Harriet Beecher Stowe once said, “To be really great in little things, to be truly noble and heroic in the insipid details of everyday life, is a virtue so rare as to be worthy of canonization.”
Gary D’Amato at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel indirectly points to the difference between winners and losers in the NFL by writing a critique of the Packers loss to the Patriots:
“One glance at the box score from the Green Bay Packers-New England Patriots game confirms the adage about statistics being meaningless.
“Going strictly by the numbers, the Packers outplayed the Patriots.”
“So how in the world did the Packers lose, 31-27, at Gillette Stadium on Sunday night?
“The same way they lost their other five games this season: by failing to convert in critical short-yardage situations, by committing costly penalties and by making game-changing blunders on special teams.”
You could really sum it up in two sentences: The Patriots know how to win. The Packers don’t (yet).
Even as a Bears fan, I have to confess that I love the Packers and their aggressive style. The team has guts. But the Bears have been better this year because, like the Patriots, the Bears avoid many of these issues. Admittedly they haven’t done well in short yardage. But that aside, they don’t commit that many penalties, they don’t drop many balls, they usually win the turnover battle, and their special teams excel. Ask the Vikings how important that last one is.
There isn’t that much difference in talent between teams in the NFL. The margin between winning and losing is often discipline and doing the little things. Success in these small areas add up to victories on days when you don’t play well, sometimes against a better team.
I’m not exactly ready to canonize anyone. But in a week when the Bears clinched their division, it seems appropriate to give the Bears and their coaches, especially Lovie Smith, kudos for recognizing this and consistently getting the best out of their players in these areas. Along with their amazingly good health, this success is the major reason they are headed to the playoffs this year.