Forget the records, fans: Aaron Rodgers always poses a problem for Bears
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Here he comes again, folks, cruising down from up north, kind of like Santa Claus, if that old boy wore green and yellow.
Problem is, Aaron Rodgers is not bringing presents for Chicagoans.
As one of the handful of future Hall of Fame quarterbacks playing in the NFL, Rodgers is bringing nothing but lumps of coal for Bears people everywhere.
Regardless of what honors he earns when his career is rolled up and tied with a Packers bow, he is, right now, at 35, a Bears slayer of epic proportions.
This will be Rodgers’ 21st regular-season game against the Bears, and he has won 16 of the previous 20. (And one of those losses came when he broke his collarbone in the first quarter in 2013.) He has thrown 45 touchdown passes and only nine interceptions against the Bears, and his career passer rating against them is a spectacular 108.3.
Forget that the Packers are 5-7-1 and seemingly down on their luck, and the Bears are 9-4 and on a roll.
This is Aaron Rodgers, and unless there’s a spike driven through his icy heart, he can cut the innards out of any Bears team assembled.
Just recall the season opener in which the Bears were leading 20-0 late in the third quarter. The game was all but gift-wrapped in blue and orange. Abruptly, Rodgers directed three quick touchdown drives, with the last one culminating in a 75-yard pass to wide receiver Randall Cobb with 2:13 left. Packers win 24-23.
Dagger to the soul.
Even though the Packers have injuries and weaknesses in their lineup and a sudden coaching change, they are not a toasted team. There is still an outside chance they could finish with a winning record and make the playoffs. And they seem to have turned over a new leaf.
Asked about the new attitude after a dominant victory Sunday against the Falcons, Rodgers said, ‘‘We had a really good week of practice. Now I know sometimes that gets thrown around in situations like this where it’s trying to galvanize a sort of false confidence. But in actuality, it was probably our cleanest, fastest, most efficient week of practice this season.’’
In other words, new coach Joe Philbin has helped players forget the reign of longtime coach Mike McCarthy. This could be a revitalized Packers team.
Rodgers himself feels reinvigorated and selfless.
‘‘I was just trying to have fun out there,’’ he said after the Packers’ 34-20 victory against Atlanta. ‘‘The guys knew basically by the way I was playing that I was willing to put my body on the line and take a couple of shots. I’ve got a little bit of a sore back.’’
Indeed, Rodgers rushed for 44 yards, the most he has gained on the ground this year. A sore back might be raw meat for the Bears’ defense, the guys who attacked Rams quarterback Jared Goff like jackals in Sunday’s 15-6 win at Soldier Field.
Dominant Bears defensive lineman Akiem Hicks has even tried to use as bulletin-board fodder part of Rodgers’ hardly inflammatory synopsis of what the Packers had to achieve to get to the postseason.
They needed to win on the road, get some luck from other teams and, along the way, ‘‘go to Chicago, a place we’ve won a number of times, beat them,’’ etc.
Rodgers is 7-2 in Chicago.
Oh, and did we mention that Rodgers has the NFL record for most consecutive passes — 368 — without an interception? He has a total of one this year. Even in a lousy season, the guy is uncanny. And unflappable.
‘‘You need a little bit of good fortune when you get a streak like that,’’ he tossed off dismissively when questioned about the accuracy mark.
So the Bears’ defense will tee off on him. As it always does. And maybe this time with Hicks, Khalil Mack and those aggressive defensive backs, the Bears can make Rodgers look normal, make him look old and over the hill, even.
It could happen. By all rights, it should happen. Except for the fact that Rodgers is a genius in his chemistry lab.
‘‘Most people might have expected us to throw in the towel,’’ he said of the turbulence and losing that led into the Falcons game. ‘‘Guys didn’t.’’
Nor has he.
And he’s comin’ to town.