Packers Throw Away Rivalry Game Against Bears, with a Little Help from the Refs

After taking an early 7-0 lead, stopping the Bears offense, and putting together what looked like another scoring drive, Brett Favre connected with James Jones, who was hit just after gaining control of the football.  The usually sure-handed Jones fumbled, and the Bears recovered.  Still, after the Bears accomplished little on their subsequent drive, the Packers had all the momentum.  The Packers put together another long drive.  But once again, Charles Tillman pounded the football from Jones’ grasp after another completion.  Even with this setback, however, the Packers and their newfound rushing attack (121 yards, 5.5 yards per carry) had surged to a 17-7 lead at half, with the lone Bears touchdown coming off of a decidedly bad illegal procedure call that turned a 4th and 3 into a 1st and 10 (The refs also missed that the Bears had 12 men on the field on a previous play, even AFTER reviewing the play in which there were obviously 12, and arguably even 13 Bears on the field;  John Madden even managed to count 12 players).

In the 2nd half, everything went to hell.  Favre threw a dumb pick, Charles Woodson fumbled, and the Bears roared back to tie the game at 20.  Then, on a critical 3rd and short, the Bears ran Cedric Benson up the middle and were stopped near the first down.  A bad spot, however, gave the Bears a first down.  McCarthy promptly challenged the spot, and succeeded in moving the ball back a yard.  However, after re-measuring from the new spot, the Bears had the first down by less than half an inch.  So  Green Bay won the challenge, technically, but the Bears still had a first down.  Green Bay was charged with a timeout, though, despite the fact that they had actually won the challenge.  This loss of a timeout would be critical later.  On the same drive, the Bears scored a touchdown with just over 2 minutes left.  After the kickoff and the 2-minute warning, the Packers took over near their own 20.  After driving down the field slowly, and with only 1 timeout left, the clock ticked mercilessly fast.  Compounding the problem the passes kept going to the middle of the field rather than the sideline.  Before long, there were 8 seconds left and the Packers were still outside of the redzone.  Favre threw one last desperation pass toward the endzone.  After a jump ball, it looked at first as though Donald Driver had come down with it, but at the bottom of the  pile, it turned out that a Bear had snatched the ball for Favre’s second interception of the game.

While bad calls certainly played a role in this game, the Packers 5 turnovers were the most crucial aspect of this disappointing lost.  Next week, the Packers face a surprisingly good Washington Redskins team (3-1) that is coming off its bye week.  The Packers will need to quickly regroup to be able to take on the high-powered passing attack of Jason Campbell and the Redskins.

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