Hartman: Spaeth helps Bears get back to winning

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 25, 2012 - 11:35 PM

His TD against his hometown team helped Chicago end its two-game losing streak, at the Vikings' expense.

Chicago's Matt Spaeth, a former Gophers and St. Michael-Albertville star, celebrated his 13-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter.

Photo: Jeff Wheeler, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Matt Spaeth might have ended any chance the Vikings had of winning Sunday when, after a 14-play, 80-yard Bears touchdown drive and a subsequent interception by Chris Conte, the former Gophers tight end made a sensational 13-yard touchdown catch.

Spaeth's score -- his first touchdown catch of the year and the eighth of his six-year NFL career -- made it 25-3 and put the game away.

"It was just kind of a play-action naked-boot and [quarterback] Jay [Cutler] rolled out to his left and I was running for the corner of the end zone," Spaeth said on the phone after the game. [The Vikings] had it covered pretty good, but Jay just made a perfect throw."

What a difference a week made for the Bears, who last Monday night lost 32-7 to San Francisco, the same team the Vikings beat 24-13 earlier this year. Against the 49ers, Chicago let quarterback Jason Campbell get sacked six times and gained only 143 yards, while giving up 343.

Spaeth said he and his teammates couldn't understand how that could happen after they had won six games in a row before losing to Houston the week before -- and couldn't understand how they could then beat the Vikings so handily six days later.

"I wish I knew, we'd play that way every week," said Spaeth, who is from St. Michael. "We'd had a rough couple weeks, and we knew this was a big game for us. We knew we had to right the ship. We had extra incentive because it was a division game and a rival game. We just knew we had to win.

"We knew it was a big game for us and we couldn't play like last week, that's for sure. It is definitely big. It's always kind of extra incentive for me to play well because it's against the Vikings and it's where I grew up and went to school and all that stuff.

"It's tough to say must-win, but we knew it was a big game, a rival game, a division game, and we had lost the last two."

A porous Chicago offensive line had given up a total of 34 sacks this year, including the six last week. Spaeth was asked how the Bears limited what had been a pretty effective Vikings pass rush to one sack.

"We just paid a lot more attention to where Jared [Allen] was at and some different guys, and we did some things to help out our offensive line," he said. "We just did a lot of quick chip stuff to kind of just not allow them to rush off the edge. Nothing too big, but just giving that tackle a little bit of help makes a big difference."

Spaeth looks for a much tougher game with the Vikings at the Metrodome on Dec. 9.

"They're a team that plays a lot better at home and plays a lot better in that dome with all the crowd noise," he said. "Home-field advantage in the NFL is big, and it's going to be a tough game up there."

Kill back to work

Gophers football coach Jerry Kill, who suffered a seizure at halftime Saturday vs. Michigan State and stayed in the locker room the rest of the game, is expected to be back in his office Monday.

The word is that Kill spent the rest of Saturday and all day Sunday home resting, and barring any unforeseen trouble he will be back to his normal routine.

Kill didn't attend the team banquet that was held Sunday night.

Mbakwe in form

The Gophers men's basketball team wound up beating two good teams over the weekend in the Bahamas in Memphis and Stanford, while losing to No. 5 Duke. Coach Tubby Smith said one of the reasons for the success was that Trevor Mbakwe has started to reach the form he had before his serious knee injury took him out last year.

"He is getting stronger, his endurance and stamina," Smith said. "He had a heck of a game [against Stanford], and we needed that type of performance out of him on the boards. Good play all around."

Smith was impressed with the performance of his team against strong competition. The Battle 4 Atlantis was generally regarded as the best of all the preseason basketball tournaments this year.

"We know the capability of this team, and we just need to stay united and keep playing well," Smith said.

Smith ran out of superlatives when it came to describing Andre Hollins, who scored 41 points against his hometown Memphis team Friday.

"He's a solid player because he's got that ability," Smith said of Hollins. "He's a scoring point guard. He's really became a great leader for us. ...

