Bears win one for the ice ages

Krik Wessler

After watching the Chicago Bears crush the Green Bay Packers, 35-7, on Sunday afternoon, I can tell you this with certainty:

It was cold enough at Soldier Field to make you cuss a frozen-blue streak at Al Gore. Cold enough that every beard in the place grew snotcycles. Maybe cold enough to freeze an egg on the sidewalk.

“That was something I’ve never felt in my life, and I’m from Chicago,” Bears rookie running back Garrett Wolfe said.

“When the wind blew,” defensive end Alex Brown said, referring to every second of every minute of every hour this game required, “it was like somebody jabbing you in the side.”

Officially, the temperature was a balmy 16 degrees Fahrenheit, but the wind chill was an Arctic minus-18, putting the game in Ice Bowl territory.

It was profanity-spewing cold out there.

Not quite as cold, perhaps, as Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher, whose relationship with the Chicago media has officially embarked upon an Ice Age. Urlacher ran into and snatched a bad pass by Packers legend Brett Favre, then huffed and puffed and chugged 85 yards to score the first interception return for a touchdown of his eight-year career. Upon reaching the end zone, Urlacher feigned a heart attack and collapsed. Then, upon seeing a dozen reporters gathered around his locker to record his happiness for posterity, Urlacher got up and grunted — at least he said, “excuse me” — and left the room.

But it was much too cold to go shirtless, as some goofball fans did, including one who jumped the wall during the fourth quarter and semi-streaked all the way to the Packers’ 40-yard line before he was gang-tackled by security. They dragged him away, but did not share their red parkas with him.

And it was obviously way too cold for the Packers, who seemed to take one look at the conditions — the wind blowing this way, snow flurrying that way, fan garbage swirling all over the place — and decide this game wasn’t worth playing.

Don’t succumb to temptation and give the Bears’ defense too much credit for their victory.

To begin with, it was the Chicago offense that set the tone with a 10-minute, 45-second scoring drive to open the game. As we’ve come to expect, the effort netted only three points. Still, it was mostly the offense that kept Favre and the Packers off the field for all but eight minutes of the first half.

When the Packers finally did get the ball, they self-destructed. Their first drive stalled on the fourth play, when Favre lined up in shotgun formation and center Scott Wells snapped the ball over his head. On the next play, fourth-down-and-16, punter Jon Ryan fumbled the snap and stuck his team in bad field position.

“We’re not gonna take full credit for the way (the Packers) played,” the Bears’ Brown said. “They didn’t play their best. That was a little bit because of what we did, but also a little what they did.”

What the Packers did was pretty much nothing. They caved in to the cold, wimped out in the wind.

“Worst conditions I’ve ever played in,” Favre said.

Cold was only a part of the problem. Wind played the real havoc. Steady it came, at 22 mph, but gusts were reported in excess of 40. Neither Favre nor Bears quarterback Kyle Orton wanted to put the ball up in the currents, which might carry it off to Oz or Lake Michigan, depending on whim. So they rifled mostly low, hard balls that were all the more difficult for receivers to handle.

The Great Favre played like a typical Bear, throwing two interceptions, no touchdowns and a 40.2 passer rating that was almost gross, man. Orton, a starter two years ago but relegated to third team these past two seasons, completed a tidy 8 of 14, with one TD, no INTs and a Favreian 103.6 rating.

Pat Orton on the back, but please don’t shake his hand. His postgame beard was much too clean for a guy who was sniffing every sixth word after blowing into his palms all afternoon.

Sorry if that sounds ugly and cold. But that’s what it was.

KIRK WESSLER is Journal Star executive sports editor/columnist. Contact him at (309) 686-3216 or