Bears capitalize on Packers turnovers

Same tune, different verse for the fumbling, bumbling Green Bay Packers. How do the Packers find a way to lose when they have every chance to win? Look no further than today's game at Chicago's Soldier Field.

Chicago scored 10 points off two of Green Bay's four turnovers en route to a 19-7 victory. Charles Tillman returned one Brett Favre interception 95 yards to set up a field goal, and Nathan Vasher carried a fourth-quarter pick 45 yards for a clinching touchdown as the NFC North Division-leading Bears won their eighth straight game.

Bears kicker Robbie Gould made four of five field goal attempts, and Favre's 26-game streak with at least one touchdown pass against the Bears came to an end. Green Bay lost for the first time since Dec. 5, 1993 south of the Wisconsin-Illinois border as the two teams met for the 169th time (170th, including playoffs).

"Take nothing away from Chicago," said Packers coach Mike Sherman. "They played well enough to win, and we didn't play well enough to win. That's the bottom line. Should we have won the game? No. We made too many mistakes to win the football game. I felt coming into the game that we would have a chance to win, yes. Did we deserve to win? No."

The Packers (2-10) dominated the Bears 358 to 188 in total yards, but like so many games this season, Green Bay hurt itself. Besides Favre's interceptions, the Packers fumbled the ball away twice. Green Bay also committed nine penalties for 70 yards to Chicago's four for 61 yards.

"We feel we are a better team," said Packers linebacker Nick Barnett. "We should win this game. We let it slip out."

For the most part, Favre struggled for the second straight game. A week after finishing with a season-low passer rating (46.4) in a loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, he threw for 277 yards, completing 31 of 58 attempts, and his second-worst passer rating of the season - 52.2. Favre especially used poor judgment on two passes that were intercepted and turned into points for the Bears. And it didn't help that he banged his throwing hand on the helmet of Chicago's Ian Scott in the third quarter on a follow through.

Favre's interception total increased to 21 for the season, three shy of his career high, and he left the locker room with a sore right hand and bruised right forearm that was bandaged, a blister on his left foot, but impressed with the Bears defense.

"In all the years I've faced them defensively, this is as well as I've seen them play," Favre said about the Bears. "I don't think you can call them opportunistic; they're just good. Good teams find ways to make good plays."

Vasher's game-sealing play with 3:06 remaining helped the Bears beat Favre for only the second time in 13 games at Soldier Field. Favre's pass sailed behind the intended receiver - Donald Driver - and into the hands of Vasher for his team-high seventh interception and first touchdown of the season and second touchdown of his career.

Green Bay's defense held Bears quarterback Kyle Orton to 38 yards passing in the first half, but Tillman's interception and 94-yard return seconds before halftime lifted the Bears to a 9-7 halftime lead.

For at least one drive, Favre was fairly hot on the 24-degree afternoon. He completed seven of eight passes for 58 yards and got the Packers to Chicago's 7 on his six-yard pass to tight end David Martin. But on the next play, Favre saw that the Bears were blitzing and opted out of a shovel pass play at the last second. He tried to throw the ball out of the end zone toward wide receiver Robert Ferguson, but Tillman easily caught the pass two yards deep in the end zone and raced the other direction before getting dragged down by running back Tony Fisher at the Packers' 7 with six seconds left in the half.

Gould, who made field goals from 24 and 40 yards earlier in the game booted a 25-yarder with two seconds remaining in the half to give the Bears a two-point lead.

"It's one of those, it's kind of like a draw play. If you block it correctly, you have a potential to have a long one," Favre said. "There's no one left after the initial line of scrimmage. If you don't block the right angles ... really you have nothing. It happened so fast ... they came free and I couldn't find ‘Fish' (Fisher) to throw it. As I was throwing, I couldn't put enough on it. Huge play in the game, obviously."

The Packers could never recover.

Samkon Gado, who rushed 20 times for 75 yards, scored his fifth rushing touchdown of the season and gave the Packers a 7-3 lead with 7:08 left in the second quarter on a two-yard plunge into the end zone. The score capped an eight-play, 60-yard drive that began with Gado's 12-yard run to the Bears' 48. Favre's 18-yard pass to wide receiver Antonio Chatman combined with Tank Johnson's 15-yard roughing the passer penalty on Favre gave Green Bay the ball on the Bears' 16.

Chicago bounced back, and Orton hooked up with wide receiver Bernard Berrian for a 34-yard pickup to Green Bay's 37. But Green Bay's defense, ranked ninth in the league entering the game, forced the Bears to settle for setting up Gould's 40-yard field goal.

Gould added a 35-yard field goal in the fourth quarter that gave the Bears a 12-7 lead.

Safety Mark Roman intercepted his first pass of the season from Orton on the Bears' first series of the game, but the Packers were unable to move against Chicago's top-ranked defense. It also didn't help that punter B.J. Sander shanked two punts out of bounds, which gave the Bears two of three first-half possessions in Green Bay territory.

Going for it on a fourth-and-1 from the Bears 34 in the first quarter - four plays after a 23-yard run by Gado was wiped out by a holding penalty on Driver - Favre rolled left and then at the last second threw a pass behind Donald Lee. It appeared that Favre could have run for the first down on the play.

The Packers lost tight end Bubba Franks on the first series of the game when he was hit and suffered an arm stinger. Later in the opening quarter, Chicago rookie safety Chris Harris was knocked out with a knee injury.


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