Losing streak, tension snapped

SportsFootballChicago BearsNFLMarcus RobinsonCade McNownNew York Giants

The shaving cream said it all.

As wide receiver Eddie Kennison stood surrounded by microphones and cameras in the Bears' locker room, teammate Marcus Robinson crept around behind him and gave him an entire face full of shaving cream.

The Bears had not won a Super Bowl, a conference title, a division title, not even a second game in a row. But they had beaten the Green Bay Packers in Lambeau Field for the second straight year, this time by a score of 27-24, and a tension that was growing palpable through an 0-4 start had been shattered, as evidenced by the shaving cream.

On the other side of the locker room, left tackle Blake Brockermeyer, playing despite the effects of an infection that left him lighter, weaker and out of last Sunday's game, kidded right tackle James "Big Cat" Williams: "I kept hearing, `Blake, Blake, come back, I need you,"' Brockermeyer laughed. "I think Cat missed me."

Not so, said Williams, who hinted that the infection may have damaged Brockermeyer's hearing. "No, I was saying, `Blake, Blake, block somebody,'" Williams laughed.

But it was not just the win that had snapped the tension. It was they way they won that was important for a team that was in danger of spiraling out of control and hope.

The offense had scored 27 points; more important, it had taken control of the game at the most critical point as it had not done before this season. Besides a 99-yard drive for a touchdown in the third quarter, quarterback Cade McNown and the offense took 10 plays and 5:29 in the fourth quarter to drive 41 yards for a field goal that turned out to be the winning points.

The defense had made a final, game-saving stop on a team with a chance to win. After the demoralizing drives by Minnesota, Detroit and the New York Giants that let victories slip away, this was the defense's day too. The NFL's 29th-ranked run defense held the Packers to 44 rushing yards and produced three turnovers in the first half, matching the previous total for the first five games.

The special teams and kicker Paul Edinger shook off a holding penalty that nullified a 37-yard field goal and put a second kick through from 47 yards. A team that was at risk of splintering came together.

"It never seemed like separate teams but there was no `us' with the whole team and it seemed like the whole team's morale was down," said linebacker Warrick Holdman. "This meant a lot because this team came together today. I expect big things after this."

Progress has been difficult to find for a franchise starving for it. The Bears are now 7-14 in their first 21 games under coach Dick Jauron. They were 7-14 in their last 21 under coach Dave Wannstedt and 10-11 in their first 21 under Wannstedt.

Sunday marked progress in least one regard--it was a road NFC Central victory, only their third in their last 17 contests. They did it by scoring first, giving themselves a lead for the first time since midway through the third quarter of the first game at Minnesota. They built a 24-3 lead before the Brett Favre rallied the Packers to within a touchdown at 24-17, then put up the winning points with Edinger's field goal.

For the first time in many games, the Bears were making the plays that had been made at their expense.

Sunday even their bad plays turned out well. Quarterback Cade McNown made an off-balance heave running to his right, downfield to where Marcus Robinson was double covered. Against the Detroit Lions, that pass was intercepted. Sunday Robinson took it away from two defenders and completed a 68-yard scoring play.Kennison fumbled a handoff in the first half, but he, not the Packers, picked up the bouncing ball and took it 52 yards to set up a field goal that put the Bears up 10-0.

"It was a bad throw and [Robinson] made a great play on it," McNown said. "And there was the end around to Eddie which I fumbled. It wasn't a good performance on my part.

"There'll be some anxiety that's relieved because of this but there's no need to let up by any means. We're 1-4 right now. We got down in the first quarter of the season."

They haven't turned anything around yet, at least not all the way. They have only three rushing touchdowns in five games and their quarterback has them all. They are one of the most penalized teams in the NFL and again nearly undermined their good works Sunday with misdeeds. And their six takeaways on the season are among the NFL's fewest.

And while Bears running backs are not getting in the end zone, they are showing signs of being included in the offense by the coaching staff. With James Allen carrying a career-high 24 times Sunday, the Bears are now 6-3 under Jauron when a running back carries at least 20 times.

The Packers had a chance for a tying field goal or winning touchdown when the offense got the ball at the Green Bay 18 with 1:19 remaining. Favre picked up two first downs and a penalty gave the Packers a third. But the drive ended at the Chicago 44 when defensive end Phillip Daniels hit Favre as he was trying to throw and the Bears had their first win.

"I think this is the start of something good for us," said Daniels, who picked up his fourth sack in five games. "When you're in the situation we were in at 0-4, the first win is always the hardest. Now I think we can roll. We get our confidence back and we feel like we can beat people."

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