Final

Bears 24

(11-4, 4-3 away)

Packers 17

(3-12, 2-5 home)

5:00 PM ET, December 25, 2005

 

1 2 3 4 T
CHI 7 7 10 024
GB 0 7 0 1017

Top Performers

Passing: B. Favre (GB) - 317 YDS, 4 INT

Rushing: T. Jones (CHI) - 25 CAR, 105 YDS, 1 TD

Receiving: D. Driver (GB) - 6 REC, 107 YDS

Bears sweep Pack for first time since 1991

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) -- Most playoff teams would expect to get more than 166 yards passing from their starting quarterback.

It was over when ...
Alex Brown sacked Brett Favre on the Green Bay 48-yard line with less than 30 seconds to play. Though Green Bay did get off another play -- which resulted in a Bears interception -- the sack ended any realistic chance at a Packers tying touchdown.
Game ball goes to ...
Bears running back Thomas Jones. While the defense was once again stellar for Chicago -- intercepting four passes and returning one for a touchdown -- Jones carried the load on offense, running 25 times for 105 yards and a touchdown while new starting quarterback Rex Grossman continues to adjust.

For the Chicago Bears, however, it represents a giant leap forward.

Rex Grossman didn't pile up gaudy statistics in his first regular-season start in nearly 15 months. But his ability to throw accurate deep passes gave the Bears a new dimension, helping them clinch the NFC North and a first-round bye with a 24-17 victory over the Green Bay Packers on Sunday.

"We mixed it up a little bit," Grossman said. "We saw a lot of tape where we could do some things down the field, and we made a few plays there. We got a lead and came back to our running game and great defense."

The Bears (11-4) also swept the Packers for the first time since 1991.

"I don't think you can change the magnitude of winning in Green Bay or clinching the division in Green Bay," said linebacker Lance Briggs, who returned an interception for a touchdown in the third quarter. "It's the Packers. They're our biggest rival."

The Packers (3-12) are well on their way toward their first losing season in the Brett Favre era. With one game remaining, the futures of Favre and coach Mike Sherman remain in doubt.

"This one really hurts, because we didn't want them to win the division on our field," Packers defensive tackle Grady Jackson said. "This season feels like a bad dream."

The season has been a nightmare for Favre, who tried to rally the Packers in the final minute but came up short. A potential game-tying drive ended with yet another Favre interception.

Favre had four more passes picked off Sunday, bringing his total to 28 for the season and surpassing his previous career high of 24 in 1993.

"Anytime a quarterback gets four interceptions, you have to look at that," Sherman said. "I do know this: He gave us a chance to win there at the end."

Favre has gone four straight games without a touchdown pass, the first time in his career he has gone more than two games without throwing for a score.

Favre, who has yet to decide if he will return to play next season, didn't speak to reporters after the game.

Favre outdueled Grossman with 317 yards on 30-of-51 passing, including six passes to Donald Driver for 106 yards. But Grossman threw more effective deep passes, opening up space for running back Thomas Jones. Jones had 25 carries for 105 yards and a touchdown.

"It was great to see the offense do that," coach Lovie Smith said. "It was good to see the defense finish the job at the end. It was a great team effort, a great team win."

Grossman missed most of last season with a knee injury, then broke his ankle in a preseason game in August. He was replaced by rookie Kyle Orton, who played mostly mistake-free football but didn't make spectacular plays.

Smith replaced Orton with Grossman in the second half of the Bears' victory over Atlanta last Sunday night. After naming Grossman his new starter, Smith spent most of last week proclaiming that the Bears weren't about to deviate from their identity as a run-first offense.

But he gave Grossman license to let it fly.

Grossman heaved a deep pass toward wide receiver Bernard Berrian on the Bears' first offensive play. The pass fell incomplete, but Grossman kept throwing.

Grossman completed his next five passes, including three for first downs and a 12-yard touchdown pass to Muhsin Muhammad on third-and-goal from the Packers 12.

Grossman set up the Bears' second touchdown with a 54-yard heave to Berrian; a subsequent roughing penalty on Packers defensive end Michael Montgomery gave Chicago first-and-goal on the Packers 9.

Jones plunged into the end zone two plays later, putting the Bears ahead 14-7.

Bears kicker Robbie Gould added a 45-yard field goal in the third quarter, making the score 17-7. Packers kicker Ryan Longwell missed a 38-yard field goal in the second quarter and 39-yarder in the third.

"It was just one of those days -- should have made the kicks," Longwell said.

Briggs returned his interception 10 yards for a touchdown, making it 24-7 in the third quarter. But the Packers didn't quit.

Antonio Chatman returned a punt 85 yards for a score to make it 24-14 with 7:54 remaining. The Packers drew to within a touchdown when Longwell finally connected on a 26-yard field goal with 1:54 remaining.

The Packers got the ball back with 1:26 left, and Favre hit Driver on a 56-yard completion to put the Packers at the Bears 35 with less than a minute remaining. But a spike and consecutive sacks left Favre only with time for a fourth-down heave that was picked off by Chris Harris -- his second of the day -- as time expired.

Game Notes
Four Bears starters were inactive Sunday: Safety Mike Brown (calf); defensive tackle Ian Scott (hamstring); linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer (thumb); and right guard Terrence Metcalf (shoulder). ... Packers center Mike Flanagan left the game after aggravating his sports hernia.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Team Stat Comparison

 
Chicago
Green Bay
1st Downs1624
3rd down efficiency
5-136-15
4th down efficiency
0-10-2
Total Yards292365
Yards per play5.14.9
Total Drives22
Passing157300
Comp-Att
11-2330-51
Yards per pass
6.85.9
Interceptions thrown
14
Sacks-Yards Lost
1-92-17
Rushing13565
Rushing Attempts
3321
Yards per rush
4.13.1
Penalties8-559-69
Turnovers14
Fumbles lost
00
Interceptions thrown
14
Possession26:5733:03

Passing Leaders

CHIC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Grossman11/231667.2111-9
GBC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Favre30/513176.2042-17

Rushing Leaders

CHICARYDSAVGTDLG
Jones251054.2125
Peterson8303.8013
GBCARYDSAVGTDLG
Herron14332.418
Fisher6223.706

Receiving Leaders

CHIRECYDSAVGTDLG
Berrian39331.0054
Muhammad55811.6120
GBRECYDSAVGTDLG
Driver610717.8056
Fisher8617.6012

Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTERCHIGB
TD10:00Muhsin Muhammad 12 Yd Pass From Rex Grossman (Robbie Gould Kick)
Drive: 10 plays, 68 yds, 4:51
70
SECOND QUARTERCHIGB
TD2:55Noah Herron 1 Yd Run (Ryan Longwell Kick)
Drive: 15 plays, 84 yds, 7:55
77
TD9:55Thomas Jones 2 Yd Run (Robbie Gould Kick)
Drive: 3 plays, 72 yds, 1:02
147
THIRD QUARTERCHIGB
FG5:21Robbie Gould 45 Yd
Drive: 6 plays, 33 yds, 2:15
177
TD10:59Lance Briggs 10 Yd Interception Return (Robbie Gould Kick) 247
FOURTH QUARTERCHIGB
TD7:06Antonio Chatman 85 Yd Punt Return (Ryan Longwell Kick) 2414
FG13:06Ryan Longwell 26 Yd
Drive: 8 plays, 65 yds, 1:50
2417