Effort was there, result was not

Coming off a blowout victory and with their decadelong dominance over the Chicago Bears, it would be easy to say the Packers took the onetime Monsters of the Midway lightly.

It would also be incorrect, said Packers coach Mike Sherman and quarterback Brett Favre.

"Our guys were excited about playing the game," Sherman said after Sunday's 21-10 upset loss in the home opener at Lambeau Field. "They were excited on the sideline to the end of the game. There was a lot of emotion in this game. At no point did I feel we were flat. At no point in time did I feel we didn't get good effort. They just made some big plays and we didn't."

Added Favre: "We had great effort, but effort alone doesn't win football games.

The Packers certainly held their own on the statistical side of the game. They outgained the Bears by nearly 100 yards and won the time-of-possession battle by five minutes.

But while the Packers were as crisp as a bag of chips in thumping NFC champion Carolina in the season opener, the Packers made too many critical mistakes Sunday.

Chief among those was a fumble by Ahman Green late in the first half. With the Packers on the doorstep of taking a 10-7 lead and dominating the line of scrimmage, Green was stripped of the ball by Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher. The ball was scooped up by safety Mike Brown, who ran 95 yards untouched for the pivotal touchdown and a 14-3 lead.

Other missed opportunities came in the fourth quarter, with Robert Ferguson and Donald Driver dropping key passes. Ferguson's drop, on a corner route along the left sideline, could have resulted in a huge gain and possible game-turning play. Instead, the Packers punted with about nine minutes left and trailing by 11. Driver's drop came inside the 5-yard line on a last-gasp effort that ended with Favre hurried into a fourth-down incompletion.

In the first quarter, Green Bay dominated the Bears but held just a 3-0 lead. The Packers got the points on the first drive, but a false-start penalty on left tackle Chad Clifton turned third-and-7 at the Bears' 10-yard line into third-and-12 from the 15. Favre hit Walker for 9 yards on the next play — enough yardage for the first down if not for the penalty.

The Packers could have built a 6-0 lead, but an efficient third drive of the game in which the Packers started the possession at their own 4 ended with Ryan Longwell plunking the right upright on a 45-yard field goal.

"That was the thing — we moved the ball, but that last piece of acreage is the most valuable," said Packers center Mike Flanagan. "We gave them some things and they ran with it."

Favre was intercepted twice. The first came in the second quarter when he overthrew Driver on a deep post route. The second was the coup de grace, with Favre throwing far too high for a wide-open Bubba Franks in the fourth quarter.

With Green Bay entering the game on an 18-2 roll over the Bears and the Minnesota Vikings having emerged as the chief challenger in the division, the rivalry has lost some of its luster among Packers players. Not so among the Bears.

"I bet it is more of a rivalry now than it was yesterday," said Bears quarterback Rex Grossman.

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