Packers, rain pour on Bears

November 01, 1994|By Bill Plaschke | Bill Plaschke,Los Angeles Times

CHICAGO -- Upon the starched white shirt of the modern NFL last night, there was splattered a hunk of mud.

Not to mention grass stains. Midfield paint stains. Dirty water stains. And tears.

For once, two teams wearing "throwback" uniforms participated in a throwback game. The 1937 Green Bay Packers defeated the 1925 Chicago Bears, 33-6.

If you believe it was anybody else out there in steady, pouring rain, 30-degree temperatures and 46-mph winds . . . . then you need to brush up on your football history.

"Nobody in the stands, mud on the field, guys were saying it was like we were all kids playing in the park," said Guy McIntyre, Packer guard. "Tonight was all football, baby."

And it was all Packers, and all old-fashioned.

It was Packer quarterback Brett Favre not completing a pass until midway through the third quarter.

It was Favre scoring the Packers' second touchdown in the first half on a 36-yard bootleg run. In it, he directed blockers, avoided grasping defenders, and dived over Bear Jeremy Lincoln at the goal line.

"The last time I made a run like that was against North Bay in fifth grade," Favre said.

It was all that, and more.

It was Bryce Paup, a 250-pound Packer linebacker, catching as many passes from Bear quarterback Erik Kramer in the first half as any Bears receiver -- two.

It was Paup rumbling for 37 yards with those two interceptions, thwarting the Bears' two best drives of the half, helping the Packers to a 14-0 lead they never lost.

It was also Paup shivering uncontrollably during a postgame interview, speaking through chattering teeth as he sat in a once-white jersey that was dark brown and stinking.

"This . . . . was . . . . a . . . . must-win . . . . game . . . . for . . . . us, Paup said of his team, which pulled even with the Central Division Bears at 4-4.

It was all that, and more.

If it wasn't the worst playing conditions in the 147 games between these teams, it was at least the worst in the last 97.

"I've seen it snow, I've seen it colder, but I've never seen it as bad as this," said Packer publicist Lee Remmel, who has seen the last 97 games in the NFL's oldest rivalry.

Said Favre, a Mississippi native: "It was like Hurricane Camille, only 80 degrees colder."

It was all that, and more.

It was Bear punter Chris Gardocki kicking a seven-yard punt.

It was Packer kicker Chris Jacke stumbling on a kickoff, failing to even touch the ball while his offside teammates raced downfield.

It was Packer kick returner Charles Jordan fumbling the opening kickoff not because he couldn't catch, but because he couldn't run. As he leaned out for the ball, his cleats stuck in the field.

"It was like quicksand out there," said Packer defensive end Sean Jones. "This was Central Division football at its best."

And the Bears at their worst.

They committed five turnovers while the Packers committed none. They used Kramer in the first half, Steve Walsh in the second half, and neither looked good enough to beat the Packers on their own.

Even their fans quit, leaving Soldier Field in droves as early as the second quarter. Considering there were just 47,381 fans at the outset -- there were 19,563 no-shows -- the stadium was nearly empty by the final gun. All that remained, it seemed, were several hundred screaming, soaking Packers fans.

"Hey, Bears," shouted one rotund, green-shirted man whose Halloween makeup had long since streamed down his cheeks. "Trick or treat!"

But Bear coach Dave Wannstedt got even. With six seconds remaining in the game and the rain turning to sleet, he called time out. The fans cursed even louder.

"It's like tonight, we were all one heartbeat," said Edgar Bennett of the maligned Packers.

Bennett rushed for 105 yards and scored three touchdowns as he helped his team show the football world that their fortunes, like always, are turning with the weather.

"We sent a message to the rest of the league tonight that we are not just going to lie down and die," said Sean Jones, whose team, along with the Bears, trail the division-leading Minnesota Vikings by two games.

The Bears, meanwhile, touched hearts only at halftime, when the numbers of Gale Sayers (40) and Dick Butkus (51) were retired.

Both men were dressed in garbage bags that had nothing to do with Halloween. And Butkus proved once again that he is the master of the unexpected, this time by choking back tears during an acceptance speech in which he claimed that George Halas was "up there somewhere, watching."

Watching? Heck, he was coaching.

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