Archive for Sunday, December 9, 2001

re good not lucky on road

December 9, 2001


— The Chicago Bears have the Green Bay Packers right where they want them today at Lambeau Field.

That would have sounded strange not too long ago.

Not so in today's topsy-turvy NFL, where home teams are just 88-85 this season and where 30 road teams have prevailed in the last three weeks alone.

The Bears (9-2) haven't lost away from Soldier Field since Baltimore beat them in the season opener. And they've won two straight in Green Bay, although they still have to go a long way to match the eight straight times the Packers (8-3) have beaten them in Chicago.

The visiting team has won the last six meetings in the series, the longest streak since the travelers took seven straight in the bitter rivalry during the 1930s.

"They're not going to be worried about coming to Lambeau at all," Packers safety Darren Sharper said.

Green Bay coach Mike Sherman said he didn't see a home-field advantage in the showdown for control of the NFC Central.

"They have won here the last two years. Our climates are similar. This isn't like a team from the South coming up to the North and playing in rough weather," Sherman said. "I actually hope we have a nice day I usually hope for bad days because I don't think the weather will be a factor either way.

"I just think the only advantage you have in a game of this magnitude are the ones you make in the game."

Bears running back James Allen agreed to an extent.

"The advantage is going to go to the team that plays the best," Allen said. "But I think we have the advantage, because the last couple of times we've gone there, we've won."

Why do the visitors in the storied rivalry feel so welcome nowadays?

"No team has room for error when we play each other," Allen said. "Maybe (at home) we've made too many mistakes and maybe (in Green Bay) they've made too many mistakes.

"Or maybe you kind of get into a comfort level when you play at home," Allen said. "When you're on the road facing a team this good you know you have to really focus in, because obviously they have the fan support. You want to take the crowd out of it and so you know you have to be at the top."

Chicago defensive coordinator Greg Blache said the Bears are more comfortable away from Soldier Field.

"I think sometimes the crowd being against you, the hostile situation may keep your adrenaline flowing a little bit," Blache said. "You don't get the chance to relax."

Bears safety Mike Brown attributes at least some of Chicago's road success to the notion the Bears still are proving their legitimacy.

"I think we've got the kind of attitude, maybe, that we're still a little bit slighted, like we don't get respect," Brown said. "We get into that environment when we're away on the road it seems like that's when we really come together, really rally around each other and play very well.

"There's just a different attitude when we're on the road. A warrior mentality, we're just meaner."

And very, very fortunate. The Bears are wearing the "lucky" label as no other team in recent memory.

"As long as that tag sticks to us, we'll accept it," coach Dick Jauron said.

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