Matt Trowbridge: Bears chill out with season sweep of Packers
Now we know why Chicago didn’t build a dome.
“That’s what we are as a team,” coach Lovie Smith said Sunday after Chicago’s most lopsided win over Green Bay in 27 years. “The weather was a factor, but we are set up to play in conditions like this.”
Who besides Smith prepares for days with 34 mph winds blowing snow across the field? Not even Green Bay, as was evident in the Packers’ 35-7 loss.
“Those were the worst conditions I’ve ever played in,” said Brett Favre, who passed for only nine yards in the first half and then threw two second-half interceptions, one returned 85 yards for a touchdown by Brian Urlacher.
“I haven’t thawed out yet,” Favre added.
Bears players also said it was the worst conditions in which they had ever played.
“When that wind blew, it was like someone was jabbing you in the side,” defensive end Alex Brown said.
Perfect. This is what they mean by “Bear weather.” Conditions that set football back 100 years, when the forward pass was still called the “forward pass” and used only as a last resort, sort of like the Bears regard it with Kyle Orton.
“Anyone that played in today’s conditions knew that it was a tossup where the ball would end up,” Favre said.
What a perfect way to even up the sides when one team has the NFL’s all-time leading passer and the other has Orton.
“We threw it when we had to,” Orton (8 of 14 for 101 yards) said.
And ONLY when they had to. The Bears ran on 27 of their first 33 plays.
“We weren’t going to throw the ball around,” center Olin Kreutz said, “with the wind blowing and the weather the way it was.”
Actually, most any day Chicago would prefer not to throw the ball around. What was different this day was Mother Nature made the other team play Bronko Nagurski football, too.
“The plan was not to throw the ball today,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said.
Days when the Packers don’t want Brett Favre to pass come around once a decade. While that makes it bad strategy to build your team around them, it doesn’t lessen the salve on the Bears’ wounded pride.
The defending NFC champions went bust long ago, but Chicago (6-9) did sweep the arch rival Packers (12-3).
“It doesn’t salvage the season,” Kreutz said, “but it does give our fans something to cheer about. We’re always happy when we can do that.”
Orton said Bears-Packers is the one NFL rivalry that has never waned.
“It has to be with how much hatred there is between the fans,” Orton said. “They force the rivalry upon us.”
Wide receiver Muhsin Muhammad, who dropped an early potential touchdown pass, called 2007 “a season of misfortune and missed opportunities.” This win did nothing to change that.
“But when it’s all said in done, in Chicago, if you beat the Green Bay Packers twice, your fans are rejuvenated,” Muhammad said.
The Bears haven’t given their fans much in this lost season, but two wins over a 12-3 Green Bay team buys a lot of Christmas cheer.
“We don’t have a whole lot of goals left,” Orton said, “but that was one of them, to be able to go 2-0 against the Packers.”
“Beating your rival is big,” said Smith, who is 5-1 against the Packers the last three years. “We are disappointed in our season, but when we played the Packers today we couldn’t do a lot about that. The only thing we could do was get a win against them and have an opportunity to sweep them, which is saying a lot.”
The Bears would like to have said more this season. They will settle for saying a lot in their two most emotional games of the year.
Rockford Register Star assistant sports editor Matt Trowbridge can be reached at: 815-987-1383 or firstname.lastname@example.org