Packers beat themselves

Turnovers and penalties too much to overcome in loss to Bears

Sure, the Chicago Bears beat the Green Bay Packers on Sunday night at Lambeau Field, but the Packers have no one but themselves to blame for dropping their first game of the season. Green Bay wasn't out-coached and the Packers weren't out-played. They simply gave the game away to the struggling Bears via five turnovers.

Rookie wide receiver James Jones' fumbles hurt the Packers' chances of blowing the game open early on, and Brett Favre's ill-advised throw into the hands of linebacker Brian Urlacher late in the third quarter drilled another nail in the coffin. When Charles Woodson fumbled the ball away on a punt return near the end of the third quarter, it was quite evident that a win probably wasn't going to happen for the Packers, even though they still had a slight lead. At that point, the Packers had lost all the momentum that they built during the first two quarters en route to a 17-7 lead, and the wounded Bears had every reason to believe that they could win.

"I think it's a perfect example of a team that came in here, they found a way to win that game," said Packers coach Mike McCarthy. "They had some things that went against them early. We have to take care of the football. We can't have twice as many - good calls or bad calls - as your opponent. It was a sloppy game in the second half. We will get in here tomorrow and look at the film. Win or lose, we need to improve. I say it over and over again. I'm sure you guys are tired of hearing it. To play the way we did in the first half and not finish that game is disappointing."

The Packers sprinkled a season-high 12 penalties amid their gaffes with the football, and the Bears capitalized. Surprised at Green Bay's sloppiness? Don't be because this kind of game probably will happen again at some point in the season due to Green Bay's youthfulness. Inconsistency is likely to be the norm rather than the exception for this year's version of the Packers, but how the team responds will ultimately determine wins and losses.

By the way the Packers have played in their first four-and-a-half games, there is no team left on their schedule that they shouldn't be able to beat at this time. But if they give opponents opportunities, they will end up beating themselves, like they did against the Bears.

The big hurdle that McCarthy and his team has to clear at this point is to maintain the quiet confidence it had coming into the Bears game. If the Packers can show some resiliency this Sunday against the Washington Redskins and limit, or erase, their turnovers, success will come. It's a good bet that the Packers will bounce back because inflated egos don't seem to be a problem with this team.

Boneheaded mistakes will kill any team in the National Football League, and that's precisely what enabled the Bears to rebound from a 10-point deficit and win a game that they had no business winning.

"You cannot turn the football over and win in this league," McCarthy said. "It's evident week in and week out and that's the game we played tonight."

A nightmare, indeed, for the Packers.

Todd Korth is managing editor of PackerReport.com and Packer Report magazine. E-mail him at packrepted@aol.com.


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