Aaron Rodgers still has the Bears in his grasp
Shaking off some early pressure from the Bears’ defense, Rodgers was typically dominant — throwing for 341 yards and four touchdowns — to lead the Packers to a 45-30 victory.
GREEN BAY, Wis. — Owned again.
After being insulted by Aaron Rodgers in their loss to the Packers at Soldier Field in October, the Bears’ defense had plenty of verve but only so much gas in the tank in the rematch Sunday night at Lambeau Field.
The Bears held Rodgers and the Packers’ offense to 10 plays and no points in the first quarter — with linebackers Robert Quinn and Roquan Smith and cornerback Jaylon Johnson playing key roles. But the defense wilted from there as Rodgers’ urgency to combat an unexpected double-digit deficit applied just too much pressure to bear.
As it turned out, Rodgers was typically efficient and dominant in leading the Packers to a 45-30 victory — completing 29-of-37 passes for 341 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions for a 141.1 passer rating. It was his fifth-best passer rating in his storied history of dominance over the Bears — a 23-5 record, including the playoffs.
The loss was extra painful for the Bears. Linebacker Roquan Smith aggravated a hamstring injury in the second half and did not return.
With Rodgers at the helm, the Packers’ offense shook off the Bears’ best effort and steamrolled them to yet another victory. The Packers had 10 plays for 42 yards in their scoreless first quarter. They had 54 plays for 397 yards (7.45 avg.) in the final three quarters.
When Rodgers turned up the heat, the Bears were helpless to do anything about it. With the Bears leading 27-21 at halftime, the Packers scored 17 points on their first three possessions of the third quarter to take a 38-27 lead that seemed much more commanding than the actual 11-point difference.
On the opening drive of the second half, Rodgers never even faced a third down in driving the Packers 75 yards on nine plays, with Aaron Jones scoring easily on a three-yard run to give the Packers a 28-27 lead.
After Fields fumbled on a strip sack and Rashan Gary recovered, the Packers scored on the next play, with Rodgers throwing a 23-yard touchdown pass to Jones to give the Packers a 35-27 lead with 8:24 left in the third quarter.
The Packers were driving for another score on their next possession with a first-and-goal at the 8-yard-line. But the Bears’ defense stiffened, with nose tackle Eddie Gipson and safety Tashaun Gipson stopping AJ Dillon for no gain and Rodgers throwing two incompletions. But Mason Crosby kicked a 20-yard field goal to give the Packers a 38-27 lead.
Quinn set the tone early with a sack of Rodgers for an 11-yard loss on the Packers’ second play from scrimmage to force a punt. Quinn and defensive end Bilal Nichols combined on another sack of Rogers and a nine-yard loss to stunt the Packers second drive — with Quinn getting to Rodgers first and Nichols finishing the job.
With the Bears leading 10-0 in the second quarter, the Packers finally broke through, but the Bears made Rodgers work for it. On first-and-goal from the 2-yard line, Smith stuffed Dillon, Rodgers threw incomplete for Devante Adams and safety Eddie Jackson aggressively broke up a pass to Marquez Valdes-Scantling in the end zone.
But the Packers went for the touchdown on fourth-and-goal and got it when wide receiver Allen Lazard beat Bears backup Xavier Crawford off the line for an easy two-yard touchdown that cut the Bears’ lead to 10-7.
Facing a rare 10-point deficit against the Bears, Rodgers’ sense of urgency was evident and the Bears’ defense wilted a little more. The Packers needed just four plays to drive 75 yards for a touchdown, with Rodgers taking advantage of a favorable matchup — Adams vs. Crawford — for a 38-yard touchdown pass to close the gap to 24-21 with 44 seconds left in the first half.