GREEN BAY—Covered in sweat, grass stains and a smile, Olin Kreutz paused in the end zone Sunday night to take one last look around Lambeau Field, soaking in what the Bears had accomplished.
They had plenty to ponder.
"And now I get to go celebrate with my teammates," Kreutz said before running off for the locker room.
That's the kind of day Sunday was for the Bears, one where every bit of good news seemed to bring more, and most every move headed for a positive conclusion.
The biggest came when coaches and players donned hats and T-shirts that celebrated the present"2005 NFC North Champions"while teasing the future in a reference to Super Bowl XL. A happy but not entirely raucous locker room chose to talk mostly about the latter.
"We're excited about it, but at the same time, there's work to be done," said safety Mike Brown, idle Sunday but still a go-to voice. "Our main goal is to be champs, man, the real champs. This is a stop along the way. We're going to make a run."
With Rex Grossman directing an offense that posted its most yards in seven weeks, anything seems possible.
Making his first start since Sept. 26, 2004, Grossman finished 11-for-23 for 166 yards and one touchdown with one interception. Grossman's presence helped force Green Bay to drop an extra defender outside the box, which Thomas Jones exploited for 105 yards on 25 carries.
And the Bears converted 38 percent of their third downs, 11 percent higher than their season average.
"Kyle Orton is our MVP for the way he played," Kreutz said. "But Rex is a veteran and our starter. I think everyone saw why today. He's a great quarterback."
Defensively, the tackling looked shoddy early and the Bears surrendered 365 yards, not to mention some late Brett Favre magic. But they also delivered two interceptions from Chris Harris, one from Charles Tillman and one from Lance Briggs, which he returned 10 yards for their fourth defensive touchdown.
"The turnovers were big," coach Lovie Smith said.
Briggs' interception and Harris' second pick were the biggest.
The former gave the Bears a seemingly commanding 24-7 lead with 4 minutes 1 second left in the third quarter.
The latter came on the game's final play, after Favre had hit Donald Driver for 56 yards to the Bears' 35 and one touchdown separated the teams. Tank Johnson and Alex Brown sacked Favre on back-to-back plays before Harris' pick.
Antonio Chatman had awakened the crowd of 69,757, featuring plenty of vocal Bears fans, with an electrifying 85-yard punt return with 7:54 to play.
After a Bears possession fizzled, Favre marched Green Bay from its 28 to first-and-goal at the Bears' 8. The league's No. 1 red-zone defense came up big, holding Green Bay to Ryan Longwell's 26-yard field goal with 1:54 remaining.
Longwell had missed earlier from 38 and 39 yards.