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This is the place, football fans. Lambeau Field. The greatest pro football stadium in the country. A place where the skyboxes are above every other seat in the joint. There's no upper deck. It's one big bowl, so there are no bad views. And those seats? Well, they're bleachers. Tough luck if you're wedged between two 350-pound guys in an orange snowmobile suit. You're their best friend for the afternoon. Perhaps they'll buy you a beer at Curly's Pub afterwards. Ya, hey, dare. Bears-Packers.
The Bears are fighting for their postseason life and the job of coach Dick Jauron. And there's no better atmosphere than the oldest rivalry in the NFL. They win here and the game next week in Chicago against Minnesota takes on a whole new dimension. The Bears lose this one and the Vikings beat Seattle today, plan to clean the garage next Sunday.
The only thing bigger than John Deere in these parts is Brett Favre. And his injured thumb is the only topic people are talking about. The Packers ruined the state of Wisconsin's Thanksgiving by losing in Detroit. The Lions unbelievably shut down Ahman Green. If the Bears can do the same (tall order), this could be a game.
Some game notes: Guard Chris Villarrial is inactive, which Terrence Metcalf starts his first NFL game at guard. Chandler is the No. 3, so Rex Grossman is the guy if Kordell Stewart gets hurt. Safety Mike Green is active, but Bobby Gray keeps the starting job. No surprise there.
Well, have the 166th meeting of these two teams soon
The Bears call tails and the coin reads heads. The Packers will start with the ball. Najeh Davenport takes Paul Edingers' kick at his own 10 and brings it out to the 32. Ahman Green runs three times to start the game and the Bears stop him. John Bidwell's punt is a bad one but gets a decent roll. The Bears will start at their own 28.
Stewart rolls right and hits tight end Desmond Clark for a 19-yard gain. Thomas takes it up the middle for little if no gain and the Packers fans like that. Three-yard gain, actually. Thomas again. He tries to cut back but is taken down after a yard. On third-and-6 Stewart throws a short out to Bobby Wade but it's nearly picked off and taken back the other way. Brad Maynard's punt lands in the end zone.
Favre hits Antonio Freeman for about an 11-yard gain and then tosses a pitch to Green going the other way. Warrick Holdman stops Green after 4 yards. What looks like a broken play sends Favre scrambling to the sidelines chased by Bobby Gray. No gain brings up third-and-6. Tackle Chad Clifton jumps and that backs up the Packers 5 yards. Favre goes from the shotgun, rolls left and then rifles one to Javon Walker for 16 yards and the first. All Favre there. Favre then hits William Henderson for 3 yards to midfield. The Packers are getting in and out of the huddle quickly. Green runs for 2 to bring up another third down. Favre hits Wesley Walls and he's stopped short of the marker by Charles Tillman. They're just short and Mike Sherman elects to punt. Bidwell's kick goes into the end zone. So three straight punts early.
Thomas goes up the middle for 4 yards. Oh, boy. Stewart scrambles, tries to throw a deep one with a jump pass and it's 10 yards short of Justin Gage. That was lucky it wasn't picked. Stewart again tries for Gage on the sideline but it's broken up. Punt...and a bad one. Maynard kicks one 49 yards into the end zone on the first possession and then gets off a 33-yarder going the same direction with all kinds of field in front of him. Brutal.
So the Packers start around their own 45. They run a play-action to Green o the first play but Nick Luchey can't hold on to Favre's pass. Green is stuffed by Mike Brown in the back field on second down and the Packers are called for a false start on third down. The Packers look worse than the Bears. Love the punts.
Mike Gandy gets his false start of the game early, backing the Bears up their 12. Thomas runs for 3. Stewart drops back, feels it and takes off. Unfortunately he's cut down after 3 yards, setting up a third-and-9. Stewart hits David Terrell for a big gain (21 yards) to get out of trouble and then hits a wide-open Marty Booker streaking down the field for a 61-yard touchdown. All of a sudden two big plays. Where did that come from?
Bears 7, Packers 0
After a short gain on first, Favre throws again short to Robert Ferguson, who's nailed by Bobby Gray. Huge hit. Favre is pressured and spun all around by R.W. McQuarters and throws one up for grabs that Lance Briggs runs underneath and returns 45 yards for a touchdown. Favre's called for intentional grounding on that one, but it doesn't matter. Two huge plays by the Bears so far. Favre looks like he's lost it. Seriously. I'm thinking Doug Pederson.
