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Remmel: Packers vs. Bears


Even in these days of monster numbers in the NFL's collective passing game, most notably those being amassed with great frequency by the highly productive Peyton Manning, the 400-yard passing performance is hardly commonplace.

For pertinent example, there has been only one such effort recorded in the first 12 weeks of the current season--covering nearly 200 games--that by the St. Louis Rams' Marc Bulger back in the fourth weekend of the campaign.

A performance of those majestic dimensions has been even more of a rarity in Packers history. In point of fact, there have been just three 400-yard passing performances in the team's 85-year annals, spanning 1,100-plus games--or an average of one for every 350 games they have played to date.

The first was recorded by Don Horn, a first-round draft selection (1967) who threw for 410 yards against the then St. Louis Cardinals in 1969 en route to a 45-28 victory in the Packers' regular season finale that season.

The second was fashioned by Lynn Dickey, considered to be the premier long passer in team history, who passed for what remains a club record 418 yards against Tampa Bay on October 12, 1980 in a contest which ended in a 14-14 overtime tie.

And the third, which is the focal point of this essay because of the related circumstances, was forged by none other than the Packers' resident field general, Brett Favre.

A feat he accomplished a dozen years ago this weekend--December 5, 1993--it is particularly pertinent at the moment because it came against the Bears in Chicago's venerable Soldier Field, where on Sunday the immemorial rivals collide for the 169th regular-season time in professional football's most storied rivalry-with Favre again at quarterback for the Green and Gold.

Then nearing the end of his first full season as the Packers' starting quarterback, Favre amassed 402 passing yards in a losing but record-setting venture against the Monsters of the Midway.

In the process, the freewheeling field general completed 36 of 54 attempts, thus establishing a club mark for the former, eclipsing the existing record of 35 completions, set by Dickey at Tampa Bay October 12, 1980, en route to his club-record, 418-yard production against the Buccaneers.

Unfortunately for Number 4 and the Green and Gold, the Packers left Soldier Field empty-handed on that occasion, falling to Mike Ditka's Bears, 30-17, in part because two interceptions and a Favre fumble were returned for three touchdowns by the Chicagoans along the way.

Favre, characteristically, did not celebrate his statistical accomplishment.

The 400 yards means nothing," he asserted following the game."They didn't stop us. We stopped ourselves."

The Packers' 466 yards in total offense-against the league's fifth-ranked defense-was the most in Coach Mike Holmgren"s 28-game tenure.

Since that '93 loss in the Windy City, Favre has led the Packers to 10 consecutive wins in Soldier Field, plus a 2002 victory in the University of Illinois Stadium at Champaign, Ill., the year that Soldier Field was being renovated.

Speaking of Packers "moments' in Soldier Field, two years after that 402-yard effort, Favre launched the longest completion in Packers annals, a 99-yard hookup with wide receiver Robert Brooks in Green Bay's season opener (September 11, 1995).

In addition to establishing a Packers record, the Favre-Brooks collaboration tied the NFL record for longest completion-one that obviously can never be broken.

-- Record Rivalry: With 168 regular-season encounters to date behind them, the Packers and Bears are "partners" in the most prolific rivalry in NFL history, having met more often than any other two teams in league annals.

The Bears--who still lead the series (84-78-6) despite Green Bay's 19-3 advantage over the past 11 seasons--also are involved in the second most prolific series in NFL history.

The Monsters of the Midway and the Detroit Lions have clashed on 152 occasions, the Bears having won 85 of those, the Lions 62 and there have been 5 ties.

Next up numerically are the New York Giants and Washington Redskins, who have met 145 times, followed by the Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles, who have squared off in 141 games.

Just for the record, the Giants lead their series with the Redskins, 82-59-4...and their series with the Eagles 74-65-2.

The Bears, incidentally, own a share of the oldest rivalry in NFL annals. They launched their series against the then Chicago (now Arizona) Cardinals in 1920, the year the league was founded as the American Professional Football Conference.

It, however, has not been a continuous series. The teams, for example, have met only 5 times in the last 15 years.

-- On the subject of numbers, there is one figure which underscores the intensity of the Packers-Bears rivalry beyond all others. After 84 years of competition and 168 games, only 99 points separate them.

The Bears have scored 2,847 points, the Packers 2,748 since they began skirmishing in 1921. The minuscule average differential? Just under six-tenths of one point per game.

Continuing an association with the team that is more than 55 years old, Lee Remmel was named the first official Team Historian of the Green Bay Packers in February 2004. The former *Green Bay Press-Gazette reporter and Packers public relations director, Remmel will write regular columns for as part of his new assignment.

In addition to those articles, Remmel will answer fan questions in a monthly Q&A column. To submit a question to Remmel, click here. *

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