"The rivalry with the Bears has been around since the dawn of time, but now with both teams again having so much young talent at the same time, it's back and as strong as ever," says Packers running back Ahman Green. "The Bears' defense has really come along nicely, especially guys like [Brian] Urlacher and Mike Brown, whom I played with at Nebraska. Add the fact that our home states border one another, and you've got everything you need for a fun pair of games each year."
Urlacher has quickly become the Bears' leader as a hard-hitting, fast-moving middle linebacker made from the same mold as Butkus and Singletary. With Urlacher smashing opponents from sideline to sideline and Packers quarterback Brett Favre at his hard-nosed best, the Bears and Packers are definitely back where they belong.
"I'm thrilled that the Bears are this good, because this rivalry is what the NFL is all about," Favre says. "I can't wait to come down the tunnel for games like this."
"There's usually a lot of talk associated with the game before, during, and after," says Steelers head coach Bill Cowher. "But there's also a ton of respect between these two teams. It's going to be a hard-hitting contest every time. It's a game that comes down to the wire regardless of the circumstances."
Last season, the circumstance was the AFC Central crown, which Kordell Stewart and his Steelers took back from the Ravens thanks to a huge victory in Baltimore.
"I love playing those guys," Stewart says. "Their defense is obviously awesome and their guys love to talk trash. It's a great challenge and feels extra satisfying when you win a big one against them."