Winning in the NFL usually comes down to one universal theory: Hope for positive results on the road, but make certain that you don't lose at home, regardless of the opponent.
Of course, that is easier said than done, and the Packers found that out the hard way on Sunday afternoon against the Bears.
A week after a very impressive 24-14 win at Carolina, the Packers were downed by Chicago 21-10. Although Chicago came into the game with a home loss of their own last week to Detroit and the Packers were coming off a powerful win, the results were reversed for this game.
The Packers had beaten the Bears the last six meetings and 18 out of 20 and appeared to be in good shape once again Sunday. However, an unfortunate turn just before halftime made a huge difference. Faced with a first and goal on the Bears' two-yard line, Ahman Green got the carry, but coughed up the ball when Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher broke through to make the tackle. Safety Mike Brown scooped up the ball and headed for a touchdown leading to a 14-3 halftime lead. The 14-point swing created on the play turned out to be too much to overcome for the Green and Gold.
According to Brett Favre, it's plays like that those that can swing a game on any given week and today the Packers didn't recover.
"It's one play here or there and today was a perfect example," Favre said. "We expect to play better than that and we should play better than that, but there's a fine line right there. We were not on our side of the line today."
Favre acknowledged that although the Bears are a rival and also an NFC North division foe, the loss hurts just like any other. He said that there is no excuse for not winning at home, but admitted that the Bears played a very good game.
"That's a big win for them I'm sure," Favre explained. "Just because it's the Bears doesn't make it any bigger. I don't care what other people say. A loss is a loss, especially at home. Even after our big win Monday night, it feels like Minnesota last year when we lost here. I don't care who we play, we should win at home, but I give them credit."
After a tough loss, it's not always easy to figure out exactly why things went the way they did. For the Packers however, many players cited lost opportunities and turnovers as the deciding factors in the game.
"The score didn't reflect how many yards we had," Tony Fisher said. "We were able to move the ball up and down the field. There was nothing out there that they surprised us with, it was just about us taking advantage of all the opportunities and we didn't."
The Packers had three turnovers and were only one of four inside the red zone on the day. The Bears on the other hand, made the most of their opportunities and capitalized with the big momentum swing before halftime and also on two out of three attempts inside the Packers' 20-yard line.
It's common for critics to question a team's preparation after a loss like this one, but several Packers players put an end to that theory.
"Were we less prepared?" Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila asked. "We were prepared to play a good game. Did we underestimate this team? No. We did not underestimate this team by any stretch of the imagination. We took them serious."
Center Mike Flanagan echoed Gbaja-Biamila's sentiments.
"We were prepared enough, there's no question," Flanagan said. "We had a bad day, they had a good day. They made more plays, we didn't make enough plays. Whatever you want to call it, flat out, they won."
The Packers' road to success doesn't get any easier at this point either. Next Sunday they travel to Indianapolis to take on the high-scoring Colts and they knew they must put this difficult loss behind them.
"Well one thing about this team and the beauty about being part of this organization headed by Coach Sherman, is that when you win you don't go order Super Bowl rings and when you lose you don't dwell on that either," Gbaja-Biamila said. "We're even keel even though we lost.
"Now, I'm going to learn something. We are going to watch and say we can do this or that different. We just need to see what they were doing. We are just going to look Monday and find out what we did wrong, correct it and get ready for next week."
Marco Rivera, who was part of an offensive line that led the way for an outburst of 404 total yards, said the team must remain patient because there will be plenty of better days ahead.
"The offense we have we should be scoring more than what we scored today obviously, so it is really frustrating. But you can't get too high when you win a big game and you can't get too low when you lose one like this. It's a long season and you just have to keep plugging away to be in the hunt."