October 7, 2002
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Look at Brett Favre's career statistics, and a pattern begins to stand out.
Most completions in a game? Thirty-six, against the Chicago Bears. Most passing yards in a game? That would be 402, against the Bears. Longest touchdown pass? A 99-yarder, against the Bears.
Most touchdown passes in a game? Five, first done against the Bears. Most against one team? Thirty-nine against, yep, you guessed it, the Bears.
The NFL's most storied rivalry has been decidedly lopsided in recent years, and Green Bay has have Favre to thank for that. He's 16-4 against Chicago, Green Bay's opponent tonight.
Favre's not quite sure why he has had so much success against the Bears.
"Much has been made about that over the past 10 years," he said. "I don't really have an exact answer."
There's no great secret, Bears defensive coordinator Greg Blache said. Favre is just good.
And when he plays the Bears, more often than not, he's very, very good.
"He's the chairman of the board, the best of the best," Blache said. "If you're going to start a franchise, that's the guy I would start with. The guy's worth eight, nine games of wins himself.
The Bears will try to shut down Favre and the Packers in Chicago's first Monday night game in five years. Early control of the NFC North is at stake; Green Bay leads the Bears in the division by a game.
"It's always been important to win those games, but more so now because there are less of them," Favre said.
Before Favre got to Green Bay in 1992, the Packers were mired in a long, humiliating losing streak against their rivals from Illinois. The Bears had won 13 of 15, including eight straight from 1985-88.
While the Packers were wallowing in mediocrity, the Bears were winning the Super Bowl and dominating the Central, where both teams were before this season's realignment.
Then Favre arrived. He lost his first game against the Bears, then won the next two. After a loss in 1993, the Packers ran off 10 straight wins, the longest streak by either team in the past 78 years.
Even last season, when the Bears won their first Central title since 1990, the Packers beat them twice.
"I would say that 10-year span pretty much corresponds with No. 4's arrival there," Bears coach Dick Jauron said. "I think that has a lot to do with it."
Even more galling to Chicago fans is Favre's success in Chicago. He's 9-1 at Soldier Field but won't get the chance to extend his mastery there, as the Bears are playing their home games in Champaign, Ill., this season while Soldier Field is renovated.
"It will probably (be like) playing in Detroit's new dome. It didn't seem right. It was a totally different environment," he said. "It will be weird, but I know after the first kickoff, you have to play."
OF NOTE: A classic matchup of NFC North rivals. The Pack has won the past eight clashes on the road and are catching a banged-up team that has dropped two straight. Packers RB Ahman Green appears healthy and is one of the few backs who runs well against the Bears. The Packers were lucky to get past the Panthers last week and the Bears can't afford to lose, which should give them just enough of an edge to pull this one out. The Bears, remember, are masters at winning the close ones.
DARRELL FRY'S PROMISE: Bears 23, Packers 21.