Game Review: Miscues Aplenty In First Loss

There’s no sugarcoating it. This one got away. In the end the Bears scored 17 unanswered points to pull out a 27-20 decision to hand the Packers (4-1) their first loss in 2007 and stun the 70,904 in attendance at Lambeau Field. - More Audio | Video | Packers-Bears Game Center


There's no sugarcoating it. This one got away.

The Packers had a chance to bury their NFC North rivals early on Sunday night, but two fumbles prevented it. Then when they were protecting a lead in the second half, two more turnovers helped the Bears erase a 10-point deficit.

Add in some penalties and a couple of key plays by Chicago, and in the end the Bears scored 17 unanswered points to pull out a 27-20 decision to hand the Packers (4-1) their first loss in 2007 and stun the 70,904 in attendance at Lambeau Field.

"Games you're supposed to win, you've got to win," cornerback Al Harris said. "I think we should have won this game. We were supposed to win this game."

Early on it looked like the Packers would. On the game's opening possession, DeShawn Wynn broke off runs of 12 and 44 yards to set up his own 2-yard TD run just 3:59 into the game.

But the offensive rhythm was interrupted by a couple of eerily similar miscues by rookie receiver James Jones. On back-to-back possessions, Jones had the ball stripped by Chicago cornerback Charles Tillman after catching slant passes, the first inside the Bears' 10-yard line and the second just after Green Bay had crossed midfield.

The chance to go ahead by 14 or even 17 points, and take complete control early, had been fumbled away.

"Mistakes happen," Jones said. "I'm not dwelling on it or nothing. We lost the game and we have to get better. That's all it is, that's all that matters."

As it turned out, the Packers still had a 10-point lead by halftime. The Bears tied the game at 7 in the second quarter on a Cedric Benson touchdown run, but Green Bay responded with a 41-yard touchdown pass from Brett Favre (29-of-40, 322 yards) to Greg Jennings, and a 37-yard Mason Crosby field goal to close the half with a 17-7 lead.

Both teams traded field goals to open the second half, making it 20-10, but two more turnovers turned the game around.

Favre's ill-advised throw on a scramble to his right was intercepted by Chicago middle linebacker Brian Urlacher at the Green Bay 19-yard line, and the Bears needed just one play to capitalize. Brian Griese (15-of-25, 214 yards) hit rookie tight end Greg Olsen for a touchdown to make it 20-17.

A few minutes later, Packers punt returner Charles Woodson had the ball stripped by Brendon Ayanbadejo at the end of a 25-yard return, and the Bears turned that into a field goal to tie the game at 20 early in the fourth quarter.

"We had the game where we wanted it, and we let it slip out of our hands," Woodson said. "If we want to be the type of team we want to be, offensively and defensively, when you have a team down you have to keep them down, and we didn't do that tonight."

The Bears, meanwhile, seized the momentum by stifling Green Bay's offense.

The Packers had discovered a productive running game for the first time all season, as Wynn and Vernand Morency combined for 13 carries for 102 yards in the first half. But they had just nine carries for 19 in the second half.

Favre went cold, too. His 19-of-22 first half, for 243 yards, fizzled, and the Packers committed eight of their 12 penalties in the second half. Three holding penalties on successive possessions (one on a kickoff return, two on the offensive line) hurt field position and put the Packers in difficult down-and-distance situations.

Ultimately, after taking the 20-10 lead, the offense went five straight possessions without a first down, gaining just 14 net yards in that time.

"Tonight we squandered one," offensive tackle Mark Tauscher said. "But I'm not going to take anything away from those guys. They could have thrown in the towel. We were doing everything right the first half. They came back out, they adjusted, and totally outplayed us in the second half."

Even though the defense got a Brady Poppinga interception (off a Nick Collins deflection) and Nick Barnett sack to thwart two potential scoring drives by the Bears, it couldn't hold out forever.

Chicago's game-winning 79-yard touchdown drive started with a 27-yard completion to Olsen. A 4-yard run by Adrian Peterson converted a critical third-and-4 to the Packers' 42, and even though a Green Bay challenge of the spot did result in the ball being moved back a foot or so, the nose of the ball still grazed the measuring stick for a first down.

{sportsad300}Three plays later, Chicago faced third-and-2 from the 34, and with the Packers playing up tight against the run, Griese ran play-action and tight end Desmond Clark slipped behind everybody for a touchdown pass with 2:05 left in the game.

"I bit up on the run," Poppinga said. "It was one-tenth of a second but that's all it takes in this league. He got up over top of me and that was that. The rest is history."

On the final desperation drive, Favre completed four passes of 8 yards and another for 9 to get the ball to the Chicago 32, burning his last timeout with 13 seconds left. A heave to the end zone was then intercepted by Brandon McGowan, putting the Packers at minus-4 in turnovers for the evening and saving the Bears' season for the time being after the defending NFC champions got off to a 1-3 start.

"We definitely felt like we should have won the game, but we didn't win," Barnett said. "So I hate to shoulda woulda coulda ..."

Instead of doing that, and dwelling on the missed chance to put their arch-rivals four games out of the division lead in early October, the Packers have no choice but to move on.

They had been good enough to overcome their mistakes to start 4-0, knowing there was plenty to improve upon. Now the mistakes have cost them, so they must show whether they're good enough to bounce back, quickly.

"We lost the game, that's the reality of it," Woodson said. "But the beautiful thing is we have another game next week, and it's a home game. We'll be ready.

"We've tasted defeat for the first time this year, but it's time to get over it. Already."

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