The Bears head to Philadelphia Sunday for a potential revenge game, but Khalil Mack doesn't see it that way.
Mack doesn't need to be reminded about the end of last season. Coming off a loss to the Chargers and sitting in last place in the NFC North, there's no need to reach back to last January for inspiration. The chance to move the team in the right direction after a 3-4 start is all the motivation the All-Pro linebacker needs.
"If you look at the situation in itself," said Mack, "you gotta understand that a win is going to be huge on Sunday. That's ultimately how you have to think about this game. it's going to be one of those games where you gotta get it by any means."
While acknowledging the stakes are high going into Philadelphia, Mack said that controlled passion and discipline would be the keys to returning to Chicago with a win.
"You can't really be emotional in the game of football," said Mack. "Yeah, you can't really react on emotion. There's a lot of different things that if you react it could possibly get you thrown out the game, depending on what it is. So you just gotta be smart and aware."
Opposing teams have started to adjust their offense to combat Mack. Since the last game in September, when his strip-sack on Kirk Cousins on the opening play of the second half proved to be a dagger against the Vikings, he has tallied only one sack, which came in the closing minutes of last week's game against the Chargers.
Mack is aware of the extra attention and doesn't see it as an excuse.
"It's something that I'm kinda used to, in a sense," said Mack. "It just depends on how aggressive they're going to be, early or late, later in the game. Just understand situational football and know what's going to happen. I've had situations where they can have movement and all those different things. So just learning as the season goes. But being ready for it is ultimately what I've been working on."
The Bears' struggle after the past month has been to keep the swagger the defense had when the season began. While the defense played its best game in a month against the Chargers, Mack didn't take the close loss as a moral victory.
"When you think about the game of football," said Mack, "you only have fun when you're winning. That's the whole point. We want to get back to having fun, and that starts with making plays and getting stops early and getting turnovers defensively."
Besides sacks, turnovers have been perhaps the most conspicuous absence during the Bears' three-game losing streak. In three wins this season, the Bears piled up four interceptions and four fumble recoveries, two of which were created by Mack himself.
In four losses, the Bears have had a single interception and two fumble recoveries, both against the Oakland Raiders, with one being the result of a miscue between quarterback Derek Carr and running back Josh Jacobs.
"I mean, you can say it's the luck of the bounce and all this different stuff," said Mack, "but ultimately, like I said before, it's something that we work on every day in practice, and you're gonna see it transpire in the game. It's gonna show up on film."