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Green Bay Packers will be challenged to score late vs. Chicago Bears

Dec. 31, 2010
 
Kareem and Pete preview Packers-Bears game
Kareem and Pete preview Packers-Bears game: The Chicago Bears say they're playing Sunday's regular-season finale at Green Bay to win, but Kareem Copeland and Pete Dougherty aren't buying it.
Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers' offense better get points against Julius Peppers and the Chicago Bears early. History suggests the Bears defense won't allow much scoring in the second half. / Evan Siegle/Press-Gazette

In denial

Teams that have allowed the fewest points after halftime this season (includes points given up in overtime).

Pts. Team Record
97 Bears 11-4
111 Chargers 8-7
113 Buccaneers 9-6
115 Packers 9-6
134 Titans 6-9
135 Steelers 11-4
139 Ravens 11-4
141 Falcons 12-2
142 Saints 10-4

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Here’s an unsolicited piece of advice for Mike McCarthy and the Green Bay Packers: Start the rematch against the Chicago Bears as you did when playing the Cowboys and the Vikings in November.

Green Bay raced to its biggest halftime leads of the season in dispatching Dallas and Minnesota. A lead similar to the 21- and 14-point advantages the Packers enjoyed in those contests would be welcome Sunday as Chicago owns the stingiest second-half defense in terms of points given up.

Of course if manufacturing large leads were that easy, Green Bay would own one every week. In fact, the Packers have been out front at halftime in 11 of 15 games this year (winning eight) and have been tied in two others (losing both).

Green Bay’s only comeback after trailing at the half occurred in October against the Vikings at Lambeau Field. Down 17-14, the team squeezed out a 28-24 victory after Brett Favre’s third- and fourth-down throws to Randy Moss failed to connect in the closing minute.

Coming back against the Bears won’t be easy based on what’s transpired this year. Chicago is the only team to have limited opponents to fewer than 100 points after halftime.

Chicago hasn’t held as many leads at the break as the Packers. But when out front, they have gone 6-1.

Washington is the only team to have mounted a comeback. Behind 14-10, the Redskins managed to turn one of six second-half Chicago turnovers into a touchdown to win 17-14.

Not surprisingly that score came in the third quarter. Chicago’s 46 points allowed in the fourth quarter is a league-low.

Talking turnovers

Only one statistic is needed to determine which team has won each of the last 15 Packers-Bears games: turnovers.

Turnovers have been a part of this rivalry as much as bruising tackles and bad blood. There has been at least one turnover in each of the 179 regular-season games in this series dating to 1921.

Since 2003, the team that has won the turnover battle has won the game. In the three instances in which both teams committed an equal number of turnovers, the winner was the club that scored the most points as a result of those miscues.

In the most recent meeting on a Monday night in September, Green Bay gave up the ball twice. Chicago lost it once.

Both Aaron Rodgers and Jay Cutler threw first-half interceptions, but neither mistake was converted into points. James Jones’ fourth-quarter fumble, however, set up Robbie Gould’s game winning 19-yard field goal with four seconds left.

A year ago, the Packers swept the Bears. In a 21-15 win at Lambeau Field, Green Bay had no turnovers to Chicago’s four. In the rematch at Soldier Field, both teams had two turnovers, but Green Bay parlayed their recoveries into 11 points while the Bears settled for 7 as the Packers prevailed 21-14.

This year, Chicago has forced 33 turnovers, tied for third best in the league along with Philadelphia. Green Bay has 30 takeaways.

Extra point

For as much heat as the Packers special teams have taken in five years under coach Mike McCarthy, the unit has surrendered just two touchdowns via kick return. Only the Bills have been better allowing just one return for a score since 2006. The Bears have also given up two TDs.

Green Bay would be tops in this category if not for Chicago’s Devin Hester. Hester returned a punt 84 yards for a touchdown in McCarthy’s debut, a 26-0 blowout by the Bears in 2006, and he zipped 62 yards to pay dirt with a Tim Masthay punt earlier this year.

Regular-season series

Overall: Chicago leads 91-82-6

At Lambeau Field: Packers lead 29-22

Starting quarterbacks

Packers: Aaron Rodgers (26-20 overall; 3-2 vs. Chicago)

Bears: Jay Cutler (34-33; 1-3 vs. Green Bay)

Once a Bear, now a Packer

There are no former Bears on the Packers’ roster.

Once a Packer, now a Bear

There are no former Packers on the Bears’ roster.

Eric Goska is a Press-Gazette correspondent, a Packers historian and the author of "Green Bay Packers: A Measure of Greatness," a statistical history of the Packers. E-mail him at aegoska@sbcglobal.net.

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