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AP Story: Packers Overcome Slow Start To Stop Bears, 34-21


Mike McKenzie is a man of his word.

After getting burned early for a 61-yard score, McKenzie promised to make amends.

"He said on the sideline, 'Don't worry, I'll get it back for you guys," Packers teammate Na'il Diggs said.

McKenzie sure did, picking off two second-half passes and returning his second one 90 yards for a touchdown to spark Green Bay's 34-21 victory over the Chicago Bears on Sunday.

In the first quarter, Marty Booker blew past McKenzie and hauled in Kordell Stewart 's pass at the 20, then trotted untouched into the end zone for a 7-0 Bears lead.

"I was in shock about it," McKenzie said. "I'd never given up a play when the guy ran right by me like that. I told the guys, 'That was definitely my fault. I'm going to get it back."'

Did he ever.

"Mike has a short memory," Packers defensive coordinator Ed Donatell said. "And I love that to the dickens."

The Packers (7-6) were clinging to a 19-14 lead with just over nine minutes left when McKenzie stepped in front of receiver Dez White and picked off Stewart's pass at his 10-yard line and ran it all the way back.

"I was licking my chops. I was hoping it was a quick throw," said McKenzie, who broke just as Stewart released the ball.

"I thought my momentum would take me out of bounds, but I saw all that green grass ahead of me," McKenzie said after his second career two-pickoff performance and second career interception return for a touchdown.

Stewart hoped to deceive McKenzie.

"It just so happened he played it smart," Stewart said. "I tried to throw it outside. He broke on it pretty good."

Dick Jauron, whose fate as Chicago's coach might have been sealed with the defeat, figured it was a safe call: if the Bears didn't get the first down, they'd settle for a short field goal.

"You think at the worst you're going to be two down, then all of a sudden, the whole thing is turned around," he said. "It was a long day."

McKenzie's day could have been bigger had he not dropped another interception in the closing minutes.

No matter, Grady Jackson sacked Stewart at the 1 on fourth down on the next play, and Ahman Green ran it in to make it 34-14.

Green ran 30 times for 80 yards. He needed 92 to break Jim Taylor's 41-year-old single-season rushing record, the oldest team rushing mark in the NFL.

"So what? We won the game," Green said. "I don't care about no record. All I worry about is our record at the end of December. Records come and go. That's all I'm going to talk about that record."

After Green's TD, Jerry Azumah returned the ensuing kickoff for an 88-yard score, snapping Green Bay's streak of 34 unanswered points.

That was of little consolation to the Bears (5-8), who took a quick 14-0 lead, but turned the ball over five times and gained just 44 yards rushing.

McKenzie also picked off Stewart in the third quarter, and that led to Ryan Longwell's 35-yard field goal that gave Green Bay its first lead at 16-14. Longwell also was good from 24, 38, and 45 yards.

Brett Favre completed 22 of 33 passes for 210 yards and a touchdown. He improved to 20-4 against Chicago.

The Packers started slowly for the second straight week.

Three plays after Booker's TD, linebacker Lance Briggs picked off Favre's fluttering throwaway pass and returned it 45 yards for a score.

"I was just throwing it as hard as I could. If it got up to the 50th row, great," Favre said.

It didn't come close and suddenly the Packers were down 14-0.

"I might have been the only one in the stadium who wasn't worried," said Favre.

Longwell kicked two field goals and Favre threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to Javon Walker to pull the Packers to 14-13 at halftime.

Favre tied two records on the play: Dan Marino's NFL mark of 24 straight games with a touchdown pass against one opponent (Marino's victims were the New York Jets) and Cecil Isbell's team record of 22 consecutive games with a touchdown pass. Isbell set the mark in 1941-42.

When they were down two touchdowns, Favre was quiet.

"Any time you spot a team 14 points, it's tough to come back," Favre said. "I didn't feel a need to go over and say anything to the guys, though."

McKenzie had already done that.

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