Favre, Grossman are both winners

PackerReport.com's Matt Tevsh offers his take from Soldier Field on the differences and similarities between quarterbacks Brett Favre and Rex Grossman following Green Bay's 26-7 New Year's Eve victory.

CHICAGO – What NBC's prime-time regular season finale telecast between the Packers and Bears lacked in playoff implications it gained in quarterback drama. Rex Grossman left the game stinking while Brett Favre left it thinking ... about whether this is the real end of an amazing NFL career.

Favre took pictures with teammates, was hoisted by Donald Driver, and got teary-eyed in a post-game television interview sending the nation a message of just how much the game has meant to him, though it may not be over quite yet.

Favre will have ankle surgery on Monday in Green Bay, a swift indicator that he is probably leaning toward playing at least another season. After a decline in production during the second half of the season, Favre used little-known receivers on Sunday night at Soldier Field to exploit holes in an otherwise solid Bears' defense.

The 285-yard passing night was not against many of the Bears backups, either, as could have been the case for a team who had already wrapped up home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs. The Bears kept their regular rotation of players in for the entire game, minus three regular starters who were inactive, yet still the Packers capitalized.

Clearly Mike McCarthy did not want to get into any "Favre's future" talk following his team's 26-7 upset of the Bears, nor should he. Like the rest of the team, he was enjoying the moment of beating the Bears, even if it did not translate into making the playoffs.

Speculation will run rampant in the coming weeks as to Favre's decision, but Sunday night was all about the quarterbacks. Not just Favre, but Bears' starter Rex Grossman as well. The young quarterback has provided Chicago drama all season though the Bears have dominated the NFC (11-1 in conference play). As once compared by ex-Packers general manager Ron Wolf to Favre, Grossman plays much like his division rival. Bears fans have certainly witnessed that roller coaster this season.

So even after Grossman played perhaps one of the worst games in the history of NFL against the Packers, here is one tidbit of advice that Packers fans could give die-hard Bears fans who may be waking up to New Year's hangovers: Take the good with the bad and be happy to be the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs.

Grossman's 2-for-12, 33-yard, three-interception performance in one-half of play drew boos from the home crowd just before halftime. Remember though that Grossman, like Favre, can play this type of game. He is also a winner.

"I have confidence every time I go out there just because I have proven that I can be successful," Grossman said. "I just need to prepare the same way each week and go out there and execute, it's that simple. Sometimes things don't happen the way that you prepare and you've got to be able to adjust on the fly and keep going. That's what I'm working on right now and I'm excited about the challenge. I've been in this position before so I'm just going to go back in my fort and fight my way out."

Not only does Grossman play the tough, take-chances style that Favre does, but his numbers are similar this year. He finished the regular season with 23 touchdowns and 20 interceptions (and a 73.9 quarterback rating) while Favre threw for 18 touchdowns and 18 interceptions (and a 72.7 quarterback rating).

Before any Bears fans might be ready to begin any talk of benching Grossman before the playoffs, consider backup Brian Griese was nearly as bad replacing him. Taking over in the second half, Griese completed just 5 of 15 passes with two interceptions.

The real cause of the Bears' offensive problems was the Packers' defense. Only one lapse, a 75-yard touchdown pass to Mark Bradley, marred what was hard-hitting, takeaway-filled night. The Packers nabbed five interceptions.

As it seems many of Favre interceptions go for touchdowns the other way, nearly all of Grossman's did against the Packers. Safety Nick Collins took one back 55 yards in the first quarter and cornerback Patrick Dendy closed the first half scoring to put the Packers up 23-0 when he returned a tipped pass 30 yards for a touchdown.

The Bears should be concerned about their quarterback's psyche headed into the playoffs, but if he has shown anything this year, it is resiliency. He has bounced back and led the Bears to a 13-3 season and come up with big plays even through making some bone-head throws.

If it is the end for Favre, it was a classic performance. There were near interceptions and some bad throws, but also some great throws that only Favre can make. It was not perfect, but neither is Favre, yet he has always been a winner. Grossman should take that to heart.

Two quarterbacks of similar makeup shaped Sunday night's game and without any speculation about each's future, they were both compelling to watch. That is a lasting image to take from the game.

"For us (the Packers), that was the Super Bowl today," said Favre in his post-game comments. "If it was the last game, I couldn't be more pleased with the outcome."


Matt Tevsh

Matt Tevsh is a regular contributor to PackerReport.com and Packer Report. E-mail him at matttevsh@hotmail.com.


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