Vehemence and hostility will be part of Bears outside linebacker Pernell McPhee’s Thanksgiving feast this year. That’s what happens when Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is the main course on the menu.
“The only thing we need to do is hit the quarterback and win the game,” McPhee said Tuesday after practice at Halas Hall. “That’s it. Go eat us some turkey dinner. Happy Thanksgiving.”
Consider McPhee’s comments all part of the swagger the Bears are bringing with them to Lambeau Field on Thursday night. The Bears are 4-6, but there is a palpable confidence in the locker room.
The Bears will need it, too, because their last trip to Lambeau was horrendous. In Week 10 of last season, the Packers walloped the Bears 55-14 at Lambeau Field before a national audience on Sunday night. It was the Bears’ worst lost to the Packers in 20 seasons, and it came after their bye week.
In the end, that loss was the most damning moment for the Phil Emery/Marc Trestman regime, even if the Bears won their next two games before losing out. Such a humiliating defeat not only showed how far the Bears had fallen behind their longtime rival, but it also enraged the McCaskey family, who later made changes to a degree unseen before at Halas Hall.
“It was embarrassing,” running back Matt Forte said. “It’s time that the Bears stop going up there and losing games like that, because if it gets out of hand, it’s embarrassing. You go out there and put in work to not go out there and show something like that.”
McPhee and many other Bears didn’t live through, but it’s nonetheless a sour topic at Halas Hall, even if quarterback Jay Cutler said he doesn’t remember it.
“It feels like you’re getting your butt-whooped,” linebacker Shea McClellin said. “You never want to experience that again.”
That feeling applies to both sides of the ball.
“It always sticks with you,” receiver Alshon Jeffery said. “I felt like it was disrespectful with how they put up points, but at the same time, it’s our job to stop it. I guarantee it’s going to be a different outcome this time.”
That’s easier said than done, especially at Lambeau, where Packers have won six of their last seven meetings with the Bears. But Jeffery, like many other players, truly believes they’re in a better position to succeed under coach John Fox and his staff. Overall, the Bears are better and more competitive than anyone could have predicted — different not just from last year, but from Week 1, when the Bears took a 13-10 lead into halftime against the Packers.
Given the Bears’ situation, McPhee said the Bears were shocked by their success that early against the Packers — who were heavy favorites — but wouldn’t be if the same happens again Thursday night.
“We’re real different,” McPhee said. “The coaches have a learned a little more about the players.”
McPhee did offer plenty of compliments for the Packers and Rodgers. He loves facing the league’s elite. Rodgers threw six touchdown passes in the first half of the game last season at Lambeau.
“Last year was last year, man,” McPhee said. “He ain’t going to do that this year.”
How do the Bears contain Rodgers?
“Hit his ass. That’s it,” McPhee said. “Just hit him. Nothing else. We just need to hit his ass. He won’t be able to run then.”
Longtime Bears nemesis Brett Favre will be honored Thursday night, and that’s even better for McPhee. It will be his first time playing at Lambeau Field.
“I’m so excited,” McPhee said. “Team I hate. New stadium I’m playing in. Should be all fun on Thanksgiving.”
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