Some things never change.
The Bears did everything necessary Sunday early to beat Green Bay, from containing quarterback Brett Favre and the Packers' Ahman Green, to causing turnovers, to controlling the clock on offense and taking advantage of scoring opportunities. In the end, they still found strange and mysterious new ways to lose, 30-20.
"It's like one thing happens after another," quarterback Jim Miller said.
The Bears turned the ball over on four consecutive possessions in the second and third quarters to give the Packers a chance to take command after falling behind 14-3.
"You're not going to beat any team in the NFL, let alone a team with Brett Favre on their side, when you have four offensive turnovers," offensive coordinator John Shoop said.
Bears cornerback Roosevelt Williams was racing up-field with a chance to give the Bears a 21-6 halftime lead on a fumble return with an escort from R.W. McQuarters, but somehow got tracked down from behind by wide receiver Javon Walker. From that point the Bears plunged straight into a pit that led to their ninth loss in 12 games.
"I'm not sure I've ever seen one exactly like that," coach Dick Jauron said of Williams' fumble return.
The rookie had scooped up a loose ball after Bears safety Damon Moore had made an interception and return, lost it on a fumble and Packers lineman Mike Flanagan scooped it up and fumbled it. Williams had run from the back of the end zone on the play and then across the field and appeared to tire out. McQuarters didn't bother to hit Walker and failed to slow him enough to prevent a tackle from behind at the 13 to end the half.
"It was a huge point in the game if he scored for them," Walker said. It ended up a big play of us. It motivated us going in to the half."
"I had a chance to score a touchdown, make a great play and I didn't do it," Williams said. "I'll just have to keep chugging and learn from it."
If Javon Walker did not give up, neither did Packers defensive tackle Rod Walker.
After Green Bay had cut the Bear's lead to 14-13 on Favre's 6-yard third-quarter TD pass to tight end Bubba Franks, the Bears got into position to take a 21-13 lead.
Miller, who completed 25-of-36 for 191 yards, threw a 23-yard pass to Marty Booker in the end zone which officials ruled incomplete. However, pass interference against Tyrone Williams gave the Bears the ball at the Packers' 1.
Instead of running the next play, the Bears challenged the incomplete ruling because Booker told Jauron he'd made the catch. Replay failed to provide conclusive evidence, and after about a five-minute delay the Bears attempted to run the ball off right tackle. But before Miller actually pulled out the snap from center Olin Kreutz, Walker had stuck his hand across the line of scrimmage and knocked the ball free, then recovered it at the 2.
"The center stretched the ball out a little more than usual," countered Walker. "And I saw motion from the side, so I had the feeling it (the count) would be on one. I just took a chance and tried to swipe at the ball after the center attempted to snap it.
"I got a piece of it and then just landed on top of it."
From there, the Packers went on a 90-yard march to Ryan Longwell's third field goal of the day, a 27-yarder for a 16-14 Green Bay lead.
The turnovers continued with Miller throwing one to Williams at the Packers' 45 on the next series. The streak, which started with Leon Johnson's fumble on a draw play 26 seconds before halftime, concluded in disastrous fashion when Dez White lost a fumble early in the fourth quarter to Antwuan Edwards at the Bears' 35.
"We did a pretty good job against Favre," cornerback R. W. McQuarters said. "One of the most disappointing things was all the rushing yards they got.
"That hurt us more than anything."
It wasn't Packers leading rusher Ahman Green doing the damage, as Mike Brown had knocked him out of the game on a hit. Instead, it was backup Tony Fisher piling up 91 yards on 17 carries, including a 2-yarder with 1:14 remaining to lock up the win.
"If you stop one dimension and let the other dimension beat you, you're still beat," defensive coordinator Greg Blache said. "It's like if you get hit by a bus or you get hit by a train -- you're dead. You're dead, that's all there is to it, still dead."
The Bears were dead for all intents and purposes, but did cut the deficit to 30-20 on Henry Burris' Hail Mary, 45-yard jump ball toss to Marcus Robinson.
A game they had started so strongly had degenerated into defeat, overshadowing an 8-yard TD pass from Miller to tight end Dustin Lyman for a 14-3 lead and a neat fake field goal TD on a 12-yard shovel pass from holder Brad Maynard to Lyman in the first quarter.
The five turnovers had led to their ninth loss in 12 games while the Packers clinched the division title.
"That's the NFL," Miller said. "To be a winning football team, we need to rectify that. It has been the story this whole year."
The Packers would say that in recent years it's been the Bears' story every time they meet.