Aaron Rodgers says, loudly, what we’ve known all along: He owns the Bears
It’s impossible to argue with him on this point. The Packers’ win gave Rodgers a 21-5 career record against the Bears in the regular season.
When Aaron Rodgers scored on a six-yard run in the fourth quarter Sunday, the force of the play took him close to Bears fans at Soldier Field. This was both very convenient for him and very, very unfortunate for the paying customers. His message?
“All my [expletive] life!’’ he screamed. “I own you! I still own you! I still own you!’’
It’s impossible to argue with him on this point. The Packers’ 24-14 victory gave Rodgers a 21-5 career record against the Bears in the regular season. He owns them. He owns their coaches. He owns their players. He owns their fans. The Cook County Clerk’s Office was closed Sunday, but I believe he holds the lien on all their souls.
And, after running for that touchdown, he definitely owned this one lady.
“I looked up in the stands and in the front row all I saw was a woman giving me the double bird,’’ he said. “So I’m not sure exactly what came out of my mouth next.’’
Just the truth.
I wish I had different information to pass along, but facts are facts. The Bears simply have no idea how to beat Rodgers or the Packers. They don’t know how to beat Green Bay at home, which is supposed to be a competitive advantage but isn’t. Twenty-four of the last 29 meetings at the Bears’ place have gone in the Packers’ favor. Trust me, it wouldn’t matter where they play, Soldier Field in Chicago or George S. Halas Stadium Brought to You by RC Cola in Arlington Heights. Whatever the words say on the Bears’ building, the meaning will always be, “Welcome to Wisconsin.’’ Or, more appropriately, “I own you, Love, Aaron.’’
Rodgers didn’t even have to be spectacular Sunday. He just had to show up. He was 17 of 23 for 195 yards and two touchdowns. His fourth-quarter run wasn’t the dagger. The Bears supplied their own.
They had a chance, an alleged one, but a chance nonetheless late in the game. Down 24-14 with about three minutes left and needing a touchdown and a field goal to tie it, Bears rookie Justin Fields allowed himself to get sacked for an 11-yard loss on a third-and-15. What had been field-goal territory at the Green Bay 37 was now desperation territory at the Green Bay 48. An incomplete fourth-down pass followed. Ballgame, for all intents and purposes.
A quarterback can’t allow that to happen. Fields needed to get rid of the ball and allow the offense to live for another play.
“It’s about finishing,’’ coach Matt Nagy said. “It’s about those moments.’’
“I think I should have played better,’’ Fields said. “. . . I’ve got to be better for my teammates.’’
Like Rodgers’ words, it was another statement that couldn’t be debated.
The only thing different about this Bears-Packers game was the head-scratching nature of it. Fields and the offense started off well, scoring on their first possession. Eight plays, 80 yards. A big-boy drive. And then, for two quarters, nothing. It was as if their flight over the ocean had dropped off the radar.
Then a blip — they’re alive! — and another 80-yard touchdown drive in the fourth quarter to cut the Packers’ lead to 17-14. Fields was 5-for-5 for 64 yards and had a 14-yard scramble on that drive. You could almost feel sportswriters cracking their knuckles and beginning to type, “Justin Fields grew up in front of our eyes Sunday.’’
Then . . . a lot of nothing again.
What was all the inconsistency about? Bad pass blocking. Dumb penalties. Poor officiating. A rookie quarterback looking like a rookie quarterback. Questionable play-calling. The whole ball of wax that is the 2021 Bears’ offense so far.
Sometimes Fields looks really good. Sometimes he looks unremarkable. The knee-jerk reaction in town has been to protect the kid at every turn, but he had a hand in his uneven play Sunday.
There was some good news emanating from Soldier Field, though. Rookie running back Khalil Herbert, fourth on the depth chart to start the season, was excellent again, rushing 19 times for 97 yards and his first NFL touchdown. Great. Wonderful. But Fields and offensive coordinator Bill Lazor should have been able to take advantage of the running threat. That good a ground game should set up the passing game. It didn’t Sunday.
Afterward, Nagy talked about the importance of being resilient after a loss, clearly hoping to send a message to his team that, with the Buccaneers next on the schedule, this wasn’t the time to crawl into a hole. But Sunday’s game wasn’t about his team. It was about the Packers and Rodgers, who have won five straight after a loss in the season opener. It was about one team owning the other for years.
After time expired Sunday, the veteran quarterback took the time to speak, nicely, to the rookie quarterback.
“He just said, ‘Enjoy this rivalry,’ ” Fields said.