One too many times to the well

The Bears' passing attack enjoyed the first laugh at the expense of Green Bay Packers cornerback Mike McKenzie. <P> McKenzie laughed quite a bit after that, and it included the last and best laugh in Sunday's 34-21 Packer win.

Bears offensive coordinator John Shoop and quarterback Kordell Stewart played a cat-and-mouse game all day with McKenzie and it paid dividends with a first-quarter 61-yard touchdown bomb that helped lead to Booker's first 100-yard receiving day of 2003.

Yet McKenzie made three big plays later that proved the Bears' undoing, including the game-deciding interception return of 90 yards.

On Booker's 61-yard strike, Shoop said the Bears were planning to throw to Justin Gage.

"As it turned out, Kordell made a fantastic read," Shoop said. "McKenzie tries to jump pass routes and we took advantage of that."

McKenzie thought the play was going shorter and waited to jump the pass route. Booker went deep and was wide open behind.

"He likes to do that," Shoop said of McKenzie.

The Bears found that out in the fourth quarter.

McKenzie gambled, staying put and jumping a pass route the Bears' Dez White ran near the 10. White had run a post route against Arizona and San Diego in a similar situation. He came across the middle, and the Bears thought McKenzie would anticipate this. So they had White stay near the sideline.

"We knew they were taking shots and figured they were going to try to pick up the first down," McKenzie said. "They threw a pass out to the flat and I made the play."

McKenzie refused to bite and was waiting for the ball, resulting in the game-deciding touchdown on a 90-yard interception return.

"McKenzie did a nice job reading the quarterbacks' drop and squatted on it and that's one we wish we all had back," Shoop said. "We certainly wanted a first down. McKenzie is an excellent player at reading routes. Knowing that he's a guy who reads routes real well, we were anticipating him jumping the post a little. As it turned out he read right through it."

McKenzie was in the right place in the third quarter when he intercepted a ball that deflected off Booker's hands. In the second quarter, he was involved in a play that left Gage shaking his head.

Gage got flagged for his second offensive pass interference penalty in two games. This one negated a 26-yard catch to the Packers' 31 two minutes before the end of the half with the Bears up 14-13.

"I thought it was a bad call," Gage said. "There was no contact. There was contact at the line of scrimmage. That's part of the game. It was a lost play, a penalty against us. I feel that it hurt our momentum, hurt our drive.

"There's nothing we can do about it."

Gage had one other play in which he could have emerged a hero on that same drive. Stewart threw deep to the end zone for Gage from the Packers' 48 with McKenzie trailing. Gage lunged, and the ball bounced off his hands for an incompletion.

"Kordell did a great job throwing the ball, perfect ball, everything," Gage said. "I had a shot at it and I didn't come up with it, so that was a lost play right there."

In the second half, the Packers' secondary changed tactics and cut off the deep ball.

"They started sending their coverage back deeper to take away the deep balls and they just played hard, they stuck to their game plan," Gage said. "We started struggling a little bit, and having penalties, which hurt us. It just unfolded nasty."

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