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Columnist
Where were these guys all season?
By Barry Rozner | Daily Herald Columnist
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Published: 12/29/2009 12:45 AM

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The worst part wasn't all the jobs that might have been saved Monday night.

The worst part of the Bears' 36-30 upset of the Vikings in overtime Monday night at Soldier Field was seeing Bears players, who have failed to perform all year, jump around as though they had really accomplished something.

So go ahead and pump your first, Jay Cutler, like you won the Super Bowl.

Dance around Mark Anderson, like you've captured the NFC championship.

Point your finger, Anthony Adams, like you've clinched the NFC North Division title.

And scream, Danieal Manning, as though you've secured a wild-card berth.

You should be ashamed because you're 6-9 after defeating the Vikings, and you should be embarrassed that you've been invisible the last 10 games of an NFL season in which so much was expected of you.

"We can't live in the past," said head coach Lovie Smith. "The season has not gone the way we envisioned it. All we can do now is play the best we can with the opportunities we have left."

True, because all they did Monday was win a game when there was no longer any pressure.

What they did was show up when it no longer matters.

What they did was play like they were supposed to play two months ago.

What they did Monday was leave the fan base wondering where they've been most of the season.

And the added bonus is they might have ensured that the clowns in Lake Forest who captain this sinking ship will return next year to offer another year of misery on the lakefront.

"I think the game tonight made a statement about our football team, and where we can be as a football team," Smith said, refusing to suggest his players won to save his job. "It was no more than that.

"It's been a disappointing year, and I'm the head football coach. But it was good to see the team finish the way we did tonight."

Finish?

The Bears had a 17-point lead with 21:30 left to play and allowed the Vikings to claw all the way back and tie it at 30-30 with 16 seconds left in regulation, the defense powerless against Brett Favre and the Vikes.

Maybe the finish Smith meant was Cutler hitting Devin Aromashodu for 39 yards in OT to win it.

"You always appreciate winning," Cutler said. "But it's not gonna help us get in the playoffs."

At least Cutler's realistic, unlike Smith, who said, "When everyone's watching on national TV, you want to play your best. A lot of people haven't seen us play all year and all they see is our record."

Maybe Smith doesn't know the Bears had played four night games on national TV and lost them all before Monday's thriller.

In any case, this was a statement by the players for their head coach, he of the Bourbonnais Shangri-La, a training-camp country club that might turn into a real camp if Smith were gone.

If it happens, at least he'll go out firing. He went out of his way to praise Olin Kreutz as a leader of the team who has kept the players together and playing hard.

That's a direct and surprising shot at GM Jerry Angelo, who took to task Kreutz for praising Smith last week while blaming the front office for this mess.

From Smith it was a perfectly placed blast right at the GM, subtly filled with emotion and anger.

You just have to ask yourself, why did it take this long for that Smith, and these Bears, to show up?