Packers still own Bears

Posted: Tuesday, September 30, 2003

CHICAGO Dick Butkus and Mike Singletary were on hand to help the Chicago Bears inaugurate their refurbished stadium.

The Bears probably wish those Hall of Fame defenders could have been in uniform again, trying to stop Ahman Green and Brett Favre.

New Soldier Field or old Soldier Field, it makes little difference: The Green Bay Packers just love to play the Bears.

Ahman Green rushed for 176 yards and two touchdowns on only 19 carries, and Brett Favre tossed three touchdown passes to lead the Packers past the Bears 38-23 Monday night.

''Even though we've had success here, I don't want you to think it's ever easy,'' Favre said. ''I knew we would run the ball well. Before the game, Ahman was fired up. And the offensive line you could just tell they were ready to go.''

The Packers (2-2) won for the 17th time in the last 19 meetings between the NFL's oldest rivals, building a 24-6 halftime lead against the Bears (0-3).

The Bears were booed in their new-look stadium that is part of a $606 million lakefront beautification project.

Favre completed 21 of 30 passes for 179 yards in improving his career record against the Bears to 19-4 and has now directed 10 straight road wins against them. He also reached another milestone, jumping ahead of Dan Fouts to No. 5 on the career passing yards list with a total of 43,089.

Asked why he's been so successful against the Bears, Favre said: ''I have no idea. But I'm not complaining.''

When the Bears got within eight points in the final quarter, Favre put it away with a pair of TD passes, a 9-yarder to Javon Walker with 8:51 remaining and a 1-yarder to Bubba Franks with 4:21 left.

''I can't understand why we don't play better. We make the same mistakes over and over,'' Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher said.

''It's frustrating right now. We had a chance to get back in the game and we don't make a play. It was a huge game, and we just embarrassed ourselves one more time.''

Favre also connected with William Henderson on a 14-yard scoring pass in the first half and now has 47 career TD passes against the Bears his most against any team.

Chicago appeared to get back in the game with 12:36 left when Anthony Thomas broke off a 67-yard TD run to make it 24-16.

But then the Packers responded, moving 64 yards in seven plays. Green's 32-yard run through the porous Chicago defense move the ball to the 13. Minutes later, Favre rolled right and found Walker alone in the corner of the end zone.

Green Bay put it away with a seven-play, 54-yard drive capped when Franks wide open, as Packers receivers were all night made the TD catch that made the score 38-16.

Bears quarterback Kordell Stewart, who was sacked five times, scored on a 1-yard run with 1:28 remaining. By that time, most of the crowd of 58,937 had gone home.

The Bears hoped to make it a gala night. They invited several stars of the past to line the field as the current team charged out for introductions.

Favre got a chance to meet Butkus before the game.

''He was talking about the success we've had against them, and he said 'Make it easy on them. We've got a new stadium opening,''' Favre said. ''No one made it easy for us a couple of weeks ago.''

Green has averaged 4.5 yards per carry over his career against the Bears, and he wasted little time attacking them Monday.

Three minutes in, he took a handoff, headed left, juked defensive back Jerry Azumah and raced from his 40 for a score.

When the Packers got the ball back, Favre went to work, hitting Donald Driver with passes of 23 yards and 14 yards to set up Ryan Longwell's 34-yard field goal that made it 10-0.

When Stewart, under a heavy rush, was hit for a loss and then threw short on the next play, the boos began to intensify.

It quickly got worse for the Bears.

Brad Maynard's punt was blocked by Marcus Wilkins, giving Green Bay the ball at the Bears 20.

Favre then hit Franks for 14 yards before Green bulled his way through the defense for a 6-yard TD to make it 17-0 with 19 seconds remaining in the opening quarter.

Mike Green picked off Favre the QB's seventh interception of the season and returned the ball to Green Bay's 34. The Bears reached the Packers 12 before Stewart was sacked, and Paul Edinger kicked a 31-yard field goal early in the second quarter.

But Favre was masterful on the next series, hitting four of five passes while directing a nine-play, 72-yard drive. Green had two 11-yard carries, and Favre hit a wide open Henderson to make it 24-3.

Notes: Walker finished with five catches for the Packers, and three other receivers had four each. ... Green Bay finished with 380 yards total offense, just 19 more than the Bears. ... Favre tied Joe Montana for fourth place on the QB victories list with 117. John Elway leads with 148. ... Thomas finished with 110 yards rushing on 13 carries.

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