Notebook: Close To A Miraculous Play

The prayer was almost answered. But almost didn’t mean much. Brett Favre’s Hail Mary on the game’s final play on Sunday night appeared to be grabbed simultaneously by Chicago safety Brandon McGowan and Green Bay receiver Donald Driver in the back of the end zone. But McGowan had the better grip and was able to establish control for the interception, despite the fact that Driver had his arms tangled in there as well. - More Audio | Video | Packers-Bears Game Center

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WR Donald Driver fights with Chicago S Brandon McGowan (36) for the ball on the game's final pass.

The prayer was almost answered. But almost didn't mean much.

Brett Favre's Hail Mary on the game's final play on Sunday night appeared to be grabbed simultaneously by Chicago safety Brandon McGowan and Green Bay receiver Donald Driver in the back of the end zone. But McGowan had the better grip and was able to establish control of the ball for the interception, despite the fact that Driver had his arms tangled in there as well.

The turnover, Green Bay's fifth in the game, ended the frustrating 27-20 defeat to the NFC North rival Bears. Favre's throw had come from the Chicago 32-yard line after the Packers had driven from their own 27 in the final two minutes to try to tie the game.

Driver did not address reporters after the game, but receiving mate Greg Jennings said it was just a matter of McGowan having leverage in his favor as gravity pulled them both to the ground.

"I know he had his hands on the ball," Jennings said of Driver. "It's one of those situations where it's tough when two guys have their hands on the ball, somebody comes down with all their weight on it and it can be taken right out of your hands, or vice versa. That's a tough situation.

"It should never have come down to that, but unfortunately it did."

Crucial penalty, or was it?

Of the Packers' 12 penalties (for 93 yards), perhaps the most crucial came in the second quarter, when Chicago lined up for a 36-yard field goal, trailing 7-0.

Robbie Gould made the kick, but Packers defensive tackle Corey Williams was flagged for lining head-up over the center, which is illegal on a field goal try.

The 5-yard penalty gave the Bears a first down at the Green Bay 13-yard line, so the Bears took the points off the board and resumed their possession. Two plays later, Cedric Benson ran in for a 10-yard touchdown to tie the game.

Only replays appeared to show that Williams was lined up between the center and guard, legally. That's certainly what Williams and the Packers' coaches thought.

"It wasn't a good call," Williams said. "Coach looked at it, and they even showed it to the refs. But you know how it is, they make their call and they're going to stick with it."

The four-point difference was significant, to say the least.

"We need to get that rectified," Head Coach Mike McCarthy said. "That's a discussion that has to happen between us and the league or the officials."

New blocker

In addition to his duties on defense and special teams, Williams also took a snap on offense Sunday night.

On the Packers' first series, Williams was inserted as an extra tight-end in the goal-line package. He lined up as an off-set tight end on the right side, shuffled a little to his left but stayed to the right of the ball, and then delivered the lead block on Chicago middle linebacker Brian Urlacher on DeShawn Wynn's 2-yard touchdown run.

Hester contained

The Packers prevented return specialist Devin Hester from breaking any big gains.

{sportsad300}The kickoff team simply avoided the second-year speedster, using pop-up kickoffs that would come down between the 25- and 35-yard lines and were caught by bigger, less mobile players.

Considering that simply kicking the ball out of bounds each time would have given the Bears the ball at the 40-yard line, the strategy was mildly successful. After the pooch kickoffs, the Bears began drives at the 30, 35, 36 and 40-yard lines.

On punts, Hester was able to return the ball four of five times, but the coverage was solid. He averaged 10 yards per return with a long of 20, but that one was cut in half by a penalty.

Green Bay punter Jon Ryan averaged 48 yards per punt, with a long of 64. The net average on the five punts was a respectable 40 yards.

First action

Rookie first-round draft choice Justin Harrell was active for the first time all season, working into the rotation at defensive tackle and also playing on the field-goal block team.

Harrell took Colin Cole's place on the 45-man gameday roster. Cole had sustained a mild concussion earlier in the week, and though he practiced on Friday, he was inactive for the game.

Harrell was credited with one solo tackle, dragging down Benson for a 1-yard loss early in the fourth quarter.

Injury update

Center Scott Wells was poked in the eye late in the third quarter and did not return to the game.

Jason Spitz took Wells' place at center for the offense's final four possessions.

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