Aaron Rodgers beats Bears again, with no hard feelings

Rodgers saluted Bears fans after clinching a 28-19 victory. “You never know when it’s going to be your last time playing at a place,” he said. “As much as the fans don’t really like me, I do have respect for the city of Chicago and their great sports fans.”

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Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers waves to fans at Soldier Field as he walks off the field following the Packers’ 28-19 victory Sunday. Rodgers is 25-5 in his career against the Bears.

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers waves to fans at Soldier Field as he walks off the field following the Packers’ 28-19 victory Sunday. Rodgers is 25-5 in his career against the Bears.

Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Bears fans saluted Aaron Rodgers as they always do Sunday at Soldier Field.

“A lot of middle fingers,” Rodgers said.

And Rodgers saluted them right back, except this time with an actual salute after a successful two-point conversion all but clinched a 28-19 victory.

“You never know when it’s going to be your last time playing at a place,” Rodgers said when asked about the salute to the fans. “I’ve had a lot of great moments at this place. As much as the fans don’t really like me, I do have respect for the city of Chicago and their great sports fans here, and this stadium. It’s been a lot of fun over the years to go to battle, win or lose.”

It wasn’t a vintage Rodgers performance. Playing against a short-handed Bears defense with only one starter in the secondary, Rodgers was 18-for-31 passing for 182 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions for a pedestrian 85.7 passer rating.

“We got the dub,” Packers running back AJ Dillon said. “That’s Aaron Rodgers for you.”

Even in leading the Packers from a 19-10 deficit late in the third quarter with 18 unanswered points in the fourth quarter, there were none of the incredible Rodgers moments that have indelibly marked this era of the Bears-Packers rivalry. The Packers did more damage on the ground, rushing 11 times for 103 yards on three decisive drives, while Rodgers threw for 60 yards, plus a 38-yard gain on a pass-interference call.

“You definitely draw a lot of confidence and good memories off this matchup,” Rodgers said. “We’ve had a tremendous amount of success during my time against them. It’s been a special rivalry that I’ve been a part of — and there were probably a lot of people that felt good at 19-10. So did I.”

As much as Rodgers respects the rivalry, he doesn’t understand the Bears’ side of it as well as he thinks. There were probably very few Bears fans who felt good at 19-10. If anything, Rodgers himself has conditioned them to fear the worst.

And he delivered. Even if it was without his signature touch, this latest victory had his fingerprints all over it. It’s no coincidence the Packers executed flawlessly in crunch time with Rodgers in command.

“We put a lot on his plate to make sure we’re in the correct run calls, and he does a great job of handling that,” coach Matt LaFleur said. “He always gives you confidence that we can execute whatever the play is.”

Rodgers’ intuition played a key role. In fact, on wide receiver’s Christian Watson’s clinching 46-yard touchdown run on a jet sweep that gave the Packers a 28-19 lead with 1:51 to go, Rodgers was so certain the play would work he had the forethought to ask LaFleur whether Watson should score or maintain possession to burn time.

“I expected them to play some man coverage, so at the last second, I ran over to the sideline to verify we weren’t in a Rolex situation, where we wanted to not score,” Rodgers said. “And I think Matt was maybe a little surprised by the question.”

LaFleur said to score, Watson did and the game was over.

“This was a different Bears team,” Rodgers said. “Obviously, Jaylon [Johnson] is a super-talented player, but a lot of young guys are playing outside of that, other than [veteran DeAndre Houston-Carson].

“But they’ve got a talent[ed] young quarterback [Justin Fields] who’s got a chance to be around for a long time. A really good running back [David Montgomery]. A stud young receiver. EQ [Equanimeous St. Brown] making plays, so it was a competitive game. But [I] definitely didn’t want to be walking in here [the interview room] losing to the Bears. To win against the Bears is always a little more special.”

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