By Dan O'Donnell
Note to self: when offense is firing on all cylinders in the first half, do not tamper with said offense in the second half. I'll admit, I was one of the more vocal worriers about the Packers' inability to run the football in the first four games, but even I have to admit that it's inadvisable to start playing ball control offense with 12 minutes to play in the third quarter.
I guess all good things must come to an end but, lest we forget, the Packers are still in first place and the Bears are still a game under .500. While it's hardly time to press the panic button, it is time to remember what got this team to 4-0 in the first place:
1. A lockdown defense
2. A west coast passing attack that
3. Did not turn the ball over
Instead, the Packers get penalized 12 times, turn it over five times, and snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
Here's how Falconio saw it (from the Packers Radio Network site):
"The one thing that will kill you in the NFL more than anything is turnovers. Turnovers are the great equalizer. The Packers were victims to this cold truth Sunday night against Chicago. Just look at the numbers the Bears put up: 3-14 on third down conversions, 285 net yards with only 82 coming on the ground from a supposed smashmouth team. In other words, on the surface Chicago's offense was just plain ordinary.
But dig a little bit and you'll find the Bears took full advantage of Packers mistakes. Early in the third quarter the Packers led 20-10 and had been in control throughout most of the night. Then Brett Favre is intercepted and the Bears get the ball at the Packers' 19 yard line. Even an offense as pedestrian as Chicago's could take advantage of that. Now it's 20-17. Then Charles Woodson fumbles a punt return and again Chicago gets the ball in Green Bay territory. All it took was a 17 yard completion and the Bears were in field goal range. 20-20 and it's a completely different ballgame.
Go back to the first half. The Bears show soft coverage early and Favre takes advantage, hitting his receivers on quick slants that tear open Chicago's defense. However James Jones fumbles twice, once inside the ten and a second time at Chicago's 32. There's 10 points off the board and although Chicago did nothing offensively in the first quarter they're still in the game 7-0 instead of being down 17-0. If that's the score those turnovers in the second half don't even have an effect on the final outcome. Instead, turnovers tipped the balance in Chicago's favor and eventually led to the seven point loss."