Green Bay 17, Chicago 7

GREEN BAY, Wis., Dec. 9 (UPI) -- Ahman Green rushed for 125 yards Sunday, including a tiebreaking 12-yard touchdown run with three minutes left in the third quarter, as the Green Bay Packers pulled into a tie for first place in the NFC Central Division with a 17-7 victory over the Chicago Bears.

Green Bay (9-3) owns the tiebreaker edge, having swept the season series. The Packers snapped the Bears' six-game winning streak with a 20-12 victory at Soldier Field on Nov. 11.


"It (beating the Bears) is a good thing because we're basically in the driver's seat for the NFC Central," Green said. "We've got to continue what we're doing -- playing well, running well, passing the ball well."

The Bears, who came in with the NFC's top rushing defense, allowed a 100-yard runner for the first time in 21 games.

"The defense knew we had a 100-yard running streak and we are disappointed because he (Green) had so many yards on us," Bears linebacker Warrick Holdman said.

"This is our goal every week -- to get that type of rushing output," Green Bay coach Mike Sherman said. "We ran the ball well against them last time -- I think Ahman had 93 yards -- so we felt confident in our run game."


The Bears (9-3), who have not been to the playoffs since 1994, could have become the first team to clinch a spot in the postseason with a win and some help.

"For the big picture, it is awfully good for us with four games remaining," Chicago coach Dick Jauron said. "Today was disappointing. It is not a very satisfying feeling. Lots of things went wrong and they moved the ball in chunks against us."

Chicago (9-3) has posted four come-from-behind wins in the fourth quarter this season, but there was no amazing comeback for the Bears at Lambeau Field.

They scored just one touchdown in two games with Green Bay, managing four field goals in the earlier meeting."

Green, who carried 29 times, became the first Packer to rush for 1,000 yards in consecutive seasons since John Brockington from 1971-1973.

"I was impressed by the way we were able to run the ball," Green Bay quarterback Brett Favre said. "Our front five, they basically controlled the game for us."

Favre broke Dan Marino's NFL record by surpassing 3,000 yards passing for the 10th straight season. Favre completed 15 of 27 for 207 yards with a touchdown and an interception.


The Bears had a chance to get back in the game, but Jim Miller overthrew open tight end Fred Baxter on fourth and three from the Green Bay 45 with 5 1/2 minutes left in the game.

Chicago's hopes ended when Miller could not complete a fourth and five pass from the Bears' 41 with 2 1/2 minutes remaining.

Green Bay improved to 29-9 in December since 1992, the best mark in the NFL during that span.

The Packers held the Bears to just 189 total yards. Miller completed 18 of 33 for 139 yards with an interception while Anthony Thomas led Chicago on the ground with 54 yards on 15 carries.

"We have to find a way to get it into the end zone," Miller said. "Third and long just doesn't work. We have to execute better and move the chains."

Green's touchdown run capped a nine-play, 91-yard that gave the Packers a 14-7 lead. Ryan Longwell added a 27-yard field goal with 12:40 left in the fourth period.

The Packers drove 64 yards on nine plays on the opening possession to take a 7-0 lead on Favre's three-yard pass to Antonio Freeman. It was Freeman's 57th career receiving touchdown.


But Green Bay's offense bogged down and the defenses settled in. The Packers missed a chance to increase their lead when Longwell's 41-yard field goal caromed off the right upright with 6:03 left in the first half.

Linebacker Brian Urlacher gave the Bears a chance to get on the board by returning Favre's interception 25 yards to the Packers' 17 with 32 seconds left in the half. But Paul Edinger missed a 23-yard field goal as time expired.

Autry Denson returned the second half kickoff 35 yards to the Chicago 45 and the Bears took advantage of cornerback Mike McKenzie's 24-yard interference penalty to tie the contest on Thomas' 19-yard run just 79 seconds into the third quarter.

The Packers were saddled with poor field position in the third quarter as two consecutive punts by Brad Maynard were downed inside the 10.

Green Bay started the second drive at its nine, but Favre got the Packers out of the shadow of their goal line with a 20-yard completion to tight end Bubba Franks.

Green also was key during the drive, ripping off a 29-yard gain for a first down at the Chicago 24. Green also converted a third and one from the 15 with a three-yard and scored on the next play around left end.


"I think every play in that drive was critical that moved the chains," Sherman said. "I can't picture one play that was the pivotal play. They're all pivotal when you're moving the length of the field."

Safety Darren Sharper intercepted Miller on the Bears' next possession, returning it 14 yards to midfield to set up Longwell's field goal.

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