A bad trip to Chicago

By Troy A. Sparks, BASN Staff Reporter
Updated: September 30, 2010

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CHICAGO (BASN) — Trying to get to Soldier Field in Chicago was half the battle for me. I paid a heavy price to leave the city after the game. I’ll explain later.

I left for my journey to the Windy City after giving MCJ Photographer Harry Kemp a ride downtown in Milwaukee. We attended the Bucks’ Media Day event earlier.

It was a good idea to leave Milwaukee no later than 3 p.m. for the 2-hour drive. Technically, it turned into a 3 ½ hour drive because of rush hour traffic on the Kennedy Expressway going towards downtown Chicago.

Parking wasn’t any better. I found some about a mile away. Then I followed the crowd of green and gold and navy and orange caravan of fans down a winding bicycle ramp, around the corner and up the ramp to the stadium.

Then there was the task of trying to find the press box at Soldier Field. About 10 security guards tried to direct me to the press box. I followed a couple who were going to the luxury suites, which were next to the press box.

I arrived there about a minute before the 7:30 CT kickoff.

There were a large gallery of Wisconsin state media who made their way down here. And in the same room were Mark Murphy, Ted Thompson and Ralph McKenzie. I was way on the other end of Thompson and Murphy, but if I was near them, I would’ve been interested on what they were saying during the game. One thing that really stunk was the access to wireless internet. In Green Bay, the access is free. Here at Soldier Field, it’s 35 bucks. What? On top of that, Doug Russell of Sports Radio 1250 and Jason Galleske from the Shawano Leader newspaper, both who sat on either side of me, paid for the service, but the signal didn’t work for them.

Since Soldier Field is owned by the Chicago Park District, it was time to pay the piper, which in this case is Mayor Richard Daley. The Bears have to line his pockets, too.

The rivalry between Green Bay and Chicago is the oldest in NFL history. Game No.

180 was a sellout as you would expect. The Packers took it to the Bears in the first half with a touchdown from quarterback Aaron Rodgers to receiver Greg Jennings in the first quarter with 4:31 remaining. They got a 38-yard field goal from Mason Crosby in the second quarter.

With nine seconds remaining in the first half, Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler found tight end Greg Olsen in the end zone from 9 yards out to cut their deficit to 10-7. It took them only four plays to score their TD. That was where the score stood at halftime.

Chicago mounted a charge to start the second half after getting a turnover on a blocked field goal attempt from Crosby in the third quarter. After getting down to the Green Bay 1-yard line, Cutler threw a sure TD pass to tight end Desmond Clark, who dropped the ball. That was a costly score for the Bears.

The players have Tuesdays off. That’s when some teams make transactions. I wouldn’t be surprised if Clark is deactivated for the next game or released for screwing up on a play that would’ve given the Bears a 4-point lead. Or, the team might bring in another tight end and work him out. How could Clark, a 12-year veteran drop the ball? And he wore gloves.

Chicago got their TD anyway from the special teams. Devin Hester caught a Green Bay punt at the 38-yard line and ran on the outside 62 yards for the score and a 14-10 lead early in the fourth quarter. He leaped into the stands to celebrate with the Bear fans. That screwup on the Packer side belongs to special teams coach Shawn Slocum. Maybe his punter, Tim Mashay, outkicked his coverage.

“I thought we had good coverage lanes,” Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy said. “At that particular situation, you always want to place the ball in certain places on the field against a Devin Hester.” “But you know, we’re in a backed-up situation. We’re trying to change the field position. You got to cover the ball once in a while. We need to cover the football better. It didn’t happen. Obviously it was a huge play in the game.”

The Packers scored a TD. Then The Bears scored the last six points of the game, which basically put an end to all the Super Bowl hype for Green Bay with a 20-17 loss. “It was disappointing,” Rodgers said. “It was an uncharacteristic game for us on offense. As a team, (we had) way too many penalties.”

Let’s talk about the 17 penalties in the game, which tied a team record that stood since 1945. Actually, in the official stats, Green Bay had an additional penalty with no yards lost.

“Seventeen penalties, that doesn’t cut it,” McCarthy said. “You can’t football like that. We need to evaluate that and apply to our preparation for Detroit (Sunday).”

The big penalty came on third-down with 7:25 remaining at the Chicago 15-yard line and a 10-7 Green Bay lead. Rodgers found tight end Jermicheal Finley for a TD. But hold up. That was wiped out by offensive holding by tackle Mark Tauscher. That score would’ve put the Packers in the driver’s seat for the win. Oh well, we’ll take it out on the Lions.

“I don’t feel bad about the penalties,” Rodgers said. “That’s not the way we play. That’s disappointing. We’re not that team that . . . We took points off the board. And when we do that . . . We took points off the board and took big plays off the board as well.” With the ball at their 38-yard line, Rodgers threw to receiver James Jones, who fumbled, and Chicago linebacker Brian Urlacher recovered the football. The Packers challenged that Jones was ruled inbounds. They thought he was out of bounds. The play was upheld. They also were charged a timeout.

“I was standing right there,” McCarthy said. “I had a pretty good indication of what happened. I did see the defensive backs swing out of bounds.” “So, I was just hopeful that the official maybe saw that (Jones) foot may have been hit (before the ball went out of bounds). “It was 2:18 (in the game). We had two challenges left. Obviously, that was a huge play in the game. And, maybe (the call) would swing our way.”