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'KGB' deciphers Bears' strategy
In the former Soviet Union, the KGB was a spy outfit, a stealth organization. If infiltrating opposing offenses counts as espionage, then you might say that the Green Bay Packers' defensive end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila is deserving of his nickname KGB on more than initials alone.
Certainly, KGB's "Monday Night Football" performance was more mission accomplished than "Mission Impossible." On a night when the Packers manhandled the Bears, 34-21, at Memorial Stadium, KGB scored perhaps the flashiest touchdown.
The score was 24-14 Green Bay as the third quarter moved toward the mid-point. Gbaja-Biamila, who only the play before sacked Bears quarterback Jim Miller and forced a fumble that the Bears recovered, added to Miller's nightmares by intercepting a pass and running it back 72 yards for six points.
"All I saw was the ball come right to me," said Gbaja-Biamila, who was the beneficiary of a wobbly throw because teammate Joe Johnson belted Miller. "There was no one near me."
Gbaja-Biamila, whose family is of Nigerian heritage, is a finely chiseled 6-foot-4 and 255 pounds. He doesn't have the big belly characteristic of many linemen.
So when he tucked the pigskin under his arm and took off, his gait was more gazelle-like than lumbering. He was indeed all alone and he could watch himself on the big screen above the end zone.
"I just thought it was too good to be true," Gbaja-Biamila said. "I couldn't believe how quiet it was. I didn't want to do anything silly with the ball."
Earlier in the day, Gbaja-Biamila was watching television and flipped the dial to a show featuring touchdown runs by linemen. Many of the players who rarely score took the opportunity to showboat on the highlight reel. Never realizing his chance would come so soon, Gbaja-Biamila pledged never to do anything fancy.
Teammates were already teasing him because of all the attention he was getting.
"You make one little ol' play and you're the man," said defensive tackle Gilbert Brown.
Actually, the touchdown ramble was the gargantuan play. Gbaja-Biamila, who was coming back from a week off due to a rib injury and was nursing a sprained ankle, too, made a few other little plays as the Packers kept the pressure on Miller. They totaled three sacks and picked off three passes. Gbaja-Biamila had the big-time interception and added two sacks.
He nearly had a fumble recovery the play before his interception. Gbaja-Biamila put Miller down and the ball popped loose, creating a wild scramble.
"It was ugly in there," Gbaja-Biamila said. "People were fighting for the ball. I had my hands on it, but I didn't have a good grip."
Miller came up with it. At the time it seemed like a great escape for Chicago. But only seconds later Gbaja-Biamila got his steal. Although he was a high school tight end, Gbaja-Biamila said this was the first touchdown he has scored while playing defense.
"Maybe flag football, if that counts," he said.