Bears 14, Packers 0
The Packers start at their own 40 after another short kick by Edinger. Green finally gets a run, breaking it up the middle for 10 yards. Favre throws over the middle to a wide open William Henderson, who flat out drops it. Favre comes back and hits Driver and the Walls. He's playing like he's angry.
Ball on the 17. Green picks up the first and then Favre hits Bubba Franks at the 6. Briggs makes another big play, tipping Favre's pass at the line and forcing Green Bay to kick a field goal.
Bears 14, Packers 3
Jerry Azumah tries to cut back on the kick return and has the ball stripped by David Martin. Packers recover at the 21. Favre goes straight to the end zone for Driver but the ball goes off his finger tips. Green runs for a yard before Favre hits Walker for the first. Wait, they rule the ball hit the turf. Red hanky coming. There it is. This one might be overturned. The ruling stands. Fans hate it. Longwell's kick is good. The Bears escape there.
Bears 14, Packers 6
Azumah lets the kick bounce and then fields it at the goal line. He takes it out to the 23. Stewart throws a jump ball to Booker who brings it down for a gain of 20. Stewart throws it away on first down and then hands to last week's hero Brock Forsey on second. Not this week. He's stuffed for a loss of a yard. Stewart then is sacked and Maynard gets off a line drive punt. Hunter Hillenmeyer, with a lot to prove after being cut by the Packers, is blocked in the back. Packers ball at the 9.
Green buys the Pack some breathing room and then Favre hits Driver for the first. But someone (not sure, who) jumped and the Packers go backwards. Favre finds Ferguson on a slant for 20 yards. Green picks up some more ona short run and a nicely run screen. Green comes out and Davenport comes in and picks up 10 yards down 34. Favre flips a wide-receiver screen to Ferguson who shakes Azumah and picks up 12 yards. Green Bay is moving quickly. Walker gets behind Tillman in the end zone and Favre lays it in there for the TD.
Bears 14, Packers 13
That was Favre's 24th straight game against the Bears with a touchdown pass. Geez.
The Bears start around their 30 and Thomas rumbles, spins and falls for 9 yards. Attention: Two minutes left in the half. Consider yourself warned. Stewart throws one up for Gage, who grabs it, but is flagged for offensive pass interference for the second straight week. That backs the Bears up to their own 33. They would've been at the Packers' 37. Kind of a ticky-tack call there. Stewart hits Booker on a quick out. Some sort of pitch to Rabih Abdullah gets nothing, even with a 5-yard facemask penalty. Abdullah then goes straight up the middle across midfield for the first. The Bears burn a timeout with 1:34 on the clock. Gage drops a ball and then some sort of razzle-dazzle pitch to Booker is stuffed. On third-and-13, Stewart rolls right and flings one to Gage in the end zone. Gage lays out but can't make the catch. Probably should've caught that. Maynard's punt goes into the end zone.
Favre takes over at the 20 with a minute remaining in the half. A quick out gets 3 and stops the clock. On second down, Favre steps up in the pocket and heaves one long. No good. Favre stepped up a bit too much in the pocket--over the line of scrimmage. On third and long the Packers will pack it in. The Bears stop the clock with :41 on it and will get the ball back close to midfield. Try across midfield. McQuarters returns the kick 25 yards to the 41.
Stewart takes a shot at Booker near the goal line but it's broken up. Abdullah drops a shot dump and it's a good thing. With no timeouts, that would've been a mess. Stewart is sacked by KGB at the 50, taking the Bears out of any field-goal possibility, albeit a long one. For some reason Green Bay calls timeout with :05 left. Stewart will chuck one in the end zone like back in the day over in Ann Arbor. He heaves one for Gage but Darren Sharper picks it off, weaves his way back up field and nearly breaks it before Stewart, the last guy, cuts his legs out.
Azumah takes the second-half kickoff at the 6 and motors down the sideline and the Bears will start at their own 43. Thomas gets nailed at the line of scrimmage and it's 2nd and 10. Packers out-gained the Bears 199-137 in the first half. Thomas sweeps right and gains 6. From the shotgun, Stewart completes a pass to Terrell for 5 and that's a first down at the Green Bay 46. Thomas is stuffed for no gain on first down again. Thomas carries up the middle and loses a yard. Stewart's third-down pass in deflected and picked off by Mike McKenzie. Packers will start near midfield. Stewart really took a shot there.
