Player Perspective

What should have been a joyful inauguration of the new Soldier Field quickly turned instead to a debacle of near epic proportions as a listless Bear squad fell to the <!--Default NodeId For Green Bay Packers is 114,2003--><A HREF=>Green Bay Packers</A> by a score of 38-23.

What went wrong, exactly? Just about everything. Penalties, dropped passes, and a porous defense enabled the Packers to run roughshod over the Bears almost from the opening kickoff. As fan enthusiasm quickly gave way to dismay, increasing numbers of boos could be heard spreading throughout the seats.

The hometown crowd was taken out of the game early as Green Bay scored two touchdowns and a field goal before the end of the first quarter. The crowd rallied to the Bears cause briefly and sporadically in the second, third and fourth quarters as the Chicago team was able to bring the score slightly closer to the Packers ever increasing lead. The hoped for home field noise advantage instead became a clear message to Chicago players that they were not living up to expectations.

On paper the Bears didn't fare badly, and there were some slight signs of progress for the offensive side of the ball. For the first time this season, the Bears had possession more than their opponent, with the Bears totaling 32:29 to the Packers 27:31. Rushing and passing yards for Chicago were nearly equal, indicating a better balance than had been achieved up to this point.

But there was still a lack of execution in the red zone and plays were often puzzling and relatively ineffective. A series of dropped passes and missed routes by the Bears was troubling and indicated that more was amiss than what would have been caused solely by a strong Packer defense.

The Bears defense, conversely, line never posed a significant threat, leading Brian Urlacher to admit to "profound embarrassment" after the game.

Brett Favre was anything but embarrassed as he continued his winning streak away against the Bears. Always cool and in complete control, he seemed to have plenty of time in the pocket to make decisions. Favre was never sacked and rarely blitzed. Although the Bears had earmarked Ahman Green, one of Favre's favorite targets, as the man to watch, but the only thing they saw was him running past the them as the back totaled 173 yards on the ground.

As the game progressed, Bears faithful became increasingly vocal in their displeasure.

"It's always hard when you hear boos," said Ahmad Merritt, whose evening could be described as relatively unproductive and undoubtedly frustrating. "You try to shut it out while you are on the field, but at some level you are always aware of it. No player wants to experience that when you are playing at home."

But Merritt also was well aware of the fans high expectations as well as their frustration in seeing their team go down to their hated rival.

"I can certainly understand the fans disappointment," he said. "It was a very important night for the City of Chicago. This was the first game in our new stadium. It was a Monday Night Game, and of course, we were playing the Packers. Believe me when I say that we wanted to win just as much as the fans wanted to see us win. They were frustrated with us. We were frustrated with us as well. We're going to go back to Halas Hall and correct these mistakes. We don't plan to quit and we hope that the fans don't quit on us, either."

Merritt's discouragement also stemmed from the team coming off a bye and two strong weeks of practice.

"It's difficult to figure this all out," he said. "We have been working very hard. Execution of plays has been excellent. Then, when we got to the field tonight, everything fell apart. It wasn't a matter of one thing or two not turning out well. It was more that everything that could go wrong did, and quickly."

Where the Bears go from here and how they plan to regroup is anyone's guess, but time seems to be running out as they reach the beginning of October with a record of 0-4.

"We never planned for this to happen when we started the season," Merritt said. "It's a complete shock. We're a good team when we go out and make those plays that we should be making. We're confident enough. We have the talent to compete with any team in the league. I think that every player is going to have to do a little soul searching and try to come up with a solution. This needs to be fixed. Now."

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