The Bears took the field Sunday with a new GM, head coach, coaching staff, schemes and football operations staff. All but one defender — cornerback Kyle Fuller — was either new to the Bears’ starting lineup, or to his position.
Aaron Rodgers was the same, though.
And he’s now, after a 31-23 victory at Soldier Field, 12-3 lifetime against the Bears.
“He’s a great player,” Bears coach John Fox said. “We’re both looking forward to competing against each other for some time to come.”
Someone should ask Fox: Why?
Rodgers is the green-and-gold monolith standing between any NFC North team and greatness. He completed 18-of-23 attempts for only 189 yards Sunday, but threw three touchdowns and posted a 140.5 passer rating.
“You come in and say, ‘Aaron Rodgers throws for 189 yards and we lose?’ (Crap). That shocked me,” outside linebacker Pernell McPhee said.
Jared Allen, who played his first game at outside linebacker, liked those odds.
“If you would have told me we held Aaron under 200 yards and we’re still going to lose,” he said, “I probably would have lost that bet.”
Share Events on The CubeThe Packers punted twice Sunday, two times more than last year at Soldier Field. Four drives ended with a touchdown, a fifth with a field goal.
The Bears’ new 3-4 defense, whose plan was to push the pocket back into Rodgers’ face, produced zero sacks and zero quarterback hits despite debuting exotic personnel pairings and schemes.
Still, the Bears led 13-10 before Rodgers marched the Packers 59 yards to start the second half, taking a 17-13 lead on James Jones’ second touchdown catch.
It wasn’t until the Bears’ failed fourth down and Jay Cutler’s fourth-quarter interception that the Packers pulled away. Cutler completed half his 36 attempts for 225 yards and one garbage-time touchdown to Martellus Bennett, leaning mostly on Matt Forte’s 24 carries for 141 yards.
“I guess to the outside world, it’s a plus to play Green Bay relatively close, right?” Allen said. “For us, at least for me, it’s not good enough, bottom line.”
Trailing by one, the Bears allowed the Packers to hold the ball for 9:31, converting three third downs and one fourth down, before scoring on a five-yard Randall Cobb catch early in the fourth quarter.
“He was just finding where we weren’t,” defensive lineman Will Sutton said.
Defensive backs struggled accordingly. Alan Ball struggled with Jones, whose 34-yard catch was Green Bay’s longest play. Nickelback Sherrick McManis blamed a technique mistake for Cobb’s score, while Kyle Fuller’s pass interference at the two-minute warning led to one final touchdown.
“Not only does (Rodgers) put them in position to make plays,” Ball said, “he puts the ball where it needs to be.”
For the Bears to be where they need to be, they’ll have to solve Rodgers. After giving up 93 points to the Packers last year, progress was measured in small increments Sunday.
“Usually people think Bears playing Packers is going to be a blowout,” Sutton said. “But we were there through all four quarters.”
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