CHAMPAIGN—Coach Dick Jauron was asked last week why Green Bay Packers had dominated the Bears over the last decade. Jauron answered politely that he thought the Packers' superiority seemed to coincide nicely with the arrival of Brett Favre.
The Favre Decade continued Monday night, with the future Hall of Fame quarterback methodically dismembering the Bears in a 34-21 Packers win, the 15th in the last 17 games between the NFC North rivals.
Favre needed 262 yards to become the third-fastest quarterback in NFL history to reach 40,000 passing yards. He had most of that in the first half (188) as the Packers outgained the Bears 327 to 85, and Favre had 359 for the game.
"There were too many missed opportunities, and against a team as good as the Packers, you can't do that," Jauron said.
The disaster ran deeper than just one game. The Bears (2-3) now trail the Packers (4-1) in both the standings and tiebreaker, should a playoff berth be at issue. It may not be. After their week off, the Bears play division games at Detroit and Minnesota before a visit from the Philadelphia Eagles. The Bears have never rallied from a two-game hole to win a division title.
The defeat was the Bears' third straight, the first time that has happened since mid-2000, and that was with Cade McNown as the starting quarterback. The last time they lost four straight was the start of that season, also with McNown. The only time since 1994 when the Bears haven't had at least a three-game losing streak in a season was last year, when they never lost consecutive games.
The Bears gave themselves a last chance when receiver David Terrell caught a 52-yard Jim Miller pass to put the ball at the Green Bay 7 with less than three minutes remaining and the score 34-21. But Miller's pass to Anthony Thomas was intercepted in the end zone and the Packers ran out the remaining seconds.
Thomas was supposed to have run the route near the back of the end zone but was by the goal line when Miller fired the ball and it went through his hands and into those of Packers linebacker Nate Wayne.
"We just made too many mistakes to overcome," Miller said. "Good teams overcome mistakes but not as many as we're making."
The offense declared it would commit to running the ball. Thomas remained mired with his 3.0-yard average, lowest among starting NFC running backs. Even the pass protection, the best in the NFL, broke down, with left tackle Bernard Robertson giving up a sack to defensive end Joe Johnson in the third quarter. The ball popped up in the air where it was collected by end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, who had sacked Miller on the previous play, and returned 72 yards for a touchdown.
The Bears went for an emotional boost early, with Hall of Fame defensive lineman Dan Hampton addressing the team, then sending injured defensive end Phillip Daniels and cornerback R.W. McQuarters out as surprise starters. It didn't help against Favre.
After the Bears stopped the Packers on the game's first possession, Favre took advantage of both Daniels and McQuarters early and with devastating effect. Daniels went on a designed inside rush and wasn't able to pull back outside as Favre to circled outside the pass rush and waited while Donald Driver ran past McQuarters and safety Mike Green. Favre hit Driver in stride at the Chicago 20 and Driver finished the play for his fifth touchdown in five games.
The play was Favre's longest touchdown pass since his 99-yard scoring throw Sept. 11, 1995 against to Robert Brooks. That play, an NFL record, also came at the expense of a Bears cornerback wearing No. 21, Donnell Woolford.
Favre picked the Bears apart in a more traditional Favre dismemberment, using 10 plays to cover 76 yards and finished with a 19-yard pass to backup tight end Tyrone Davis.
The drive included five plays of 13 yards or longer as the Bears managed to get the Packers in only one third down, that of 13 yards, and Favre converted that with a delayed pass to running back Ahman Green into the wide-open middle of the Bears' defense.
Davis handed the Bears the opportunity for an answering score when he flipped the ball up in the air in what officials deemed a taunt of safety Mike Brown, who bounced off Davis after the catch. The resulting penalty forced the Packers to kick from their 15 and Leon Johnson returned the kickoff 35 yards, his longest runback of the season, giving the Bears the ball at the Green Bay 37.