Bears' Lose Emotional Contest in Green Bay

GREEN BAY, Wis. — The Bears' frustration point reached its highest level Sunday in a place where it has so often in the past. Their 17-7 loss to the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field came in a game played exactly the way they wanted — a field-position war emphasizing the ground game. The Packers just did it better than they did.

``Obviously it was a pretty frustrating day,'' Bears quarterback Jim Miller understated after the offense struggled for the second time this year against Green Bay and managed only 189 net yards, their lowest total since the season-opener.

The frustration bubbled over in the form of verbal barrages taken by Bears defensive players at offensive coordinator John Shoop late in the first half along the sidelines following linebacker Brian Urlacher's 41-yard return with an interception to Green Bay's 17. They urged the offense to ``do something,'' in different terms.

But quarterback Jim Miller overthrew wideout David Terrell on two fade patterns to the corner from the 5-yard line and the Bears came away with nothing when Paul Edinger missed a 23-yard field goal. More frustration.

``We couldn't do anything. We embarrassed ourselves offensively,'' center Olin Kreutz said. Now the Bears are 9-3, tied with the Packers and essentially behind because of two losses to Green Bay. They're still hoping to hold together a widening chasm between their offense and defense that became evident with the bickering.

``There was some talk out there,'' coach Dick Jauron insisted. ``Was it a problem? No. It's not a problem -- just routine stuff, very competitive people, everybody, coaches and players. Everybody wants to win. Everybody was really up for this game. We just didn't get it done.''

The Bears' defense had little reason to yap since they could be included in Jauron's list of those who failed to get it done.

Packers quarterback Brett Favre was his usual effective self, delivering with a game-opening, nine-play 64-yard drive and 3-yard TD pass to Antonio Freeman. Then Favre let running back Ahman Green do the damage to a Bears run defense which had gone 20 games without allowing a 100-yard rushing effort by a back.

Green rushed for 125 yards on 29 carries, the most allowed by the Bears since Minnesota's Robert Smith gained 170 against them Oct. 15, 2000.

``They ran through us,'' Urlacher said. ``I don't know how many yards he had, but I know they had a bunch of big plays and they just ran the ball and we didn't stop them.''

Extensively using misdirection plays; Green rushed for big yardage in the second half after the Bears had tied the game on a 19-yard, third-quarter Anthony Thomas TD run.

Green broke a 29-yard run off right tackle to the Bears' 24 with 4:38 remaining in the third quarter, then capped a 91-yard TD drive four plays later with a 12-yard run off the left side for the go-ahead score.

``That is our goal every week — to get that type of rushing output,'' Packers coach Mike Sherman said. ``We ran the ball well against them last time — Ahman had 93 yards — so we felt confident in our run game.

``We were not surprised that we were able to run the football as well as we did. We went into the game thinking we were going to run the football.''

After a Darren Sharper interception provided the Packers the ball, running back Dorsey Levens gained 17 yards around left end early in the fourth quarter to set up a Ryan Longwell 27-yard field goal and a 10-point cushion. As a team, the Packers rushed for 167 yards on 36 attempts.

``Our front five, they basically controlled the game for us,'' said Favre, who completed 15-of-27 for 202 yards.

The Bears wanted a game de-emphasizing Favre's passing but emphasizing the running attacks and field position and got exactly that. Punter Brad Maynard supplied the field position with a phenomenal six punts inside the Packers' 20-yard line.

The game turned when the Bears' offense failed to do anything with perfect field position in the third quarter.

They took over on the Packers' 45 after a shanked Josh Bidwell punt, but went out in four plays. Maynard pinned the Packers back to their 1 with a 31-yard punt, but the Bears' offense came off the field again in five plays. So Maynard punted to the 9 and the Packers drove 91 yards to the go-ahead score.

``You've got great field position and, again, we didn't take advantage of it,'' said Miller, who threw 33 passes, completing 18 for only 139 yards. ``We shoot ourselves in the foot with penalties and things of that nature.

``Again, we've just got to get it in the end zone — find a way. It doesn't matter how it's done. We've got to find a way to do it.''

The Bears had five possessions without a first down and six more with just one first down. They wound up in third-and-five or longer eight times and converted one into a first down. In short yardage they weren't much better, converting 1-of-4 on third-and-three or less.

``We had some third-and-comfortable situations and we certainly didn't get it done,'' Shoop said. ``When I say we, I mean everybody. We've got to run better, we've got to throw it better, we've got to catch better and I've got to call it better.''

After two frustrating efforts against the Packers, they remain tied and have Tampa Bay at home, Washington and Detroit on the road and Jacksonville at home. Green Bay closes at Tennessee next week, at home with Cleveland and Minnesota and at the Giants.

``We're still in a strong position. We still control a lot of our future,'' Shoop said. ``We're going to set our jaw and we're going to be better next week.''

Defensive coordinator Greg Blache anticipated something like this.

``This was a playoff atmosphere. We knew that coming in,'' he said. ``This is the first time a lot of our young guys have been in a game with playoff implications on the road against a real good football team.

``There was a lot of money on the table and they (the Packers) played to the money. They let their experience and their strength show. Hopefully our guys will learn from it. We'll see these guys down the road before this year is over.''

Whether they're all working together as a unit from here on out or splitting apart from internal bickering will determine if it happens.


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