Mike McCarthy: No game in NFL like Packers-Bears rivalry
NOV 01, 2013 5:12p ET
Recent success against Chicago hasn't changed Green Bay's mindset, though. While the Packers haven't lost to the Bears at Lambeau Field since 2007, this game will always mean a lot to players and coaches.
"This is the game every year," coach Mike McCarthy said. "In my humble opinion, this is the game in the NFL. What it stands for, the tradition of these organizations, the great players that have played before us, the great games they've had before us. We have an obligation to take that commitment, that emphasis and that energy into this football game."
In a rivalry that dates back to 1921, it's the longest in NFL history with 186 games played between the two storied franchises.
"It's a special game," quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. "The fans obviously really enjoy it. As players, we feel the intensity of the game. A lot of history and tradition here."
The recent history and tradition has Rodgers dominating Chicago. Since taking over as Green Bay's starting quarterback in 2008, Rodgers has an 8-2 record over the Bears. Both of those losses came on Monday Night Football, but neither happened at Lambeau Field.
Packers nose tackle B.J. Raji said "there's no love lost" for Chicago, but he added there is "respect" from the two sides. Rodgers even spent nearly a minute this week touting the Hall of Fame credentials of injured Bears linebacker Lance Briggs, insisting that Briggs "hasn't gotten the due he deserves." Respect, indeed.
"I think the teams of yesteryear maybe hated each other a little more than these two do, but I'm sure the fans still feel the same way," Rodgers said.
The word of the week in Green Bay's locker room is "intensity," and the young Packers players have noticed.
"The intensity has picked up a notch," rookie Micah Hyde said.
In order to get the message across to rookie running back Eddie Lacy, coaches told him to treat this game like it's Alabama vs. Auburn.
"So I guess it's pretty serious," Lacy said.
Veteran linebacker A.J. Hawk, who will be playing in his 18th Packers-Bears game, doesn't think rookies even need any sort of pep talk.
"I think they kind of feel it from everywhere around here," Hawk said. "Not like an added pressure or anxiety, but I think they feel the importance of this and kind of the magnitude of the game. Especially (because) it's a Monday night in Lambeau Field, so I don't think you have to get guys excited for that. They're ready for it."
If Chicago is going to get in the win column against Green Bay for the first time since September 2010, it will have to happen with backup quarterback Josh McCown. With starter Jay Cutler out with a torn groin, the Bears turn to the 34-year-old with 33 NFL starts. One of McCown's starts was in Week 16 of the 2011 season in Green Bay, a game that the Packers won, 35-21.
"You just have to approach it as if Cutler is playing because both of those guys, in my opinion, are real good quarterbacks," safety Morgan Burnett said.
One difference that multiple Green Bay defensive players mentioned is that McCown wants to run. When McCown stepped in for an injured Cutler midway through their game two weeks ago, he ran four times for 33 yards. In his career, McCown has 670 rushing yards.
"Obviously Jay Cutler is a dynamic passer," Raji said. "He can run when you let him, but this guy (McCown) is a different quarterback. Film doesn't lie, and he's looking to run a lot sooner than Cutler. Cutler's going through his reads and progressions, but this guy is taking a look and if it's not there, it's a 'Let's go' type of thing."
McCown has two really good receiving targets to throw to, with the proven veteran Brandon Marshall and the upstart second-year Alshon Jeffery. Already combined for over 1,100 receiving yards between the two of them, Marshall and Jeffery will be the most difficult two-receiver threat that the Packers have faced this season.
"Either one of those guys could be a top No. 1 receiver," Burnett said.
After all the game-planning and preparation that goes in this week, the players can hardly wait for Monday night to arrive.
"The atmosphere is about to be wild out there," defensive lineman Mike Daniels said. "So, come on, man, you can't buy this feeling."
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