It was one of the strangest football games ever seen - or not seen.
The Chicago Bears beat the Philadelphia Eagles 20-12 in an NFC semifinal Saturday. But if you weren't in the game, you didn't see it.Fog rolled off Lake Michigan during the second quarter and suddenly Soldier Field looked like a war movie in Britain.
The public address announcer couldn't see what was happening, so an aide relayed the plays to the press box by walkie-talkie. The fans didn't have that luxury.
"This is the best game I've never seen," said Tom McKee, 32, who watched from the upper deck.
"I can't see. I don't think the officials can see the game well enough to call it," said Hal Ardell, 47. "The game should be played tomorrow. It's not fair to the teams or the fans. We're leaving early."
The NFL said the meteorological mess apparently didn't fog the players.
"The word we get from the field is, believe it or not, it's not that bad," NFL spokesman Joe Browne said during the third quarter.
Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka had a different view.
"They had the ball at one point, I couldn't see the quarterback from where I was," Ditka said. "At one point, you couldn't see more than 10 yards downfield. Fortunately, it seemed to be that way more often when they had the ball.
Most players said the fog limited their vision to between five and 15 yards.
"It took the deep pass out of the game, but we don't throw the long pass anyway," Bears wide receiver Dennis McKinnon said. "We nickel-and-dime them."
Referee Jim Tunney said the field was playable.
"At no time could I see less than 50 yards," he said. "I could see both goal posts."
Bears defensive coordinator Vince Tobin said the coaches had to call plays from the sidelines, instead of relying on coaches in the press box.
"They were no use the second half," Tobin said. "They couldn't see the field at all."
CBS had 15 cameras at the game. Only four, all at ground level, were usable after a 6 mph wind blew in the fog. Fans watching on television saw a surreal scene, an almost black-and-white landscape of faint football players moving through clouds. It looked like an old newsreel.
"As long as they're passing the football down there, they're seeing it. So let 'em play," CBS analyst Terry Bradshaw said. "But we can't see it up here."
"We couldn't see anything - absolutely nothing," play-by-play man Vern Lundquist said. "We had to look at the TV monitors just like everyone else."