GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP)—Brett Favre flirted with another record performance, all right.
Favre threw two second-half interceptions to tie George Blanda’s career NFL record of 277, allowing the Chicago Bears to rally for a 27-20 victory at Lambeau Field Sunday night.
But Favre was responsible for only two of the Packers’ five turnovers against a banged-up but ball-hungry Bears team—a surefire recipe for an upstart team to cough up its undefeated record.
“We should have won the ballgame, but we made a lot of mistakes and they capitalized,” Favre said.
Meanwhile, Bears coach Lovie Smith could say a few words that hadn’t been uttered in Chicago in a while.
“We liked our quarterback play,” Smith said.
“He did a great job managing the game,” Smith said. “Got us out of some tough plays, made good decisions.”
In other words, he was the anti-Rex.
“This was as much as a must-win as you can get for us,” said Griese, who was 15-of-25 for 214 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. “We needed the momentum. We needed the confidence. I thought our guys on both sides of the ball came out and played with heart and character and that’s what I’m most excited about.”
The Packers (4-1) gave away a 10-point halftime lead, and Griese threw the go-ahead touchdown to tight end Desmond Clark with 2:05 left.
Favre came out blazing with 243 yards in the first half and the Packers led 17-7 at halftime despite two first-quarter fumbles by rookie receiver James Jones in Bears territory.
“I thought we were going to put a lot of points on the board,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “To play the way we did in the first half and not finish it was very disappointing.”
But the turnover-prone Favre of old reappeared in the third quarter, when he threw a head-scratching interception to Brian Urlacher that let Chicago back into the game.
Favre, who has been earning rave reviews for his careful play in the Packers’ short passing game this year, said he should have thrown the ball away.
“I was trying to make something out of nothing,” Favre said.
Griese made the Packers pay for Favre’s mistake right away, throwing a 19-yard touchdown pass to rookie tight end Greg Olsen to cut the Packers’ lead to 20-17 with 4:19 left in the third quarter.
The teams traded defensive stops deep into the fourth quarter, when the Bears appeared to convert a third-and-4 at the Packers 42 with 3:13 remaining. McCarthy challenged the spot and got the ball moved, but not enough to take away the first down.
Later facing a third-and-2 at the Packers 34, Griese faked a handoff and threw down the seam to Clark, who had broken free from safety Nick Collins and linebacker Brady Poppinga. Clark ran to the end zone, giving the Bears the lead.
“We had a shot to blow these guys out,” Collins said. “We let it slip away. We had way too many turnovers. Defense got sloppy in the second half. We’ve just got to come in tomorrow, look at the film and get better.”
Favre drove the Packers to the Bears 31 and called the final timeout with 13 seconds remaining, but threw an incomplete pass, then an interception to Bears safety Brandon McGowan in the end zone to end the game.
Favre was 29-of-40 for 322 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.
“We helped them out by putting the ball on the ground, bad decisions and stupid penalties,” Favre said.
The Bears came into Sunday’s game beaten-up on defense. Already missing safety Mike Brown and defensive lineman Dusty Dvoracek because of season-ending injuries, the Bears also were missing cornerback Nathan Vasher on Sunday.
The Bears also lost defensive tackle Darwin Walker to a knee injury late in the first quarter. Walker came back into the game, only to hobble off again in the second quarter.
“We still have a lot of guys to get healthy,” Urlacher said. “We’re not 100 percent yet, but that’s not an excuse.”
Even Griese was sore at the end of the game, wearing a wrap on his right knee.
“My knee’s fine,” Griese said. “This is just old age.”
After catching a 41-yard touchdown in the first half, Greg Jennings was taken to the locker room for X-rays on his shoulder in the second half but returned to the game. … Packers center Scott Wells also left the game with an injury. … Favre’s wife, Deanna, was an honorary Packers captain as part of the NFL’s breast cancer awareness weekend.