Ill Harbaugh Faces Young Cowboys : NFC playoffs: Chicago quarterback has flu. He leaves hospital to prepare for wild-card game against Dallas.

Share via
From Associated Press

Jim Harbaugh climbed out of a hospital bed Saturday and said he has no intention of allowing flu to keep him out of today’s playoff game between the Chicago Bears and the Dallas Cowboys.

Bear trainer Fred Cato sent Harbaugh to Lake Forest Hospital on Friday after the quarterback showed up for practice with a fever, dehydration and weariness from lack of sleep.

Harbaugh spent the night at the hospital and practiced with the team Saturday, but his strength remains questionable.


“Harbaugh says he’s fine and ready to play,” Bear spokesman Bryan Harlan said Saturday. “I don’t know if the illness will have any effect, but he says he’s fit to play.”

If Harbaugh needs help, backup quarterback Peter Tom Willis will replace him.

Dallas (11-5) won its final five regular-season games and is an extremely tough challenge for the Bears (11-5), who have lost two of their last five, including a 52-14 rout against San Francisco in their final game. Chicago linebacker Mike Singletary expects the Cowboys to be more formidable than were the 49ers.

“They are more balanced. They can run the ball. They can throw the ball very well. It’s going to be a tremendous challenge,” Singletary said.

But the Bears are hoping their playoff experience will give them the edge. They are making their seventh postseason appearance in the last eight years. Dallas hasn’t been to the playoffs since 1985.

“I think playoff experience can be an advantage. Just the experience of playing in big ballgames helps,” Dallas Coach Jimmy Johnson said. “But the quality of opposition should help us.”

In the last five games, Dallas beat Washington, Pittsburgh, New Orleans, Philadelphia and Atlanta.