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Any field will do

Packers survive Bears on Chicago's frozen tundra

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Posted: Monday December 28, 1998 08:38 AM

  Favre from himself: Brett Favre (right) was 16-of-22 for 153 yards and was intercepted twice AP

CHICAGO (AP) -- The Green Bay Packers didn't disappoint the thousands of loyal Cheeseheads who turned Soldier Field into Lambeau South for Reggie White's going-away party. Neither did White.

Ryan Longwell kicked a go-ahead field goal in the fourth quarter and LeRoy Butler came up with a huge sack and forced fumble in the last minute as the Packers beat the Chicago Bears 16-13 in White's last regular-season game.

White, the NFL's all-time sack leader, has said he's retiring after the season, and it took him about 10 minutes to say goodbye to players at midfield. But there were still several hundred Packers fans waiting for him at the corner of the end zone, and he stopped for a few minutes, waving to them and pumping his fists in the air.

"It's not over yet," said White, whose Packers play San Francisco next weekend in an NFC wild-card game. "When it's over, it'll be a little more emotional."

White leads the NFL with 16 sacks this season. He was sackless Sunday, though he did have four tackles and a pass deflection that led to an interception and score.

The victory was the 10th straight for the Packers (11-5) over Chicago (4-12), and their second in three weeks. It kept their hopes for home-field advantage for next weekend alive, but only for a few hours. San Francisco beat St. Louis, so the 49ers will host the Packers.

"I was hoping for a little more momentum," Green Bay coach Mike Holmgren said. "We didn't function as well as I'd have liked. We were a little sloppy, but we won the game and that's what I was hoping for going into the playoffs."

The Packers muddled through the first half, picking up just three first downs, but they rallied in the second. Tied at 13, the Packers marched to the Bears 1 in their first drive of the fourth quarter. On his second try, Dorsey Levens jumped over a pile at the goal line, but Barry Minter lowered his shoulders and knocked Levens back for no gain.

That brought out Longwell, who's been accurate all season. He did miss a 39-yard field goal attempt and a point-after try earlier in the day, but his 18-yard chip shot was good, giving the Packers the 16-13 lead with 9:49 left.

"It was 13-13 and we were struggling," Holmgren said of why he didn't go for the touchdown. "I said, 'Let's get the lead, our defense is playing pretty well and put it in their hands.' I think it was pretty sound strategy."
Bear down: Chicago, led by QB Steve Stenstrom, lost to Green Bay for the 10th straight time AP 

The Bears had a chance to threaten late. Backup quarterback Doug Pederson bobbled the handoff with 2:47 left, and Lemanski Hall scooped it up to give the Bears the ball at their own 48-yard line.

Chicago got to the Packers 33 only to have Butler sack Stenstrom with 54 seconds left. Stenstrom fumbled, Butler picked it up and the Packers ran out the clock.

"I'm disappointed in the loss, having a chance to win a football game against the Packers and not being able to pull the thing out at the end," coach Dave Wannstedt said. "We had a couple of opportunities where we had to settle for field goals, we couldn't get touchdowns. That was the difference in the game."

And now Wannstedt must wait to see what his future holds. After a second 4-12 finish and third straight losing season, Wannstedt's job could be in jeopardy. Bears president Michael McCaskey said he will evaluate the entire team and its progress before making a decision. But McCaskey said he will make a decision soon, possibly as early as Monday.

"That's something I simply have to come to grips with and something I'm wrestling with now," McCaskey said in an interview with WMAQ radio before the game. "We'll try to be ready with a decision as soon as possible, out of fairness to Dave, the players, the team and the entire organization."

Although they lost, the Bears outgained the Packers 281-239 in total yards and controlled the ball for nearly three more minutes than Green Bay. James Allen, who gained 163 yards in his first start last week, wasn't as successful this week, getting 60 yards on 22 carries. Stenstrom was 17-of-30 for 199 yards.

Bobby Engram caught five passes for 68 yards, leaving him just 13 yards short of a 1,000-yard season.

"It's just a number," he said. "It was one of my goals, but right now, my concern is adding to the team and getting it back on track."

Levens finished with 52 yards on 17 carries. Brett Favre was 16-of-22 for 153 yards and was intercepted twice. Antonio Freeman caught seven passes for 65 yards and a touchdown.

Notes: Stenstrom, who did not throw an interception in the last two games, was picked off twice in the first half. ... Brett Favre is now 35-5 in games when the temperature is 45 degrees or below. Game time temperature was 37 degrees.

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