"I think I've only had one other player that I've coached, Tayshaun Prince had 41 points in a game for [Kentucky] in the [2002] NCAA tournament against Tulsa. But I was very impressed with Andre and the way he's playing. When you put the ball in his hands usually good things are going to happen."

Saturday's game had an odd ending, as Stanford fouled Hollins at halfcourt with 0.4 seconds on the clock and the score tied.

"We were fortunate to get that call at the end, but certainly the guy almost wiped Andre Hollins out," Smith said. "I was glad he got the ball off in time. He was dribbling and he was looking over at the bench while he was dribbling and I was saying, 'Shoot it, man! Shoot it.' "

Smith said the Gophers expect a big test when they visit Florida State on Tuesday. The Seminoles won the ACC tournament last season. This season, they are 4-1 after opening with a home loss to South Alabama.

"They have so much talent and so much depth, they're starting 6-8 and 7 feet and they come off the bench with 7-3, 6-8, they're huge too," Smith said. "This tournament was one of the toughest tournaments I've ever coached in, and then we go to Florida State and Tallahassee, that's about as tough a run as you're going to see in college basketball that we're having right now."

Tough times

It's been a tough few months for two of the great athletes developed in this area, who not only played professionally but also served as coaches and general managers, in Lou Nanne and now Kevin McHale.

Nanne lost his son Michael to brain cancer in September, and Saturday, McHale lost his 23-year-old daughter, Sasha, to complications from lupus.

While Kevin and his wife, Lynn, were living in Houston, where Kevin was coaching the Rockets, Sasha was living here and became ill and had been confined to the University of Minnesota Hospital.

I've been acquainted with Kevin, Lynn and all the McHale children for a long, long time, and Sasha, who was an outstanding athlete on a state championship-winning Totino-Grace girls' basketball team, was something special. This is such a tough loss for one great family.

The many, many friends of the McHale family are surely saying prayers and sending their thoughts out to them.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on 830-AM at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. • shartman@startribune.com

