By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
Tom Brady has had success against the Chicago Bears like he has with every team in the NFL. But with the teams only squaring off once every four years, it’s hard to compile too many memorable plays from No. 12 against Chicago.
There’s one that stands far above the rest, and it wasn’t a pass. Brady’s famous juke against linebacker Brian Urlacher was such a stunning play that it’s still talked about now, even though it took place during a regular season game in Week 12 of the 2006 season. The Patriots won 17-13 and it didn’t affect their ability to make the AFC Championship Game, nor did it make a dent in the No. 1-seeded Bears.
But the play was just so shocking. It wasn’t against just any linebacker. This was the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, the anchor of a Bears defense that allowed just 15.9 points per game (third that year), and a first-team All-Pro. He just got enshrined as a Hall of Famer in Canton.
How did this lumbering redwood in the blue jersey pull this off?
This play came at a time where Patriots observers, both locally and nationally, and perhaps even a lot of fans, still weren’t sure what exactly Brady was. This was pre-16-0, pre-passing records, pre-Patriots lighting everyone up on offense. How much of the Patriots’ sudden success can be attributed to this game-managing quarterback? How does this guy win so much, despite not putting up Peyton Manning numbers?
The “Urlacher Juke” was one of the first plays post-2004 that clued the football world in: this guy is just a special player.
Twelve years later, there’s truly nobody like Brady. He’s at the top of the NFL mountain, with the top of the sports mountain in his sights (to any rational viewer, anyway). But despite being 41 and cemented as the greatest, he’s as motivated as ever to get better and win a whole bunch of games.
Against the 2018 edition of the Bears defense, he may need another juke or two. Brady was spotted working thoroughly on his footwork during Wednesday’s walkthrough, so clearly he’s preparing to have to dance around in the pocket. Even if he does come up with another surprisingly mobile play – kind of like his four-yard touchdown run just last Sunday against the Chiefs – Brady doesn’t think he’ll ever top what he did to poor Urlacher.
“Yeah, that was a good play,” said Brady on Friday. “You don’t see too many runs like that from me. Against a Hall of Famer. I’m lucky I didn’t get my head taken off. But that was pretty memorable. I was pretty jacked up after that. I thought Brian [Urlacher]’s a great player and I had a lot of respect for him, how he played. Yeah, going toward the lighthouse and it was third down and every once in a while, I kind of shake someone and I got him. Probably won’t ever happen again.”
Asked if he’ll brag about that to his grandkids, Brady added: “I’m going to be bragging to everyone about that for a long time.”
Brady and the Patriots offensive line certainly have their work cut out for them on Sunday at Soldier Field. It’s not just about 2017 All-Pro edge rusher Khalil Mack. There’s ex-Patriots defensive tackle Akiem Hicks, who has developed into one of the league’s better interior pass rushers. First round pick from 2016 Leonard Floyd mans the other edge. If Brady finds he needs to juke another inside linebacker, he’ll have to deal with 2018 first-rounder Roquan Smith and veteran thumper Danny Trevathan.
The quarterback may need to make yet another special play against this group, and it may have to be with his legs. It might not live up to the Urlacher juke, but it would certainly point to Brady’s continued drive to be a special player at such an advanced stage of his career.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.