Mike Ditka respects Lovie Smith's call

Updated: January 3, 2011, 12:35 PM ET
ESPNChicago.com

Mike Ditka praised Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith for playing his starters the entire way Sunday against the Green Bay Packers, but Ditka didn't agree that the Bears had nothing to gain.

The Bears were locked into the No. 2 seed in the NFC when the game began in Green Bay, but Smith played his starters the entire way in a 10-3 loss to the Packers.

Despite the risk of injury, Ditka thought Smith made the right move, and that's because the Bears had a chance to knock a dangerous Green Bay team out of the playoffs. The Packers are a wild-card entry and could face the Bears for the third time in the NFC Championship Game. Chicago beat Green Bay 20-17 in Week 3.

"I really respect Lovie for that, and I respect the Bears for really trying to win that football game," Ditka said on "Mike & Mike In The Morning" on ESPN Radio. "I knew it was going to be a tough game.

"I looked at this way, if I was coaching the Bears, I wouldn't want the Packers in it. That's all I can tell you. ... I just think it's a very good football team right now. They've come a long way defensively. They did some great innovative things in coming after [Bears quarterback Jay] Cutler by blitzing as much as I've seen anybody blitz. They did a good job pressuring. They played good football."

As far as sitting players to protect them for the playoffs, Ditka doesn't subscribe to that theory.

"You're probably talking to the wrong guy when you're talking about sitting players," Ditka said. "If you want to sit, then don't pick up your paycheck."

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