Favre finds Ferguson, who slips Mike Green and is taken down by McQuarters at the Bears' 40. Green runs for a few and then Ferguson makes another play, catching a short pass and picking up 13 yards to the 22. Running back Tony Fisher catches a ball out of the backfield for 4 yards before taking a shot from Holdman. Davenport runs on second down for no gain. How many running backs do the Packers have? Third and short gets nothing and Longwell comes on to kick a field goal, giving the Packers their first lead of the day.
Packers 16, Bears 14
The Bears will get going at their own 27. Apparently the wave is just making its way to Green Bay. Stewart is nearly sacked on first down and Thomas gets no where on second. Stewart throws behind Booker and we've got a punt coming.
OK, here we go. Packers will start things off at their own 37 and Green fumbles the handoff and falls on it. Favre rolls right and hits Walker for an 8-yard gain. Favre throws one up-for-grabs way downfield. Tillman breaks it up but fellow rookie Michael Haynes is called for rouging Favre--15 yards. That gives the Pack new life at the Bears 35. Green picks up a couple but the Packers are whistled for holding and backwards they go. Favre side-arms one to Ferguson for about 9 yards. But another hold takes them back to the 45. This drive is like a yo-yo. And back we go, Favre hits Ferguson for 18, but it's not enough for the first. Longwell on to kick a 45-yard field goal and that puts the Packers up 5.
Packers 19, Bears 14
The Bears haven't done much on offense since early in the first quarter. A colleague tells me since that 60-yarder to Booker, they've gained 33 yards on offense. Not good. Azumah is nailed at the 19. Making matters worse the Vikings are up 27-7 on Seattle. And on this note, the third quarter comes to a close.
Forsey is stuffed to open the fourth. At this rate Forsey may lose all those yards he gained last week. Stewart rolls right, bounces off a few guys and picks up the first. Nice play. Stewart then hits Booker for another first but is nearly sacked on second down barely managing to throw it away. Stewart lofts one up to Dez White, who makes a great leaping catch at the Green Bay 38. Guy makes all the spectacular catches but can't catch the simples ones. Forsey stuffed again but Stewart finds Desmond Clark up the middle to set up third-and-2 at the 30. Stewart hits Booker in stride over the middle for the first. Stanley Pritchett gets his first carry, for 2 yards. Big Ol' Gilbert Brown tips the ball at the line. Stewart tries to throw an out to White but McKenzie steps in front of it at the 10 and takes it back all the way. Can you say Jim Harbaugh? Where's Ditka? That's a crusher. Stewart looked quite sharp on that drive and then commits a cardinal sin. What's worse, he got blocked twice chasing McKenzie. Cue the Pac Man dying sound effect. This one's over. Pack goes for two and gets it and the crowd adds a new twist to an old chant with "Bears still suck!"
Packers 27, Bears 14
Hey, apparently Quiet Riot just making it up here. Haven't heard this one since 1983. Excellent. Defensive end Joe Tafoya returns his second kick of the day. I guarantee he's never had two kick returns in a game at any level. The crowd just booed the Vikings highlights they showed on the big screen.
The Bears might as well take a knee at this point. Stewart hits Justin Gage for 28 yards with a nicely thrown ball. Perhaps this isn't over yet. Perhaps. Stewart throws it away and is called for intentional grounding. Perhaps the latest call ever in the history of the league. So, of course, John Shoop calls Dez White's number on that wide-receiver screen that has yet to net any yards. White can't make a guy miss and doesn't there. Third-and-14. Stewart throws behind Booker and Maynard trots out.
The Bears get the ball back and start one last drive but Desmond Clark fumbles at the Green Bay 35 and the Packers recover. The Packers fail to move the ball and punt.
After the Packers punt, Bears take over at their own 10. Stewart throws three straight incompletions. On 4th down, he is sacked at the 1. No choice there. Had to go for it. The Vikings won today so the Bears are officially eliminated from the playoffs. Rex Grossman next week?
The Packers lose a yard on first down and then Ahman Green scores from the 2.
Packers 34, Bears 14
On the ensuing kickoff, Jerry Azumah goes 88 yards for a TD. Figures, when the game is out of reach. Wow.
Packers 34, Bears 21
Packers recover the onside kick and then run one play at we're at the two-minute warning. Green Bay runs three more plays and they are short of the first. Bears take over with 1:07 left at the their own 45. Stewart is forced to run and gets to the Packers 40. On 2nd down, Stewart throws one incomplete near the 20. Stewart hits Terrell for no gain. A completion to Abdullah for about 5 and it's 4th down. Another incomplete pass, the Packers take a knee and this one is over folks. Time to look ahead to 2004.
Final: Packers 34, Bears 21