Bears Fail to Capitalize on Opportunities

Missed opportunities cost the Bears their 7th straight win and a two game lead in the division. Chicago made another late attempt at a 4th quarter comeback, but the team couldn't duplicate their efforts from the previous two weeks.

Trailing 20-12 with 4:18 left the Bears took over with one more chance to tie the game and go into overtime for the third consecutive week. However, the bounces didn't go Chicago's way. After converting a fourth and 3 earlier on the drive Chicago was faced with a 4th and 4 at the Packer 15. Green Bay blitzed leaving Miller to go with his hot receiver, which was James Allen coming out the backfield, but the running back was not able to repeat his late game heroics from a week ago. Giving the Packers their eighth straight win at Soldier Field.

The Bears took the lead on the opening drive of the game thanks to Anthony Thomas. The "A-Train" touched the ball on Chicago's first six plays (5 runs and 1 reception) totaling 43 yards. Marty Booker came up with two first down receptions, which moved the ball inside the Packer 20. Green Bay concentrated their defensive effort on Thomas and stuffed him six yards behind the line of scrimmage. The Bears weren't able to overcome the negative play and settled for a Paul Edinger 37-yard field goal putting them up 3-0.

The Bears dominated the first quarter holding the ball over 11 minutes. The defense quickly gave their counterparts the ball back in good field position. Brett Favre rolled out of the pocket on 3rd and 10 and instead of throwing the ball away he tried to make something happen. Mike Brown leaped into the air and came down with the ball just inbounds. The interception was Brown's 4th of the year and Favre's 10th.

With the ball at the Packer 41 the Bears had a chance to put some distance between them and their rival. After converting on a 3rd and 3 the Bears offense got conservative. Thomas was stopped for a yard loss and then on 2nd and 3rd down short pass plays resulted in nothing. Edinger was called on again, but this time he received a little help on his 47-yard attempt into the wind. His kick hit the crossbar and bounced over giving the Bears a 6-0 lead with 1:27 left in the first quarter.

The Packers ran only 6 plays in the quarter to the Bears 19, but Chicago was unable to make a big play.

"In my opinion, it came down to a number of big plays. I thought they made them and we didn't," said Dick Jauron. "We didn't make enough plays to win the game, certainly (not) enough chunks of yardage on offense."

A Bears mistake led to the Packers first score of the game. The seldom used Daimon Shelton made an ankle catch and turned up field towards the first down maker, but in his extra effort he was hit by Darren Sharper, who caused a fumble, recovered by Bernardo Harris just inside Bear territory.

Ahman Green's eight-yard run for a first down put the Packers within field goal range. Favre wasn't able to connect with tight end Bubba Franks on 3rd and short, which brought Ryan Longwell on for a 40-yard attempt. His kick cut the Bears lead to 6-3 with 9:33 left in the half. Green Bay put their offense right back on the field after forcing the Bears into a three and out. Favre, who made his 149th consecutive start extending his own NFL record, started to heat up. He completed passes of 17, 15 and 13 on the drive bringing the Packers to the Bears 15. However, Keith Traylor forced Green to fumble, which Ted Washington recovered preserving Chicago's lead for the moment.

The Packers defense continued to key on the Bears rookie running back. On a 3rd and 2 situation Thomas got the ball on a toss, but Green Bay read the play and stuffed it for a 6-yard loss.

"They adjusted and said the ‘A-Train' is not going to beat us," said Bears center Olin Kreutz. "They brought their safeties up, number 36 and 42 were all over the place. So, they made a lot of plays on us. We've got to prepare for those kind of things. A-train is that type of player (teams game plan for) and try to stop him."

"They were disguising (their coverage)," said Dez White, who had seven receptions for 45 yards. "They were bringing corners, they were bringing all kind of blitzes. You know I think it might have caught us off guard a little bit. It wasn't predictable you couldn't exactly know when it was coming or how it was coming, but it was coming from somewhere every time and they were doing a good job of putting pressure on Jim (Miller)."

A 55-yard punt by Brad Maynard left Favre and company with 2:08 left before the half, which turned out to be more than enough time for the three-time MVP.

A generous spot on 3rd and 5 gave the Packers a first down at the Bears 44. Two plays later Favre found Bill Schroeder wide open in the back of the endzone for a 41 yard score. Tony Parrish had deep help on coverage by Walt Harris, but there was a breakdown leaving the Packer receiver uncovered.

