next week's game against Green Bay, ahh, that's gonna be good. I ain't gonna start right now; I'll start later. We need this game."
And they want this game. The 34-point loss was the worst against the Packers in 14 years and the biggest blowout in coach Lovie Smith's five-year tenure.
"The last time we played the next opponent they embarrassed us at their place," Smith said, even before thawing out from Thursday night's game. "We're excited about getting a chance to play them again."
The defense not only was picked apart by Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, it allowed a season-worst 200 rushing yards, more than double its average yield.
"After what happened up there, that's in the back of our minds," defensive coordinator Bob Babich said, also minutes after the victory over the Saints. "We're excited about the opportunity that we're presented on Monday Night Football."
Although the Packers game will be the Bears' third straight at home, this time they won't have the advantage of facing a warm-weather opponent trying to adapt to a change in climate. But they do have the memory of their worst loss since Sept. 7, 2003, and three more days of rest than the Packers, who play at Jacksonville against the Jaguars today and could be eliminated from the playoff picture by the end of the day.
"The guys were stressed a little bit with the short turnaround for (the Saints) game," Smith said. "But now we have a chance to heal up."
And extra time to plot their revenge.
"We don't see it like it's an early look," Smith said when asked about the Packers game 13 hours after Thursday's game. "I started talking about it after the (Saints) game. They're our rival - you can start off with that. They embarrassed us the last time we played. They're a good football team, and they're next up on our schedule, and we need to get a win, so that's enough incentive right there to keep you motivated throughout this little break that we have."
The Bears still need outside help to get into the postseason party, but they're of the mindset that victories over the Packers and the Texans at Houston in the regular-season finale will be enough to get them in at 10-6.
"We have to think that," Smith said. "Most teams that get 10 wins get into the playoffs. That's the best we can do, so we're hoping that that's the case. Right now we're even thinking that 10 is a little bit farther down the list."
That's because the Packers come first.
"Nine wins is what we're really looking forward to," Smith said.