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Packers-Bears Recap


When the Packers trailed the Bears 14-0 late in the first quarter Sunday, there was a disturbing hint of déjà vu, the circumstances then smacking of what had befallen them just a week earlier in Detroit.

As a matter of fact, the "coincidence" later prompted GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman to observe in his post-game review, "Considering what happened to us last week (in Detroit) and what had happened in the first quarter, being down 14-nothing, it would have been easy to fold their tent.

"But that," he noted, "was not an option today."

Meaning "not an option" if the Packers were to retain their hopes of making the imminent NFL playoffs.

And, from that point on, they began to take control, with the aid of a smothering defense which shut out the Midway Monsters the rest of the way (the Bears late fourth quarter touchdown came on a kickoff return by Chicago's Jerry Azuma) and triggered the production of 21 points with 5 turnovers.

And with the seldom-erring foot of Ryan Longwell, who supplied four much-needed field goals - in as many attempts - and a pair of extra points along the way as he closed in on the team's career scoring record.

In the remedial process, the Green and Gold put the Bears away by amassing 34 unanswered points - their highest total since Oct. 12, when they also registered 34 in a 40-34 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

Things were not encouraging early, however, the Bears striking for a pair of first quarter touchdowns on a 61-yard Kordell Stewart hookup with wide receiver Mary Booker and a 45-yard scoring runback of an interception by Bears linebacker Lance Briggs - all within the span of 56 seconds.

The Green and Gold subsequently launched the comeback in somewhat modest fashion with a pair of Longwell field goals (24 and 38 yards), the latter set up by Torrance Marshall's recovery of an Azumah fumble triggered by fellow special teamer David Martin.

On their next possession, quarterback Brett Favre lifted them within one point of their guests. Presiding over a classic Favre-ian drive, he marched the Green and Gold 86 yards to the Chicago end zone in 9 plays, climaxing the push with a 22-yard strike to wide receiver Javon Walker. Longwell's first conversion of the afternoon shaved the Bears' lead to 14-13 at the intermission.

It was McKenzie who also initiated the Packers' second half domination of the Bears, making his first "pick" of the afternoon at his own 40-yard line on the Bears' first possession of the third quarter and returning it to the Green Bay 48.

It led to a third Longwell field goal, this one a 35-yarder, which sent the Packers into the lead for good, 16-14, although the score obviously was somewhat tenuous at the time.

The stifling defense forced the Bears to settle for three-and-out on their next possession and the Packers were en route to another Longwell field goal, this one a 45-yarder following an 8-play, 36-yard drive, which put them up 19-14.

The biggest play of the day was to evolve shortly - at a most opportune moment. The Bears, in possession at the Green Bay 16-yard line, were threatening to take back the lead. But McKenzie, embarrassed earlier when a "blown" coverage had resulted in the Bears' first touchdown, literally took a hand in the proceedings - and redeemed himself in spectacular fashion.

Intercepting a Kordell Stewart pass at the Green Bay 10-yard line, with an open field ahead of him, he raced 90 yards to a touchdown, lunging the final yard into the end zone just ahead of the Bears' futile pursuit.

Sherman opted to try a 2-point conversion and it was a success, Favre hitting tight end Bubba Franks in the end zone, parlaying the lead to 27-14, with 9:16 remaining.

The defense next played a key role in the Packers' final touchdown of the day. The Bears, a third-and-10 situation and only 3:21 remaining, went for it on fourth down and Stewart was sacked at the 1-yard line by Grady Jackson.

The Packers took full advantage. Ahman Green crashed into the end zone on a second consecutive one-yard run and, with Longwell's conversion, the Packers were out front, 34-14, with 2:26 to play.

Although the result was assured, the Bears had one final "moment" when Azumah returned Longwell's succeeding kickoff 88 yards for a touchdown.

The defense, forcing the Bears to go to the air frequently in the second half, held them to a mere 44 yards rushing - statistically their best effort of the season. Their previous best had been a rushing yield of 56 yards to the Detroit Lions Sept. 14.

The dominance of the defense also is reflected in the Packers' marked advantage in time of possession. They controlled the football for 35 minutes, 24 seconds, the Bears for only 24 minutes, 36 seconds.

Sherman, later assessing the total performance, supplied an appropriate postscript.

"I thought we had great intensity out there today," he said.

