By Dom Bonvissuto
January 16, 2011

Grading out the performances from Chicago's 35-24 win over Seattle in an NFC divisional playoff game at Soldier Field:

Quarterback: Matt Hasselbeck's pedestrian day -- until late in the fourth quarter -- was the result of the Bears' suffocating defense rather than the Seattle QB's poor play. Seahawks receivers dropped a few balls early, when the snow was really coming down, and Hasselbeck often found himself forcing throws into tight coverage. Hasselbeck tried to get through it -- cameras often showed him demonstratively addressing teammates -- but he was fighting a losing battle. Grade: C

Running Backs: Put away the Richter scales, Seattle. Marshawn Lynch's first positive run of the day didn't come until three minutes left in the first half. Lynch and Justin Forsett nearly had more carries than yards on a day dominated by the Bears defense. Grade: F

Receivers: When the Seahawks receivers weren't getting pushed around by the more physical Bears DBs, they were taking turns dropping passes. Brandon Stokely, Ben Obomanu and Brandon Morrah all got in on the act to seal Seattle's fate. Those garbage-time passing stats aren't fooling anybody. Grade: F

Offensive Line: Rookie Russell Okung had his hands full with Julius Peppers all game, a holding call nullifying a first down in the second quarter being the perfect microcosm. No room to run, plus a twice-sacked QB under duress most of the day equals ... Grade: F

Defensive Line: Can't pin the loss here. Chris Clemons, Raheem Brock and crew had a very solid afternoon with batted passes, forced fumbles and multiple sacks. Big plays aside, the Bears offensive line dominated in the ground game and that can't be ignored. Grade: C

Linebackers/Secondary: The middle of the field was wide open for the Bears receivers, and whether that's the fault of the Seahawks linebackers or defensive backs is for smarter football minds to determine. Either way, too often the Seahawks were left chasing down a play, instead of making one. On a particularly shameful note, recent first-round draft picks Aaron Curry and Earl Thomas were posterized on Jay Cutler's first touchdown run. Grade: F

Special Teams: Punter Jon Ryan and the coverage team were able to limit Devin Hester, save for one 32-yard return. Leon Washington's 62-yard kickoff return provided some spark, but Seattle was already down 28-0. Grade: C

Coaching: Pete Carroll seemed to lack the let-it-all-hang-out attitude he's been know for, the same one on display in the Seahawks' stunning win over the Saints last week. It seemed particularly un-Carroll-like when the Seahawks, down 7-0 and facing a 4th and 1 from the Chicago 40, chose to punt. The Seahawks found some offensive rhythm late when they ran a hurry-up offense, but by then the outcome had been determined. Grade: D

Quarterback: Jay Cutler's first pass was a 58-yard touchdown. Not a bad way to begin your first career playoff game, eh? Cutler had his typical boneheaded moments -- throwing a dropped INT in the red zone stands out -- but overall he played with poise and toughness, as witnessed on his two bruising touchdown runs. He also joined Otto Graham as the only QBs with two rushing and two passing TDs in a playoff game. It was a confidence-boosting performance heading into the NFC Championship Game against the Packers. Grade: A-

Running Backs: Big plays were rare, but Matt Forte and Chester Taylor did exactly what was asked of them -- wear down the defense with small chunks of yardage and keep the clock moving. Forte's juggling, 26-yard screen catch-and-run and Taylor's 1-yard touchdown were the highlights. Grade: B+

Receivers: Tight end Greg Olsen had all of 404 receiving yards in the regular season, so naturally he peeled off ¼ of that in the first half to become the game's surprise star. Olsen's 58-yard touchdown catch in the first series set the tone, and he followed it up with grabs of 33 and 22 yards. The rest of the Bears receiving corps had a collectively quiet day, but they weren't needed. Grade: A-

Offensive Line: Cutler was sacked three times, but at least two weren't the line's fault as Cutler simply hung onto the ball too long. The Bears consistently won the battle up front and seemed to have a lot of confidence running inside behind center Olin Kreutz and right guard Roberto Garza. Grade: B+

Defensive Line: The 'F' grades for most of the Seahawks offense was a direct result of the 'A' game the Bears defensive line brought Sunday. Tommie Harris racked up two sacks, Israel Idonije made it tough for the Seahawks running backs to find space and Peppers was a force outside. Grade: A

Linebackers: With the defensive line making surge after surge, Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs were freed up to make plays and they did, leading the team in tackles. Urlacher in particular made his presence felt in the Seahawks backfield, tackling both Forsett and Lynch for losses in the first half. Grade: A

Secondary: For our money, this position group had the best performance Sunday. Hasselbeck didn't throw a pass that wasn't challenged, tipped, defended or batted down by a Bear. Completed passes were met with immediate hits. While it was unfortunate to see Seahawks TE John Carlson get hurt early in the game and not return, it was a direct result of a clean, hard hit on the sidelines by Danieal Manning. Set the tone for the day. Grade: A+

Special Teams: The lapse that led to Leon Washington's 62-yard return in the second half was the lone black mark on a pretty ho-hum day for the Bears special teams. Credit Corey Graham for hustling downfield to down a punt at the 1-yard line to keep the Seahawks on their heels. Grade: B-

Coaching: Though we're still trying to figure out why the Bears ran the wildcat leading by 25 in the fourth quarter, overall it was a good game plan by Lovie Smith and company. With touchdowns on three of their first four possessions, the Bears started the game red-hot and showed no signs of rust that has been known to accumulate during bye weeks, a credit to the coaching staff. Grade: A-

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