"That was one of the mistakes on my part," said Walt Harris. "It was underneath coverage, it went down the field I should have been there to help Tony (Parrish) out on the play, but for some reason I came off of it and he threw it." With 55 seconds left in the half Green Bay took the lead 10-6 and would never relinquish it.

The Bears were able to cut the lead to 10-9 before halftime thanks to Edinger's third field goal. With all of their timeouts Chicago took over on their 40 with 37 seconds left on the game clock. A halfback pass moved the Bears into field goal range. Leon Johnson completed an 18-yard pass to Marty Booker moving the ball to the 24 with 15 seconds left. Chicago couldn't make any further progress and settled for a 38-yard field goal by Edinger to end the half at 10-9.

The two teams traded punts to open the second half. On the Packers second drive Favre found the rhythm he had late in the first half. He completed consecutive passes to Schroeder for 23 and 19 yards, which put Green Bay at the Chicago 32. On a 3rd and one Favre scrambled around and when it looked like there were no open receivers he threw off his back foot hitting fullback William Henderson for a 14-yard gain. Two plays later Antonio Freeman caught a 9-yard pass from Favre for the score giving the visitors a 17-9 lead with 7:05 left in the third quarter.

Again, the Bears struck back on the following drive. The ground game continued to struggle, but Anthony Thomas contributed as a receiver. He caught a short dump off from Miller and turned it into a 20-yard gain as he broke several tackles. Then on 3rd and 5 Miller went to tight end Fred Baxter for 12 yards and a first down. On 3rd and 8 Miller felt pressure from the Green Bay defensive line and fumbled as a result. Although, he recovered the ball the play resulted in a 7-yard loss forcing the Bears to go for yet another field goal. Edinger hit his fourth field goal of the game this time from 41 yards out. The Packers lead was cut to 17-12 with 3:58 left in the third quarter.

Chicago's defense forced Green Bay into a three and out, thus giving the ball back to the offense. The Bears moved the ball to midfield after a 9-yard gain from Thomas. He was stopped for no gain on second down leaving 3rd and 1 as the quarter ended. Coming into the final quarter the Bears were in position for another fourth period comeback. However, John Shoop was conservative earlier in the game, gambled in a short yardage situation calling for Marty Booker to run a reverse. The play was blown up in the backfield for a four-yard loss, which forced Chicago to punt.

The call was puzzling as Booker had just limped off the field at the end of the 3rd quarter after blocking on a Thomas run. Shoop said that if he could take one play back it would be Booker's end around.

The momentum seemed to go back to the Pack with the stop. Favre was able to convert a 3rd and 13. He floated the ball over the head of Warrick Holdman completing a 31-yard pass to Freeman. He then found Henderson out of the backfield for 24 more yards bringing the ball to the Bears' 14. The defense stood its ground, but Longwell's second field goal of the day gave his team a 20-12 lead. The 31-yard attempt came with 9:10 left to play.

The teams traded punts, which gave the Bears one last chance to tie the game with 4:18 left and two timeouts.

Starting at their 20, Chicago began to move down the field. Miller found Booker cutting across the field. The receiver gained 25 yards before he was pushed out of bounds. Miller completed a six-yard pass to White for a first down on 3rd and 5. Then on 3rd and 7 Miller went to Baxter, but as the ball fell incomplete the Packers rookie defensive back, Bhawoh Jue, was called for pass interference giving the Bears another set of downs. Miller came through on 4th down and three completing a three-yard pass to Booker. The clock continued to run and as it went under one minute the Bears ran James Allen on a draw up the middle for six yards (to the 15-yard line). The offense hurried to the line of scrimmage and Miller spiked the ball with 44 seconds left. On third down Miller threw incomplete to White setting up 4th and four. The Packers sent two on a blitz forcing Miller to roll right out of the pocket. He threw to an open Allen, but the running back lost the ball in the sun and could not come up with the ball. "I couldn't really see it," Allen said. "I lost it in the sun, if I could have just seen it a little bit (earlier)."

The Bears loss drops them to 6-2 and into a tie with the Packers for first place in the Central division. Chicago will finish the year with five of their last eight games on the road including six games against divisional opponents.

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