CHICAGO (AP) -Their playoff hopes dashed and a disappointing season approaching its conclusion, the Chicago Bears finally played the way they expected.
Their defense dominated. The offense moved the ball, for a change. And the special teams were effective again, as they've usually been this season.
No wonder coach Lovie Smith was beaming Monday, a day after his team beat NFC North champion Green Bay 35-7 at frigid, wind-swept Soldier Field.
``Our team showed a lot of character,'' coach Lovie Smith said at the team's practice facility in Lake Forest, Ill. ``We've heard quite a bit about the condition of the field. And when you're not playing for a lot, for guys to come and give that type of effort, that really does show exactly what you have on your team.''
The win was the Bears' second this season over their rivals, but besides sweeping the Packers, there's been little to celebrate. Instead of competing for their second straight NFC championship, they're last in the NFC North thanks to injuries and poor execution.
But now, they have a chance to build some momentum.
A win over New Orleans would give the Bears (6-9) back-to-back wins and maybe, just maybe, would put them on a path similar to the one Green Bay followed to the top of the NFC.
The Packers won their final four games last season, finishing it with a win at Chicago last New Year's Eve, and kept the momentum going. But with the wind turning Brett Favre's passes into knuckleballs on Sunday, the Bears took advantage.
Favre was 17-for-32 with just 153 yards and got picked off twice.
Alex Brown's interception early in the third quarter set up a touchdown that made it 21-7, and Brian Urlacher returned one 85 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter to boost the lead to 35-7. Besides those big plays, the Bears blocked two punts by Jon Ryan - including one that Corey Graham recovered at the 7 and ran in for a touchdown in the third.
The Bears also got 102 yards rushing from Adrian Peterson and a steady enough outing from Kyle Orton. He was 8-of-14 with 101 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions in his second start.
``We threw it when we had to, and I probably threw it pretty effectively for the conditions,'' Orton said.
Smith said, ``That was big to see him do that. He had that look about him before the game. He was real excited about this opportunity.''
One downer for the Bears was that cornerback Nathan Vasher was unavailable following a strong performance the previous Monday in a loss at Minnesota. He had an interception after missing the 10 games with a groin injury.
``With the Monday night game, we were hoping he would come back a little bit quicker, but he wasn't able to do it,'' Smith said. ``It said a lot (about) him, for us to be able to get a good game out of him last week.''
Meanwhile, defensive end Mark Anderson, missed the Green Bay game after spraining a knee against Minnesota, went on injured reserve on Monday.
He is tied for third on the team with five sacks and is fifth on the defensive line with 36 tackles. The second-year pro from Alabama also had five tackles for loss, nine quarterback hits, broke up one pass and forced a fumble during his first year as a starter.
That wasn't what he envisioned after recording 12 sacks as a rookie. The Bears named him the starter over Brown, but he was vulnerable against the run.

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