"OK guys, here's the plan:

"R-Dub, you flagrantly lie to reporters that team doctors have said you won't be ready to play until after the off week. Throw in how you can run all right but not really cut that well.

"Phillip, you look like you're near tears after coming off the practice field on Monday, say your ankle feels a little better Wednesday and on Thursday reiterate that you won't even give it a try on Monday night at anything less than 90 percent efficiency.

"Meanwhile, we'll all lie about both of you doing only limited work in practice all week and lay it on extra thick about how capable Reggie Austin, Todd McMillon and Keith McKenzie are as your replacements.

"Break."

Surely it wasn't as crafty as Booker-to-Urlacher-to-Mannelly, but the Bears double-reverse McQuarters-Daniels injury fakeout Monday night did have one thing in common with the Bears' second-quarter fake field-goal attempt. It reeked of desperation.

If you can't beat your biggest rival in the conventional way, there's always the old pretend-your-best-players-are-hurt-worse-than-they-are routine.

Now maybe if Warrick Holdman had jogged out for pregame introductions, we'd be impressed.

Dick Jauron, who was "celebrating" his 52nd birthday Monday, has always said he would gladly lie if he thought it was in the best interest of his football team, and apparently the Bears coach figured correctly that his team could use any edge it could get.

"I didn't notice them not making plays, but I'll have to study the tape," said Jauron of Daniels and McQuarters in as backhanded a compliment as they come. "Clearly, it didn't turn the game for us."

As it happens, maybe McQuarters wasn't fibbing. He certainly looked limited, though he wasn't the only one in the Bears' secondary, which appeared for most of this endless night as if it were missing at least two or three players.

By 13:02 of the second quarter of the Packers eventual 34-21 victory, Brett Favre had thrown for 228 yards, the Packers had built a 21-7 lead and Al Michaels and John Madden had used the word "shredded" half a dozen times.

By then, the Bears had a pretty good idea that they were not going to be able to stop Favre defensively and weren't going to outscore him offensively and opted for a trick field goal that actually made Brian Urlacher look silly.

Give Jauron credit. Wide receiver-to-middle linebacker-to-long snapper may not be as original as Fridge up the middle, but it did have potential. Much better than sneaking Daniels and McQuarters into the lineup.

The Packers were so thrown by that ploy, they went directly at McQuarters and the Bears briefly replaced Daniels with rookie Alex Brown.

Of course it's possible the dark-on-dark uniforms made the Bears look slower than they really are, but more than likely it was Favre's arm that was responsible.

Informed in the second quarter that Favre was approaching the 40,000 yards for his career, there was some brief confusion in the press box that Favre had amassed that much in the first half.

It certainly seemed like that, anyway, as the Packers quarterback, in eating up the Bears for the 17th time in 21 games and passing for 287 yards and three touchdowns in the first half alone, made his team look like Green Bay of the mid-'90s.

That is, of course, the magic of Favre, that even in the worst of times for the Packers, he has elevated all those around him. How they only led by 17 at the end of three quarters Monday night was somehow a blessing for the Bears, who must have had an inkling of what was in store for them, hence the decision to use McQuarters and Daniels as a motivational tool.

The best McQuarters looked was on a deep pass by Favre in the second quarter that he knocked away, lest he'd have been beaten by Javon Walker by a good three yards for a sure touchdown.

"I don't know if I was rested, but my conditioning is pretty good," McQuarters said. "But we lost, so I guess everybody played bad. Even if it wasn't Monday night, I felt I was ready to go."

You could only hope that Daniels was less than 90 percent efficiency and simply felt he had to play as he got pinched on Ahman Green's 43-yard run in the closing seconds of the third quarter, a play Daniels has made a living on.

"I have two weeks to heal now," said Daniels, admitting he was definitely not tip-top. "I just felt it was time to give it a try."

You almost felt sorry for him, felt sorry for them in being so thoroughly outplayed until Austin and Jerry Azumah managed one last-gasp sack of Favre in the fourth quarter, then wildly congratulated themselves as if they had actually accomplished something.

Alas, like everything else Monday night, that, too, was an illusion.