(Chicago) Thirteen years after their last appearance at the Super Bowl, the Packers of Green Bay would return to the big game.
The players in yellow and green can now pack their bags as they defeated the Chicago Bears yesterday at Soldier Field. A 21-14 victory obtained by the National Conference finals against their old rivals in cold weather before 62,377 fans, many dressed warmly to the team colors of Wisconsin.
For the Packers, it will be a first appearance at the Super Bowl since January 1998, when Brett Favre and his band had lost to the Denver Broncos and John Elway. Thirteen years is maybe not such a big shortage on the planet NFL, but the Packers' locker room, they celebrated as if it was the first appearance of the club's history. Shouts, dances and improvised hats championship of the National Conference who were on everyone's heads. This contrasts with the Bears' locker room, a little further, who was quiet, very quiet.
In the stands in the early evening, you could hear shouts and chants from supporters of the Packers, who did not want to leave.
"We said from the beginning of the series that we have won 16 quarters of play, and so far it has won 12 quarters of play, wanted to tell Mike McCarthy, Packers coach, recalling that still a big game at his club. It is not yet over for us. "
The victory at Soldier Field has been gained more difficult than expected. Initially led by quarterback Aaron Rodgers (17 in 30, 244 yards, no touchdown and two interceptions), the Packers took a lead of 14-0 in the first half on a touchdown run by Rodgers and Racing hit the half James Starks. With the Bears' attack which was going nowhere, that game seemed already over.
Jay Cutler, quarterback for the Bears, has often lacked precision in the first two quarters, and took a break messed up, who suffered a left knee injury. He came back one time attempt to pass early in the third quarter before putting his coat and sit on the bench for good. His absence was also much talk in Chicago (see other article).
His reservist Todd Collins took over, but it was really bad, unable to complete one pass in four attempts.
Panicked, the Bears turned to Caleb Hanie, third quarter, a 25 year old who had completed only eight passes in three seasons in the NFL. Hanie led the Bears to a first touchdown early in the fourth quarter, a beautiful drive that ended with the stroke of half touchdown Chester Taylor.
But Hanie erred rookie - can you blame him? - When he was unable to identify the coverage Packers later. So he fired straight into the hands of big lineman BJ Raji, who galloped with his 337 pounds over 18 yards into the end zone.
"All the guys on this team have made big plays throughout the season," said Raji calmly in the dressing room of her own. I just had to catch the ball and do my job. "
The young Hanie has led his people to another touchdown, a 35-yard pass to receiver Earl Bennett, but he could not pass the miracle late in the game. His last pass was intercepted by Sam Shields, Packers, 37 seconds remaining. "We now have the opportunity of a lifetime, the chance to bring the Lombardi trophy home," launched the recipient Greg Jennings, who tallied 130 yards for the Packers.
Following two weeks in Arlington.