Individually, Na'il Diggs paced the defense with 10 tackles, Hannibal Navies weighing in with 9 and Marques Anderson with 7. Cletidus Hunt, Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila and Grant Jackson each posted quarterback sacks.

Anderson started at strong safety for Antuan Edwards, who was placed on injured reserve over the weekend with a hamstring problem.

THE FAVRE FILE: With respect to quarterback Brett Favre, the pre-game focus was largely on the certainty that he was going to establish a new Packers record for most consecutive games played (188).

But that was not the only record the remarkable field general set Sunday. He tied a venerable, all-time team mark with his 22-yard scoring strike to wide receiver Javon Walker in the closing minutes of the first half, thus throwing a TD pass in a 22nd consecutive game, equaling the Packers record posted by Cecil Isbell in 1941-42.

Favre also extended to 24 games his touchdown-pass streak against the Bears, tying the longest such streak against one opponent since 1970 - Miami's Dan Marino. Marino's streak was forged against the New York Jets.

THE GREEN FILE: Running back Ahman Green honed in on Jim Taylor's Packers single-season rushing record Sunday but a Chicago defense obviously committed to controlling his contributions stopped him just short of the 41-year-old mark.

Green thus had to settle 80 rushing yards in 30 attempts, a 2.7-yard average, and thus needs 12 yards at San Diego Sunday to eclipse Taylor's record (1,474), set in 1962.

Green, who will go into action with 1,463 yards, did surpass Sunday what had been the second-most prolific rushing season in Packers annals, 1,435 yards by Dorsey Levens in 1997.

THE LONGWELL FILE: With his 14-point harvest against the Bears, Ryan Longwell swelled his career total to 818 points, leaving him only 5 short of the Packers' all-time record - 823 - set by the hallowed Don Hutson (1935-45).

Longwell also is only two points back of Chris Jacke (1989-96), who holds second place at the moment with 820 points.

THE McKENZIE FILE: McKenzie's 90-yard scoring interception return in the fourth quarter, which in effect turned the game, tied for the fourth-longest in team history.

McKenzie's first interception, early in the third quarter also was point-productive, leading to a Ryan Longwell field goal, McKenzie thus accounting for 10 of the Packers' 34 points.

The 27-year-old University of Memphis alumnus was credited with a career-high 6 passes defensed, complementing his 5 solo tackles.

EASY TO BEAR: Sunday's victory was the Packers' seventh straight over the Bears and their 20th win in their last 23 meetings with the Monsters of the Midway, dating back to their second encounter of the 1992 season.

It also represented a seventh straight success for GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman, who is 7-1 against the Bears over his four-year tenure as Green Bay's head coach.

Overall, the Packers now have won 77 of their 166 meetings with the Bears, who have won 83. There also have been 6 ties.


(on the play of the defense) "I can't say enough about our defense. I thought that they kept us in the game while the offense found itself. We end up with 34 unanswered points until we gave away a kickoff return for a touchdown, which is frustrating. But I thought the defense played a heck of a ball game. Our defensive line stepped up. They are a good running football team and I thought we were able to contain their rush game."

(on Mike McKenzie) "I can't say enough about Mike McKenzie. Mike McKenzie gets beat on one touchdown pass about 64 yards. Great throw, great catch, and he said he was going to get it back and sure as heck did."

(on the stress of the game) "The season is stressful, but you're down 14-0 with your back against the wall, you're really back against the wall. You know just keeping the troops together on the sideline, I thought they did a great job of staying focused, not panicking, staying together, and it is part of what we do. I mean there is stress in everybody's job, not just football coaches. Trust me everybody has it. But certainly this was a must win for us here at home. Playing the Bears adds even more juice to the fire because it is the Bears. That's a rivalry game you have to play well. You have to win those games and we were fortunate to win today."

(on the running game) "I am not surprised by anything from week to week. Defenses can gear up, I have said this from day one, defenses can gear up and stop anything they decide to stop. You have to find out what they can stop, if they are really working hard to stop that one phase. I thought they did a great job of containing our run game today. I think we were just under 100 yards, but I thought they did a fine job with that and it was hard running out there. Our guys were blocking and working hard, it wasn't a lack of intensity or effort, it was a physical game. I think when we talk about the Bears-Packers, it's going to be that type of ballgame. We didn't open the game up really until the end. It was a close contest by both sides, any team could have won it and we were fortunate to win it."

