GREEN BAY, Wis. — The Bears went after Aaron Rodgers — and got him Thursday night.
“One thing we made sure we didn’t do is we didn’t get caught slowing our rush. We came after him,” Bears linebacker Willie Young said after the Bears shut out Rodgers and the Packers in the second half for a 17-13 victory at Lambeau Field. “We know he can scramble and get out of the pocket and make plays. But we were not about to slow our roll because of what he’s capable of doing.”
Rodgers was 22-of-43 for 202 yards, one touchdown and one interception for a 62.4 passer rating — his second-lowest in 16 career starts against the Bears and a far cry from 140.5 rating Rodgers had in the season opener, when he threw three touchdown passes without an interception. (The only lower rating was in the NFC Championship game after the 2010 season — 55.4.)
The Bears denied Rodgers three times in the fourth quarter, including twice in the final 4:09, with the Bears clinging to a 17-13 lead. Young sacked Rodgers on third-and-10 at the Packers 42 to end the first drive. Tracy Porter intercepted Rodgers at the Bears 45 with 3:19 left. Rodgers drove the Packers to the Bears 8-yard-line in the final minute, but missed on four consecutive passes to clinch the outcome for the Bears.
“It’s great,” Jarvis Jenkins said. “He’s a great quarterback. He’s going to go down as one of the greatest quarterbacks in history. we just stayed focused and did what was taught all during the week and got it done.”
Porter had an earlier interception nullified when he was called for illegal contact. But there was no doubt on the second one, when he stepped in front of Devante Adams to make the pick.
“The front seven did a good job of putting pressure on [Rodgers],” Porter said. “I read the route that he was trying to make. They were trying to make a quick throw and I just beat him to the spot.”
It was a huge win for the Bears and in particular their defense. The Packers gained 365 total yards but scored just 13 points — a touchdown and two field goals. In the second half, Rodgers was 9-of-21 for 87 yards, no touchdowns and one interception for a 35.2 passer rating.
“It’s a great win for us,” Young said. “To beat a team like that — big win. The sky’s the limit for us, based on where we’ve come from Day One.
“It reassures us that we can win big games. We can beat a playoff contender and a winning team. It’s just a matter of us continuing to build and not get caught up in trying to be perfect. Just taking it one day and a team and one snap at a time.
It was a marked improvement over the season opener, when Rodgers was at his best with pinpoint throws. The Bears sacked him twice Thursday night, but Houston and Young.
“Because we were actually rushing [this time],” Jenkins said. “The first game we were a little bit cautious and worried aobut him getting out of the pocket. We just didn’t worry about that tonight. We just cut it loose and got after him, mad him very uncomfortable and it worked.”
A year after total collapse led to an embarrassing defeat at Lambeau Field and 10 weeks afterRodgers confounded them in the season opener, the Bears defense redeemed itself with a credible performance that gave the Bears a chance.
It was far from flawless, but considering the circumstances, it was another sign of progress for Vic Fangio’s defense.
“We never got discouraged and never starting pointing fingers,” Young said. “Guys just kept their head down and kept playing ball. That’s one of the keys when you’re playing a playoff-caliber team. We bent but didn’t break.”