Packers-Bears: Game notes

Blocked punts doom Packers; Grant rambles; individual highlights

The last time the Packers had a punt blocked before Sunday -- a streak of 929 kicks -- was on a warm summer night at Chicago on Sept. 11, 1995.

Blustery, subzero conditions on a winter day at the same Soldier Field venue conspired for two blocks by the Bears at the expense of Jon Ryan in a maddening 35-7 defeat for Green Bay.

Throw in a mishandled snap by Ryan on another punt, two botched snaps from center Scott Wells and several wayward passes from Brett Favre, and the Packers looked nothing like a team accustomed to winter's wrath.

The wind chill at kickoff was minus-1.

"I've been playing 17 years, and that was the worst conditions I've ever played in," said Favre, who had only 9 passing yards in the first half and 153 for the game. "Excuse? No excuse. It was, but they handled it better than we did. We have historically handled it well. It's kind of our ace in the hole, but (Sunday), obviously, it wasn't."

The frosty performance might not bode well for Green Bay, which dropped the ball on staying alive for home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. The 12-3 Packers ceded the No. 1 seed to Dallas.

Head coach Mike McCarthy isn't a fan of taking the players outside for practice late in the season. The closest they came to getting a feel for the nippy elements in practice leading up to Sunday's game was the doors of their indoor facility were left open.

"It's a different surface," McCarthy said of the FieldTurf on the outdoor practice field. "I feel more comfortable on the FieldTurf in the Hutson Center. It's just a preference. And, also the quality of practice, taking the wind out is a factor. You get more done inside."

Taking portions of practice outside, no matter the unfavorable conditions, could be in the offing, however. The Packers have played some inferior late-season football with the temperatures below the freezing mark in recent years.

Green Bay, which has a first-round bye, will host an NFC divisional playoff game at Lambeau Field, where it has lost two of its last three postseason contests.

Grant in high gear
RB Ryan Grant had the lone highlight for the Packers in suffering a two-game sweep to the rival Bears, who scored the last 29 points.

Grant's 66-yard touchdown run in the second quarter was the longest by a Packer since Ahman Green had a 70-yard scoring dash Oct. 22, 2006, at Miami.

Grant topped his personal best of 62 yards, which also went for a touchdown, in the Nov. 29 loss at Dallas.

Offensive line gives up rare sack
QB Brett Favre, who completed only 17 of 32 passes with two interceptions, was sacked in the fourth quarter by Alex Brown. It ended a run of 152 straight pass plays for Favre without a sack, going back to the Nov. 18 win over Carolina. The streak was one short of Favre's career high, attained in the 2004 season.

The Bears have had at least one sack in 20 straight games dating back to last season.

Packers individual notes
-- DT Ryan Pickett, plagued by a strained groin, was deactivated Sunday at Chicago. Pickett had played in 101 straight regular-season games, dating to his rookie season in 2001, when he was a rookie with St. Louis.

-- DT Justin Harrell, the team's first-round draft pick this year, made his starting debut with Ryan Pickett out. Harrell finished with five tackles.

-- TE Bubba Franks was cleared to play Sunday, ending an eight-game absence stemming from a sprained knee sustained Oct. 14.

-- QB Aaron Rodgers was inactive as the No. 3 quarterback for a third straight game. Rodgers is recovering from a strained hamstring and might also be held out of the regular-season finale Sunday against Detroit.

-- CB Will Blackmon worked as the nickel back against the Bears, filling in for Jarrett Bush, who missed a second straight game because of a calf injury.

-- OL Jason Spitz was the starter at right guard, his natural position, after he had started the previous two games at left guard.

-- OL Junius Coston, the starter at right guard the prior two games, opened the game at left guard but alternated throughout the game with previously demoted Daryn Colledge.

Bears individual notes
-- RB Adrian Peterson's 102 rushing yards established a Bears season high, and he had a career-high 30 carries, including an NFL-high 22 first-half carries.

-- QB Kyle Orton, despite a minus-18-degree wind chill factor and winds gusting 30-40 miles an hour, had a 103.6 passer rating, the highest of his career.

-- MLB Brian Urlacher had his team-best fourth interception of the season, and returned it 85 yards for a touchdown. Three of his picks have come in the past four games.

-- WR Muhsin Muhammad was held without a catch for the first time since Dec. 4, 2005. He dropped what would have been a three-yard touchdown pass on fourth down when it hit him between the numbers and bounced off his chest.

-- RS Devin Hester had a total of minus-1 return yards. He fair caught one punt and misjudged his only kickoff-return attempt, allowing it to bounce around before finally picking it up.

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