GREEN BAY—It wasn't just the way it happened or how it happened or where it happened. It was all of it. Beating the Packers. Winning one for Walter. Handing their most despised rivals their second humiliating loss in less than a week.
It was so much to comprehend that Curtis Enis lapped himself in cliches.
The Bears lose this one 99 times out of 100. Heck, 999 times out of 1,000. But after dropping their last three this season, their last 10 to the Packers and their last six in Green Bay dating back to 1992, Bryan Robinson ended the frustration.
With a nod to Payton for the assist, Robinson capitalized on a low snap by the Packers and blocked what would have been a 28-yard game-winning field goal by Ryan Longwell as time expired to preserve a 14-13 victory.
A little town wept. And a little kicker sighed.
The Bears' Chris Boniol surely would have been on the next Amtrak and still may be, after pushing a 32-yard field-goal try wide left with 5 minutes 56 seconds remaining. But some things are simply meant to be, and after an emotional week following Payton's death Monday from liver cancer, Bears players believed a victory was somehow waiting for them.
"I don't want to say that we came out and dedicated the game to Walter," said receiver Bobby Engram, "but we did feel his presence."
"It was a fitting end for us," said coach Dick Jauron. "You can't imagine how much this means to the team."
He did not have to elaborate. The Bears are 4-5, still 2 1/2 games off the pace in the NFC Central and not exactly sending Vegas odds plummeting on them reaching the Super Bowl. But nine games into Jauron's head coaching regime, his team has now knocked off the Vikings in Minneapolis and the Packers in Green Bay.
Mike Ditka's teams did that four times, Jim Dooley's once and George Halas' once.
"I have just one word," said running back James Allen. "It's sweet. Sweetness."
Inspired by the stirring tributes this week to Payton, the Bears had their best rushing game of the season with Curtis Enis (88 yards in 20 carries), Glyn Milburn (54 yards in three carries) and Allen (17 yards in four carries) combining for 159 yards.
"As a player and a kid, you dream of playing in the NFL," said Enis, aided in his running on several occasions by 6-foot-7-inch, 340-pound James Williams literally propelling him from behind. "And then to be in an organization like this where the greatest player in the National Football League has left something for you to live up to, it's kind of like the creed of running backs in Chicago. You have to live up to that."
It was Milburn, however, who made the biggest impact. With the Packers expecting pass on a third-and-10 late in the first quarter, Milburn gave the Bears their first lead at 7-3 with a 49-yard scamper off the draw. The touchdown capped a series in which each of the three backs had 11-yard gains and set in motion a day in which the Bears finally achieved the balance they have been striving for in recent losses.
It was not without cost. The Bears played most of the game without a quarterback in reserve after losing starter Cade McNown to a sprained right knee in the first quarter. And they have most likely lost No. 3 receiver Macey Brooks for the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.
Third-string quarterback Jim Miller relieved McNown, but left with his bruised hand packed in ice, prompting a postgame locker-room visit from former Bears quarterback Dave Krieg, now out of football.
Miller was admittedly shaky in the first half, connecting on just 3 of 11 passes for 22 yards and throwing three interceptions, including one on a Hail Mary. "Obviously, I don't get a lot of reps," said Miller, "but I get paid to play."
His counterpart, Brett Favre, coming off one of the worst games of his career on Monday, found tight end Tyrone Davis in the end zone with Bears cornerback Tom Carter draped on his back for a 7-yard touchdown to give the Packers a 10-7 lead to close out the half.
But the two teams traded momentum throughout the game and especially in the third quarter. First, officials took away a 24-yard reception by Jeff Thomason and what would have been a Packers first down on a fourth-and-4 from the Bears' 40, ruling the tight end did not have clear possession before losing it out of bounds.
On the ensuing series, a 49-yard drive by the Bears was cut short on a fumble by Enis at the Green Bay 11. But Miller completed his longest pass of the day on the first play of their next possession, connecting with a leaping Marcus Robinson for a 33-yard completion that propelled the Bears to the decisive score.
A 6-yarder from Miller to Bobby Engram in the corner of the end zone with 29 seconds left in the third made it 14-10 and it was up to the heavens from there. That, and pent-up emotion from both teams that erupted into occasional extracurricular activity.
"The lack of respect is what got to me," said tackle Mike Wells. "It just seemed like we had everybody against us today. There was even a cop on the sideline yelling at us and I said, `Get out of our bench,' and he was like, `Oh no, this is my area.'
"I couldn't believe the audacity some of the people had. Even their waterboys didn't respect us.
"We're going to have to beat them 10 times in a row before they might even start to, which is fine with me. We'll line up and play them all the time."
Wells' teammates might not be quite so eager but they do know a sign when they want to see one, particularly with Vikings coming to Soldier Field next week.
"This could be a pivotal point," said tackle Jim Flanigan. "Hopefully we can take this momentum and keep moving forward. We're still in the hunt."
It may take a few days, however, to come down from this one.
"This is great for us," said Bryan Robinson. "This is great for the city of Chicago. And it's for you, Walter. It's for you, buddy."