CHICAGO — It didn't matter to the defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers that they needed the winless Chicago Bears' unsuccessful two-point conversion with 1:54 to go to hang on for a 24-23 victory Sunday.
"Everyone expects the defending champs to blow everyone out every week. Well, that's not going to happen," Packer wide receiver Antonio Freeman said. "We're satisfied where we are."
Brett Favre overcame an early interception to throw three touchdown passes and help the Packers (5-2) move into a tie for first place in the NFC Central. Four of the Packer victories have been decided by six points or fewer.
"I told the guys the same thing I have told them all season--enjoy the win," Coach Mike Holmgren said. "I don't think we have played our best football this season . . . but it is a wonderful win. We are very, very happy."
The Bears (0-7), meanwhile, matched the worst start in their 78-year history and were defeated by their oldest rivals for the eighth consecutive time. Chicago also lost its first seven games in 1969, when it finished 1-13.
Still, Bear running back Raymont Harris was encouraged by his team's performance.
"I'm really excited because I've seen something in my team that I haven't seen in the previous six weeks," said Harris, who rushed for 101 yards and a touchdown.
Asked if the loss was nothing more than a moral victory, he smiled and said: "If that's what it sounds like, I'm feeling it."
The Bears pulled within a point on Erik Kramer's 22-yard touchdown pass play to Chris Penn. Rather than kick the extra point, Chicago Coach Dave Wannstedt went for the lead. But Kramer's short pass sailed over Harris, who was covered on the play.
"It was a no-brainer," Wannstedt said of the decision to go for two points. "We told the team when we got the ball, 'If we go down and score, we're going for the win.' It was a play that our entire team was comfortable with."
Said tight end Keith Jennings: "We had to do it. We're trying to win it. Win it, win it, win it. If we won, you guys [in the media] would be calling Wannstedt a genius."
The Packers expected the decision.
"When you're 0-6, you have to go for it," Freeman said. "That's the game right there--no time outs, no wins, nothing to lose. Go for it."
One thing the Packers can go for is the upcoming open date in the schedule.
"It's a good time for a bye week," said Favre, who was 19 of 35 passing for 177 yards but nearly had four of his throws intercepted. "We need to sit back and tell ourselves that we're back in this thing."