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

NY Yankees - LP: B. McCarthy 3 FINAL
Toronto - WP: J. Happ 4
Philadelphia - LP: A. Burnett 5 FINAL
NY Mets - WP: D. Gee 6
Cincinnati - WP: J. Cueto 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh - LP: J. Hughes 2
Minnesota - LP: R. Nolasco 8 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: W. Chen 12
Boston - WP: C. Buchholz 3 FINAL
Tampa Bay - LP: A. Cobb 0
Detroit - LP: R. Porcello 2 FINAL
Chicago WSox - WP: J. Quintana 6
Texas - LP: N. Cotts 2 FINAL
Houston - WP: J. Veras 3
Chicago Cubs - LP: C. Villanueva 6 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: P. Neshek 9
Oakland - LP: S. Kazmir 1 FINAL
LA Angels - WP: M. Shoemaker 8
Milwaukee - LP: K. Lohse 5 FINAL
San Francisco - WP: M. Bumgarner 15
Los Angeles - WP: H. Ryu 7 FINAL
San Diego - LP: E. Stults 1
Washington - LP: T. Roark 3 FINAL
Seattle - WP: H. Iwakuma 5
Colorado - LP: J. De La Rosa 2 FINAL
Arizona - WP: C. Anderson 6
Miami - LP: N. Eovaldi 0 FINAL
Atlanta - WP: A. Wood 1
Cleveland 4 Suspended
Kansas City 2
Green Bay 9/4/14 7:30 PM
Seattle
Troy 10 FINAL
UAB 48
(7) UCLA 28 FINAL
Virginia 20
Western Mich 34 FINAL
Purdue 43
(5) Ohio State 34 FINAL
Navy 17
Appalachian St 14 FINAL
Michigan 52
Ga Southern 23 FINAL
NC State 24
Boston College 30 FINAL
Massachusetts 7
West Virginia 23 FINAL
(2) Alabama 33
Rice 17 FINAL
(17) Notre Dame 48
(10) South Dakota St 18 FINAL
(24) Missouri 38
Fla Atlantic 7 FINAL
(22) Nebraska 55
California 31 FINAL
Northwestern 24
Marshall 42 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 27
UC Davis 0 FINAL
(11) Stanford 45
Arkansas 21 FINAL
(6) Auburn 45
(16) Clemson 21 FINAL
(12) Georgia 45
Liberty 29 FINAL
(23) North Carolina 56
Ohio U 17 FINAL
Kent State 14
Louisiana Tech 16 FINAL
(4) Oklahoma 48
Stephen F Austin 16 FINAL
(20) Kansas State 55
Fresno State 13 FINAL
(15) USC 52
Southern Miss 0 FINAL
Miss State 49
Texas-El Paso 31 FINAL
New Mexico 24
North Texas 7 FINAL
Texas 38
(1) Florida State 37 FINAL
Oklahoma State 31
(14) Wisconsin 24 FINAL
(13) LSU 28
Idaho 0 Postponed
Florida 0
South Dakota 13 FINAL
(3) Oregon 62
(25) Washington 17 FINAL
Hawaii 16
Utah State 7 FINAL
Tennessee 38
SMU 0 FINAL
(10) Baylor 45
Miami-Florida 7:00 PM
Louisville
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Pittsburgh 9/5/14 6:00 PM
Boston College
Washington St 9/5/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
SMU 9/6/14 11:00 AM
North Texas
Fla Atlantic 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(2) Alabama
Buffalo 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Army
(24) Missouri 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Toledo
Arkansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
(8) McNeese State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(22) Nebraska
Central Mich 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Akron 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
Western Ill 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(14) Wisconsin
(20) Kansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
(4) Oklahoma 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tulsa
Western Ky 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
SC State 9/6/14 11:30 AM
(16) Clemson
Navy 9/6/14 12:00 PM
Temple
UAB 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Miss State
South Alabama 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Kent State
New Mexico St 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Colorado 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Fresno State 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Utah
(1) Eastern Wash 9/6/14 2:00 PM
(25) Washington
(15) USC 9/6/14 2:30 PM
(11) Stanford
Ohio U 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Middle Tennessee 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Minnesota
Northern Ill 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Missouri State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Ball State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Iowa
Maryland 9/6/14 2:30 PM
So Florida
Eastern Mich 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Florida
Georgia Tech 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Tulane
(18) Ole Miss 9/6/14 3:30 PM
Vanderbilt
Old Dominion 9/6/14 5:00 PM
NC State
(8) Michigan State 9/6/14 5:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(19) Arizona State 9/6/14 6:00 PM
New Mexico
Louisiana Tech 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
San Jose St 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(6) Auburn
East Carolina 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(9) So Carolina
Duke 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Troy
Idaho 9/6/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(17) Sam Houston St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(13) LSU
Michigan 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
Lamar 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(21) Texas A&M
Northwestern St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
BYU 9/6/14 6:30 PM
Texas
Citadel 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(1) Florida State
San Diego St 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Virginia Tech 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(5) Ohio State
Memphis 9/6/14 9:00 PM
(7) UCLA
Colorado State 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Boise State
Air Force 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Wyoming
Oregon State 9/6/14 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Texas Tech 9/6/14 10:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Red Bull New York 0 FINAL
D.C. 2
Los Angeles 3 FINAL
Chivas USA 0
Ottawa 10 FINAL
Montreal 20
Winnipeg 30 FINAL
Saskatchewan 35
Toronto 12:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 3:30 PM
Calgary
Phoenix 77 FINAL
Minnesota 82
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis Noon
Sep 14 - vs. New England Noon
Sep 21 - at New Orleans Noon
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pm
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pm
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit Noon
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo Noon
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How many fantasy football teams do you draft?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close