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Marshall hungry to earn first playoff berth of career

Brandon Marshall is happy about being voted to his fourth Pro Bowl, but the Bears receiver's sole focus this week is getting to the playoffs for the first time in his seven-year NFL career.


Brandon Marshall has tallied 1,466 yards and 11 touchdowns on 113 receptions this season.

"It's always an honor to be voted in by your peers and coaches around the league," Marshall said. "Fortunately it's my fourth time, but unfortunately it's been my playoffs. The Pro Bowl's great, it's an honor, it's a ball, you have a blast out there. But I'm ready to get to the playoffs. That's more important."

While this season marks only the second time Marshall has played on a winning team since entering the NFL with the Broncos in 2006, he narrowly missed the playoffs three times in Denver.

When Marshall and Jay Cutler were rookies in 2006, the Broncos were knocked out of the playoffs on the final day of the regular season when they lost to the 49ers and the Chiefs beat the Jaguars. Denver and Kansas City both finished with 9-7 records, but the Chiefs earned the second and final wildcard in the AFC due to a better division mark.

In 2008, the Broncos led the Chargers atop the AFC West by three games with three games remaining. But Denver went 0-3 and San Diego went 3-0, routing the Broncos on the final day of the season to capture the division championship.

In 2009, the Broncos opened 6-0 before losing eight of their final 10 including their last four contests to finish 8-8, one game behind the Ravens for the second and final wildcard in the AFC.

Given those heartbreaking results, it's clear what making the playoffs would mean to Marshall.

"It may be like a Super Bowl berth-type reaction for me," he said. "Hopefully Sunday is a good day for us. We'll see. We've just got to control what we can control and that's beating Detroit. But it would mean the world to me to get to the postseason. I'm hungry for that."

The Bears will earn the second and final wildcard in the NFC Sunday with a win over the Lions in Detroit coupled with a Vikings loss to the Packers in Minnesota. The Bears-Lions game will kick off at noon (CT), while the Packers-Vikings contest will begin at 3:25 p.m.

Marshall, who expressed his disdain for the Packers a few weeks ago, evidently will be rooting more for Minnesota to lose than Green Bay to win.

"I'm not cheering for anybody but the Bears," Marshall said. "We put ourselves in this position and right now it could be a good position. You never know how things will work out. But all we can do is beat Detroit and sit back and have a cup of coffee and see what happens in that afternoon game."

All the Bears are concentrating on this week is beating the Lions. They've won eight of the last nine meetings with Detroit, including a 13-7 decision Oct. 22 at Soldier Field. The Bears defense fueled that victory by generating three takeaways and holding the Lions scoreless until :30 remaining.

Cutler and Marshall produced the Bears' only touchdown of that game with a seven-yard pass on their first possession. Cutler threw for only 150 yards, completing 16 of 31 passes while being sacked five times. But the Bears rushed for 171 yards and didn't commit any turnovers.

Asked by a reporter Wednesday what the Bears have to do differently Sunday after scoring only one touchdown in the first meeting, Marshall joked: "Score more than one touchdown."

"If we score more than one touchdown, we'll have a shot," he said. "We were watching film again today and we left a lot out there. We were in a bunch of third-and-longs, and we can't do that. As players we have to step up and put our team in a better position.

"I really like the game plan this week. The guys are excited about our opportunity and where we stand, and a game like this I expect us to come together and get it done."

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