Bears Can't Let Packers Run Wild
Next game: Monday, December 22nd at Chicago
LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) -- The last time the Chicago Bears prepared for the Green Bay Packers, they insisted they wouldn't veer from their usual plan.
They were going to stop the run; had to stop it. Period.
Well, maybe they should have listened to themselves.
After all that talk, the Bears dared the Packers to run wild and were handed their most lopsided loss of the season, a 37-3 thrashing last month at Lambeau Field.
"We got shocked that they were able to run the ball," defensive end Adewale Ogunleye said. "They got some big chunks. It was like 1 yard, 2 yards and then a 50-yarder or a 30-yarder. I think we were shocked, and we didn't react well to that. ... They got our attention, and we'll see them Monday night."
The Bears would have to beat the Packers and Houston and hope Minnesota loses its final two games in order to win the NFC North. The Vikings (9-5) hold the tiebreaker over Chicago and would clinch the division by beating Atlanta on Sunday. The odds of a wild card berth are so slim that they're barely worth mentioning, and Chicago would be eliminated if Dallas, Tampa Bay and Philadelphia win this weekend.
This is not what the Bears envisioned.
They expected to contend in the NFC after missing the playoffs last year, but they're on the brink of elimination because of their inconsistent play and some brutal losses. They blew late leads while dropping back-to-back games against Carolina and Tampa Bay in September, and lost by two to Atlanta in October after going ahead with 11 seconds left.
As hard as those losses were for them to stomach, the Bears' worst effort was against Green Bay.
They spent much of the game in the Cover-2 and did not bring up a safety to help stop the run, something they had been doing. By the time it was over, the Packers had a season-high 200 yards -- more than double their average entering that game (98) -- and Grant had his second 100-yard game.
A breakout star during the Packers' run to the playoffs last season, he missed part of training camp in a contract dispute and was bothered by a hamstring injury after signing a four-year deal.
Against the Bears, he broke off a 35-yard run and set up a touchdown plunge with an 18-yarder.
"(It was) everybody being in the right position," Grant said. "Linemen doing a great job covering bodies, wide receivers doing a great job as well."
The gains on the ground might not have been a problem had the Bears taken away the pass, but they've been vulnerable to it this season. And that game was no exception, with Aaron Rodgers throwing for 227 yards and two touchdowns without getting sacked.
The Bears showed they can stay with a pass-oriented team if they shut down the run, as they did in their overtime win over New Orleans last week, but they could be in trouble if they don't contain Grant.
"We know they're going to try to run the ball after the success they had," Ogunleye said. "Guys have to get off the blocks. ... It's going to start with the front four."
Some help from the back wouldn't hurt, either.
Although the Bears aren't as deep as they were in that first game now that nose tackle Dusty Dvoracek (arm) and cornerback Nathan Vasher (wrist) are out for the season, they might have better luck with the current starters.
Vasher's replacement, Corey Graham, is a better tackler, and Anthony Adams has played well in Dvoracek's place.
He has 16 tackles over the past two games -- third on the team behind Mike Brown and Brian Urlacher (18 each) in that span -- after seeing little time for most of the year.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)