The end is here

Expect Bears to finally conquer Favre at Soldier Field

In his previous 26 games against the Chicago Bears, Brett Favre has won 21 games as quarterback of the Green Bay Packers. He has dominated the Bears like Michael Jordan used to the Cleveland Cavaliers. He has dominated the Bears like Tiger Woods dominates … everybody.

But as we see in every sport, this domination, at some point, comes to an end. Sunday at Soldier Field, Favre will bring in his 11-1 record at Chicago, and his reign is expected to come to a halt. End?

That's up to Favre in the off-season.

For the first time since 1993, Favre enters Soldier Field with no expectations. The Packers are 2-9, Favre leads the NFL with 19 interceptions and the Packers' offense is depleted. This season certainly has been different for No. 4.

Last week, maybe for the first time in my memory, I saw Favre throw a pass with an attitude reeking of, "I give up." His last throw into the end zone to Robert Ferguson, who was triple-covered, looked more like a Hail Mary with no chance of the prayer getting answered. It was intercepted and the Packers lost.

I'm not saying Favre gave up, but that throw certainly didn't paint the picture we've all been familiar with, where Favre is always trying to make something happen. That was a throw for the heck of it. Favre could've thrown the ball away and lived for another snap, but it looked like he wanted it over then – whatever the outcome.

With that in mind, what happens Sunday? I'm afraid to watch. The Packers have had offensive line problems all season – and they are pulling Will Whitticker at guard for Grey Ruegamer – when the Packers are going up against the top defense in football.

Favre has toyed with the Bears in the past, completing a Hail Mary pass to Antonio Freeman, a 99-yard pass to Robert Brooks and recording a five-touchdown effort on a badly-sprained ankle. Sunday's game, like most of this season, will be something new during the Favre era. The Packers enter Soldier Field with most giving the Packers little chance of beating the Bears, who are seven-point favorites.

Has Favre faced bigger hurdles and won? Yes. So can it happen against Sunday? I'd like to say yes, but after watching the Packers for 11 games, why will things change now? Soldier Field has been Lambeau Field south for Favre, but Sunday it'll change.

OTHER ITEMS
Not only is Favre's dominance over the Bears likely over, so are some other items during Favre's era:

-- As we all know by now, the Packers will lose more games than they win for the first time with Favre under center. The last time the Packers lost more than they won was 1991 – Lindy Infante's last season, when the Packers went 4-12.

-- When was the last time the Packers didn't have a 1,000-yard running back? It was 1998, when the elusive Darick Holmes led the Packers with 386 yards. Since then, Dorsey Levens once and Ahman Green five times cleared 1,000 yards. Samkon Gado leads the Packers with 291 rushing yards. He'll be lucky to reach 600.

-- When was the last time Favre threw 20 interceptions in a season? Actually, 2003, when Favre threw 21. So in others words, two of the last three seasons Favre has given it away too much.

-- When was the last time the Packers' leading sacker didn't have 10 sacks? Unless Aaron Kampman (6 ½ sacks) keeps his pace going, this season will be the first since 2000 the Packers didn't have someone record 10 sacks.

By the way, does Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila still play for the Packers?

Surely there's other streaks coming to an end this season, but these examples shows you what 2005 has been like. Starting with the season opener, when Javon Walker suffered a season-ending knee injury, the Packers were doomed.

They've lost just about everybody worth anything on offense but Favre, Donald Driver and tackles Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher. That's not enough to win.

There's five more games left, and then we turn our attention to the off-season, free agency and the draft. Of course, the biggest story will be whether Favre returns or not.

That's one streak Packers fans don't want to end – having Favre at quarterback – but you know what, the way things have gone this season, who knows what will happen?


Doug Ritchay

Editor's note: Doug Ritchay is a longtime sportswriter and former Packers beat writer for the Green Bay News-Chronicle. E-mail at dritchay@sbcglobal.net.


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