(on whether they prepared for Kordell Stewart all week) "Well, the way Kordell played last week it would be certainly difficult to sit him down this week. I thought I would have done the same thing, play Kordell. I did not know the status of Chandler, but I thought that Kordell played well enough that he would play this week and we prepared that way."

(on the timeout at the end of the 1st half) "It was a mistake on my part. I was hoping I could block a punt and being a little bit too greedy there and it ended up backfiring and it will never happen again."


Quarterback Brett Favre: (on playing the Bears) "What frustrates me is everyone says 'Brett Favre's record and how he's done against the Bears and record in cold temperatures.' I'm just one of 53. Unlike baseball, where one pitcher can shut everyone out, in football it takes a team. I don't feel any added advantage against these guys. For whatever reason, we play well against them. They played well today and, at one point, it looked like they were going to take this one. I'm just glad the last 10, 12 years have been in my favor when it comes to playing these guys. "

(on interception) "I made a protection call, I thought was going to be picked up. Obviously, there was some miscommunication there. I spun out (the tackle) and as bad as I hate to say it, I threw it as hard as I could towards our sidelines. I didn't even see who was over there. I wasn't even concerned about who was over there. I was just throwing as hard as I could. If it got up to the 50th row, great. That's what I expected it to do, of course. It obviously didn't work that way."

(on comeback) "Anytime you spot a team14 points, its tough to come back from. In a game like the Bears game, you can really throw out records and statistics and all that stuff. So to spot them 14 points and give them life is not good. I didn't feel a need to go over and say anything to the guys. If we can't figure it out, than we don't need to be here and guys figured it out."

Cornerback Mike McKenzie: (on stopping the run) "We want to see the ball in the air...Right now (as a defense), we're definitely where we want to be."


-Packers players wore a black decal on the back of their helmets in Sunday's game in memory of the organization's late Hall of Fame halfback, Tony Canadeo.

They will continue to wear the decal, which bears a white No. 3, reflecting his retired jersey number, for the remainder of the season. Canadeo, fourth-ranking rusher in team annals and one of only four players to have his jersey number retired, died Nov. 29 at the age of 84.

-A moment of silence in Canadeo's memory also was observed prior to the singing of the national anthem by recording artist Steve Azar.

-Fans also were asked to pause to remember those who died at Pearl Harbor 62 years ago Sunday.

-The Packers now have rushed for 2,000 yards (2,057) and are 403 yards short of the team's all-time single-season record (2,460) with three games remaining. They need to average 134.7 yards per game to break the record.

-Sunday's victory lifted the Packers' 2003 record in Lambeau Field over the .500 mark to 4-3.

-The Packers and Bears closed out the afternoon with identical third-down efficiency marks of 29 percent, based upon 5 "conversions" in 17 attempts in both cases.

-Cornerback Erwin Swiney, added to the active roster only Saturday to replace Antuan Edwards, ended up seeing considerable action in the Packers' nickel defense late in the game when injuries reduced the number of healthy "corners" to three.

-Packers captains for Sunday's game: Brett Favre and Marco Rivera (offense), Mike McKenzie and Aaron Kampman (defense) and Rob Davis (special teams).

-Packers inactives for the game included linebackers Marcus Wilkins and T.J. Slaughter, offensive linemen Brennan Curtin and Marcus Spriggs, defensive linemen Jamal Reynolds and Kenny Peterson, defensive back Derek Combs and Designated Third Quarterback Craig Nall.

-Hall of Famer Paul Hornung was in Lambeau Field Sunday to formally dedicate the "Paul Hornung Room" during a ceremony on the Associated Bank Club Level (the fourth level).

Hornung presented to Packers President Bob Harlan the Heisman Trophy awarded to him following his senior season at Notre Dame. He also signed the large photos of himself located above the entrance to the "Paul Hornung Room" - getting airborne on a "lift" to accomplish this task - and adjacent to the fourth level escalator.

-Dennis Hastert, Speaker of the House of Representatives and Gov. Jim Doyle were among the 70,458 in attendance at Sunday's game.

-In the spirit of the season, each fan to enter Lambeau Field Sunday was presented with a Christmas stocking courtesy of Sentry.

-The temperature at kickoff was 35 degrees, relatively balmy for Titletown in December.

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