Bears' D frustrates Packers

October 18, 1991|By Fred Mitchell | Fred Mitchell,Chicago Tribune

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- It squirms. It wiggles.

Is it alive?

For good measure, the Chicago Bears stomped on it, mercifully putting the Green Bay Packers' offense out of its misery last night.

Holding Green Bay to a paltry 138 total yards, the Bears wrested the home-field advantage by turning the cheers of 58,435 Lambeau Field onlookers into boos in a 10-0 Bears victory.

When the Bears defense wasn't busy intimidating the Packers, the offense was re-establishing its running game, helped by a couple of crucial officials' calls.

"I'm glad to have a win," Bears coach Mike Ditka said. "I don't care what it looks like. Our offense isn't scoring, so we're going to have to shut out a lot of people.

"We've played three Central Division teams [Tampa Bay, Minnesota and Green Bay] and have won three games. I can't emphasize how important it is to control your division."

Improving to 5-2, the Bears ended their two-game skid and remained on the heels of the front-running Detroit Lions (5-1) in the NFC Central race.

The Packers fell to 1-6, losing their fourth straight. Coach Lindy Infante said he wanted to "apologize" for his team's performance and put the blame on himself.

"It was an all-time low," Infante said. "We certainly bottomed out. Maybe it was a reflection of me in some way, shape or form."

Still, the Bears trailed the National League champion Atlanta Braves in scoring for most of the first half.

But an 8-yard touchdown pass from Jim Harbaugh to tight end James Thornton with 1:44 left in the half provided a 7-0 lead.

It was Harbaugh's first touchdown pass to a tight end in his NFL career.

"Thornton was the third guy I was going to," Harbaugh said. "He just kind of worked off his man [Chuck Cecil] and was wide open."

Harbaugh wound up completing 18 of 29 passes for 142 yards and a touchdown. He also was intercepted once and scrambled effectively for 29 yards on six carries.

"It was a nice game for the offensive line because there were some holes out there tonight," he said. "That was probably the best run-blocking I've seen this year."

The Packers, who entered the game ranked last in the NFC with a minus-9 turnover ratio, benefited from two Bears turnovers in the first quarter.

Receiver Tom Waddle fumbled after a 6-yard reception on the Bears' first possession. Mark Murphy caused the fumble and linebacker Johnny Holland made the recovery at the Packers' 34.

The Bears also lost the ball when Harbaugh's deep pass intended for Wendell Davis was picked off by Cecil with 6:55 left in the first period.

"As you could see, it wasn't pretty," Ditka said. "But they're trying. Our defense played pretty good. I really believe that it was more what our defense was doing and less of what their offense was doing."

Packers quarterback Don Majkowski connected on only three of 16 passes for 32 yards. He was 0-for-6 in the second half before former Bear Mike Tomczak took over. Tomczak was 4-for-9 for 36 yards and one interception.

"He [Majkowski] scares the heck out of me," said Ditka. "I didn't see anything negative. He looked awfully quick. The only thing, I think, in the past he probably would have run on a couple of those [incomplete passes]. But I don't blame him. I would get rid of it, too."

Veteran Shaun Gayle, in his first extended play since returning two games ago from a leg stress fracture, was credited with six tackles.

"It feels good," Gayle said. "[Today] is what I'm concerned about. That's when I'll feel the aches and pains, because it has been a long time since I hit somebody."

Linebacker John Roper, rookie defensive lineman James Williams and cornerback John Mangum earned sacks.

Neal Anderson, courageously playing with a tender left hamstring, picked up 81 yards on 16 carries for a 5.1-yard average.

"I tried to spell Neal as much as I could," said running backs coach Johnny Roland.

Fullback Brad Muster had 30 yards on nine carries. He also caught three passes for 24 yards and blocked effectively.

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