Bears Just About Perfect, Paste the Packers

If head coach Lovie Smith went to bed Saturday night dreaming about a perfect outcome to the season-opener in Green Bay, that dream probably looked an awful lot like what actually happened on the field Sunday afternoon. The Bears drilled Brett Favre and the Packers 26-0 at Lambeau Field and made a statement that they are once again the team to beat in the NFC North.

Brett Favre has done just about everything in his NFL career, but until Sunday, he had never been the victim of a shutout. The Bears were more than happy to cross that dubious distinction off his list with a 26-0 pasting of the Packers at Lambeau Field.

Quarterback Rex Grossman found wide receiver Bernard Berrian for a 49-yard touchdown pass on the opening drive. It would be the Bears' only offensive touchdown of the day, but Chicago continued to move the ball well enough to keep the game largely out of Favre's hands.

Even when the Packers did have the ball, they didn't do very much with it.

Favre, who deliberated for several months before deciding to return to the Packers after a 4-12 season, threw only five passes in the first half. He completed all five of them but for only 70 yards.

The Bears had 236 yards of total offense in the first half compared to only 103 for the Packers.

Back for his 16th season, Favre and the Packers opened up the offense in the second half. But they couldn't get the ball in the end zone as both Charles Tillman and rookie Danieal Manning came up with interceptions in the fourth quarter.

Favre, who threw led the league with 29 interceptions last season, finished the game 15-of-29 for 170 yards.

Grossman has been limited by injuries to only seven regular-season starts in his previous three NFL seasons, but he seems to have no problem outdueling Favre at Lambeau Field when healthy.

Grossman was 18-of-26 for 262 yards as he ran his career record to 3-0 on the Packers' home turf.

On the Bears' sixth play from scrimmage, Grossman reared back and heaved a deep pass to Berrian, who caught it in stride for a 49-yard touchdown.

After the Packers went three-and-out with three straight running plays to Ahman Green, Grossman threw into triple coverage and was picked off by linebacker Nick Barnett on the next series.

Green, who missed 11 games with a torn quardriceps last season, carried 20 times for 110 yards.

Grossman and the Bears kept moving the ball with downfield passing plays, including five catches for 77 yards by tight end Desmond Clark. Kicker Robbie Gould took advantage and was perfect on four field goal attempts.

The Packers offense reached Bears territory only twice in the first half. They turned the ball over on a failed quarterback sneak by Favre early in the second quarter, and the half ended on a missed 53-yard field goal attempt by Dave Rayner.

The Packers' final drive of the half was extended by a successful fake punt, as punter Jon Ryan threw to Noah Herron for 16 yards, one of the Packers' few successful pass plays in the first half.

The Bears scored their second touchdown on an 84-yard punt return by Devin Hester, giving the Bears a 26-0 lead early in the fourth quarter.

It was the Bears' first shutout since a victory at Detroit on Dec. 30, 2001.

The loss ruined the debut of new Packers coach Mike McCarthy, hired after the team fired Mike Sherman.

It was the first time the Packers were shut out since a 10-0 victory by the Bears on Oct. 17, 1991, a streak of 233 games. It was the fourth-longest such streak in league history and second-longest active streak. The Minnesota Vikings have not been shut out in 236 games.

JC


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