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Favre Better Than Average Bears

Pro football: Packer quarterback passes for 359 yards and three touchdowns in 34-21 victory.

October 08, 2002|SAM FARMER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — One of the attractions in this college town--temporary address of the Chicago Bears--is an 18-wheel fuel tanker that someone has converted into an enormous barbecue. It is, without question, the NFL's longest grill.

But it's not to be confused with the NFL's longest grilling.

That's what the Bears are enduring, and Green Bay quarterback Brett Favre is turning the spit. He has beaten them nine consecutive times on the road, and did so in grand style Monday, throwing for 359 yards and three first-half touchdowns in a 34-21 victory before a sold-out--and shivering--crowd at Memorial Stadium.

Looking as if he spent last week in Chicago's defensive meetings, Favre repeatedly found gaping holes in the coverage and zipped pinpoint passes through the cool night air.

"That's one of the most impressive displays I've seen from a quarterback," Packer cornerback Darrien Gordon said. "It was just fun to sit back and watch that."

The victory gave the Packers (4-1) a two-game lead over the second-place Bears (2-3) in the NFC North, and improved Favre's record to 17-4 against Chicago in the last decade.

As Favre jogged to the locker room after the game, Green Bay fans serenaded him with chants of "MVP! MVP!" an award he earned three times from 1995 though '97.

"You've just got to give him credit," Packer center Frank Winters said. "He's a guy that gets pumped up to play the Bears. He's just a great player."

The Bears made things interesting, partly because Packer kicker Ryan Longwell missed two field goals in the second half, and a third was blocked.

Chicago quarterback Jim Miller orchestrated a nine-play, 62-yard drive midway through the fourth quarter that he capped with a 21-yard touchdown pass to John Davis, the tight end's second score of the night. That gave the Bears hope and cut the lead to 34-21.

The Bears tried an onside kick and failed, but got the ball back when Longwell missed a 50-yarder with 3:22 remaining. Needing two touchdowns to pull out a victory, Miller hooked up with David Terrell for a 52-yard gain to the Packer seven. But on the next play, with 2:26 on the clock, his pass for Anthony Thomas was intercepted in the end zone by linebacker Nate Wayne.

That's when the crowd of 63,226 started streaming for the exits. There was no denying they got their money's worth, at least in seeing a tremendous performance by Favre.

"He was into this game, and his leadership and his performance were a big part of our victory," Packer Coach Mike Sherman said. "He was pretty close to playing about as good a game as you can play. He was extraordinary."

On the first play of Green Bay's second possession, Favre rolled left and heaved a pass that flew 60 yards before landing softly in the hands of Donald Driver, who made the catch at the 25 and glided into the end zone for an 85-yard touchdown.

The next time the Packers got the ball, Favre complemented Green Bay's solid ground game with surgically precise passing, finally zipping one to tight end Tyrone Davis for a 19-yard score. Next, it was a five-yard touchdown toss to Bubba Franks.

Clearly, Favre lived up to the advance billing of Bear defensive coordinator Greg Blache, who called him "the chairman of the board, the best of the best, the Mac Daddy of football."

Meanwhile, Packer defensive end Joe Johnson was the game's Smack Daddy. When the Bears were threatening to score midway through the third quarter, Johnson flattened Miller and sparked a huge defensive play. The ball popped out of Miller's hands and was plucked out of the sky by defensive end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, who dashed in the other direction for a 72-yard touchdown.

On another night that could have been the knockout blow, but the Bears kept things fairly close for much of the game, even when their offense was sputtering.

Safety Mike Brown, who scored a pair of game-winning touchdowns in overtime last season, and scored at Buffalo last week, almost struck again Monday.

Late in the second quarter, he scooped up a fumble by Driver and weaved his way 35 yards to the Green Bay four.

Three plays later, Miller found Davis with a one-yard touchdown pass.

But the star of the night was Favre.

"If you've got to start a franchise, that's the guy I would start with," Blache said. "The guy's worth eight, nine wins [a season] himself. He's probably the scariest guy in the league."

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