Special teams again were prominent in a Chicago Bears win. This time, Devin Hester had nothing to do with it.
Special teams again were prominent in a Chicago Bears win.
This time, Devin Hester had nothing to do with it.
In Sunday's 35-7 success over Green Bay, the Bears blocked two punts, scoring on one; and made both their field goals. Add in what Green Bay couldn't do -- it had the two punts blocked, fumbled another and had one travel 9 yards -- Chicago derived plenty of momentum from the unit.
Darrell McClover blocked a Jon Ryan punt in the second quarter, with Brendon Ayanbadejo recovering. Charles Tillman blocked a Ryan punt deep in Green Bay territory midway through the third quarter. Corey Graham scooped it up and took it seven yards for a 28-7 cushion.
"I just wanted to go out and make a couple tackles, make some plays," Graham said. "I didn't expect a touchdown. After it happened, I was very excited. I got my first NFL touchdown."
Graham wasn't as surprised as he was thrilled.
"We watched film all week, and we'd seen a lot of teams get close," he said. "They left some opportunities for other teams to make plays. Other teams got very close. But they were just fortunate. When you're winning with things going great for you, things happen like that -- no one blocks them. We knew we were going to have a great opportunity."
Graham said the wind helped.
"It definitely slowed them down a bit; the snap wasn't as good, the hold wasn't as good, the catch wasn't as good in all the situations," he said. "It wasn't as normal as it would have been. Coach (special teams coach Dave Toub) told us before the game we were going to blitz them regardless."
"It was the wind, mainly," Toub said. "We knew exactly where they were going to walk in which direction. When you know that, you can overload that side on the rush."
Tillman was just glad to do his part.
"I am glad I was able to help end the drought that they had (of not having a blocked punt against them in 12 years)," Tillman said.
As for Hester, he had one kickoff return for minus-1 yards and one fair catch of a punt.
How cold was it?
Garrett Wolfe sat at his locker applying generous amounts of lotion to his arms and thighs after the game.
"I normally don't," he said, "but my body is burning right now. The wind took it to another level."
Said fellow running back Adrian Peterson: "It was cold; I'm not going to lie. But you know, it's all in the job. Sometimes there's pain, sometime there's cold, sometimes it's fatigue. You've just got to deal with it."
Chicago now has at least one sack in 20 straight games, its longest stretch since going 21 games from Sept. 23, 2001, through Oct. 20, 2002. Alex Brown took Brett Favre down for a 4-yard loss to extend the streak.
Brett Favre fell to 12-3 at Soldier Field. The most wins he has anywhere else is six (Metrodome). Also, his 25 touchdown passes at Soldier Field are the most he's had anywhere except Lambeau Field. ... Favre started his 252nd straight regular-season game, 272nd including playoffs.
"It was cold. It was cold as hell. I'm not going to lie to you. I haven't thawed out yet," Favre said at his postgame news conference.
Home field overrated?
Brett Favre wonders, after the way his team played Sunday, if having home-field advantage over Dallas would be that big of an advantage.
"Sure, we'd much rather play them in Green Bay," he said. "But judging by the way we played today, we may be better off playing somewhere else. I have no idea. Now we know what's at stake. Let this be our wakeup call."
Practice makes perfect
Bears kicker Robbie Gould got to take a free shot after a penalty was called on Chicago as he lined up for his first field goal try Sunday. He missed wide left.
"It doesn't hurt to get an extra kick in," he said. "I didn't hit it as clean as I would liked to have. I got a chance to go out there and knock another one through. It all worked out."
He hit from 31 yards then and later connected from 35 yards, pushing his season total at home to 12 of 13.
"I don't want to get crucified for this, but good luck to Minnesota and Green Bay in the playoffs. If we don't do it, why not someone in our conference? Everyone talks about the NFC North as a weak division. Why not make a run and make things look a little stronger?"
-- Bears corner Charles Tillman
Brian Urlacher’s 85-yard interception return for a score was his team's first defensive touchdown this season. The pick was his fourth this season, a personal best. ... Adrian Peterson had his second 100-yard rushing game of his career on a personal-high 30 attempts. His 22 first-half rushes were the most by a Bear in 16 years. ... Green Bay's Donald Driver became the team's third receiver ever to reach 500 catches. He had four receptions Sunday to give him 503. Sterling Sharpe leads (595) with James Lofton second (530). Driver also now has a reception in 95 straight games. ... Green Bay still holds a 19-17 edge over Chicago at Soldier Field. The Bears lead the overall series 90-79-6, having gone 6-2 under Lovie Smith. ... Green Bay had won eight of its last nine road games and 16 of 18 games overall. ... Mike McCarthy was 5-0 on the road within the division, and was 8-2 overall against NFC North foes. ... Green Bay had won eight of its last nine division games. ... Green Bay remains one win shy of a franchise record for wins in a season. ... Green Bay began the weekend with the NFL's best mark in December since 1997 at 37-12. Under McCarthy, they were 6-1.
Rex Grossman was Chicago's third quarterback, while S Josh Gattis, G/C Josh Beekman, WR Mike Hass, LB Lance Briggs, CB Nathan Vasher, DE Mark Anderson and DT Darwin Walker were inactive.
That meant DT Babatunde Oshinowo, LB Darrell McClover and TE John Gilmore were activated, and Israel Idonije started for Walker, Alex Brown started for Anderson, Jamar Williams started for Briggs and Trumaine McBride started for Vasher.
Deactivated for Green Bay were Aaron Rodgers (third QB), WR Shaun Bodiford, DB Jarrett Bush, FB Korey Hall, OL Allen Barbre, DT Ryan Pickett, TE Ryan Krause and DT Conrad Bolston.
Justin Harrell started for Pickett.
Matt Trowbridge contributed to this report. Reed Schreck is the NFL writer for the Rockford Register Star. Contact him at 815-987-1381 or email@example.com.