Long day for Favre

Veteran quarterback battered, bruised by Bears

CHICAGO – Physically pounded in one of the toughest games of his 15-year NFL career, Brett Favre walked off Soldier Field on Sunday with a feeling he has not felt in a while as a loser in a road game against the Bears.

The Chicago Bears No. 1 defense yielded some yardage to Favre and the Packers, but in the end, it made the big plays and the put the pressure on Favre like no other team has this year. Favre left Chicago with several injuries and a 19-7 loss, his first loss on the road against the Bears since 1993.

Favre came into the game with perhaps the toughest challenge of his career against the Bears considering the Packers stood at 2-9 and the Bears were riding a seven-game winning streak atop the NFC North. He dominated the Bears in Illinois for the past decade, but on Sunday, the Bears defense dominated him. He left the game with his right hand and forearm wrapped, a sore shin, and one giant blister on his foot. The Bears pressured him into two fumbles and two interceptions making for his longest day ever at Soldier Field and maybe his last.

Asked at his post-game press conference if Sunday was the most banged up he has been at the end of a game this season, Favre responded, "Yeah, I've been hit throughout my career, I think it all depends on where the injury is or how you fall, one of those things. Mike Brown caught me one time good - perfect in the ribs. It was one of those things on defense, that if you saw it on the field, you live for. It opened up perfect."

Favre was referring to the Bears starting safety when he mentioned the lick Brown laid on him. On a drive midway through the third quarter, Brown blitzed off the left corner and caught Favre just as he started to roll to his right, forcing a fumble. Packers guard Scott Wells recovered, but another Packers' drive stalled, like they did for much of the day.

Favre also got tattooed by defensive tackle Tommie Harris on a fumble he lost in the fourth quarter, but the two interceptions he threw were the difference in game. His first came just before halftime when he tried to throw a pass away, out of the end zone, going into the wind. The Packers were positioned at the Bears' seven-yard line with a 7-6 lead when the turnover occurred, so they could have extended their lead going into halftime to at least 10-6. Instead, a Bears' blitz aborted a shovel pass play the Packers had called, and when the pressure forced Favre to roll right, he was hit, forcing a bad throw. The errant pass ended up in the hands of Bears' cornerback Charles Tillman, who then returned it 95 yards out of the end zone to set up a Bears' field goal with just six seconds left in the half.

"With shovel passes, as you know, you either have the shovel or you have no other option," said Favre. "They came with the blitz, which was okay, but they just sent the right blitz on the right play. It happened so fast it's hard to explain. They came free, and I couldn't really find Tony Fisher, and I didn't want to turn and throw it outside to the end zone. And, I think as I was throwing, I got hit and couldn't get the ball to him. That was a huge play in the game."

The Packers continued to make some yardage in the second half, but were unable to find the end zone. When Bears' cornerback Nathan Vasher returned Favre's second interception of the game for a 45-yard touchdown, he delivered the decided blow and put the Bears ahead by 12 with just 3:06 remaining in the game.

"I had a pretty good read on it," said Vasher. "The way we played the formation was something we had seen in practice a lot. It goes back to preparation and having good communication and jumping the route. That's something I've been able to do well."

Favre completed 31 passes on 58 attempts for 277 yards and no touchdown passes. The 58 attempts were the second most he has ever thrown in a game in his career. The Packers totaled 358 yards, but found the end zone only once.

Even as a major part of two plays that determined the outcome of the game, Favre was not about to be singled out by head coach Mike Sherman.

"I don't think you can put anything on Brett Favre," said Sherman. "There's an offense that we had to overcome. We were put in some tough situations as well with some long area situations because the penalties and some negative yardage plays or whatever the case may be. I'm as much a part of it as anybody, so don't put it all on him. Our offense didn't function as well as it should have."

As for any recurring effects of the injuries he sustained, Favre thinks he will be okay. Though he sported a wrapped cast shortly after the game, he said there was no break to his hand or forearm. The injury occurred when he followed through on a pass to Donald Lee in the third quarter.

"I'm not sure if it was a helmet or facemask, but I think it was the middle of third quarter," said Favre. "It hurt, but I think one of the best throws I made all day was after that particular play."

Still, Favre endured physically what many quarterbacks could not, but like too many times this year, he was not able to lead the Packers to a fourth-quarter comeback. This game just hurt worse because it was the long-time rival Bears and the NFL's best defense that let the three-time MVP quarterback know they are for real.

"He's pretty resilient mentally and physically, as resilient as they come, but that would definitely shake up somebody, I think, to a point," said Sherman. "I wouldn't say it rattled him, but he certainly had a couple of legitimate hits that they put on him that were significant."

Matt Tevsh

Editor's note: Matt Tevsh lives in Green Bay and is entering his 10th season covering the Green Bay Packers for Packer Report and PackerReport.com. E-mail him at matttevsh@hotmail.com.

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