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Eddie Jackson suffers sprained ankle after snapping Rodgers’ record streak

Eddie Jackson’s latest big play came with a catch.

The second-year safety fortified his Pro Bowl credentials with a pair of key plays that helped the Bears finally stymie Aaron Rodgers in a 24-17 victory that clinched the NFC North title.

None was bigger than his interception in the end zone off a deflection by teammate Roquan Smith that all but clinched the game with 3:04 to play. It ended Rodgers’ NFL record streak of 402 consecutive passes without an interception.

But it might have come with a cost. Taking the ball out of the end zone on the interception, Jackson’s right leg twisted awkwardly as he tried to cut, and he quickly went to the ground. He was limping noticeably as he left the field and headed toward the locker room — though on his own power.

Bears safety Eddie Jackson returns an interception of Aaron Rodgers in the fourth quarter Sunday. Jackson's pick ended Rodgers' NFL-record of 402 consecutive passes without being picked off. The Bears won, 24-17 at Soldier Field to clinch the NFC North title. | Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Bears safety Eddie Jackson returns an interception of Aaron Rodgers in the fourth quarter Sunday. Jackson's pick ended Rodgers' NFL-record of 402 consecutive passes without being picked off. The Bears won, 24-17 at Soldier Field to clinch the NFC North title. | Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Coach Matt Nagy said Jackson suffered a sprained ankle. The Bears will know more about the extent of the injury by Monday or Tuesday. But Nagy acknowledged relief that the injury wasn’t worse — though a sprained ankle could still keep Jackson out for a while.

“He’s a pretty big part of our defense,” Nagy said.

Teammates hoped for the best. Jackson has six interceptions and three touchdowns. Besides his interception Sunday, Jackson also had six tackles and a key pass breakup against Davante Adams on an ever-dangerous Hail Mary by Rodgers on the final play of the first half.

“When you saw the play, it looked pretty bad,” cornerback Prince Amukamara said. “But Eddie’s a fighter, so hopefully it’s not too bad. He’s been great for us all year — definitely an All-Pro, Pro Bowl guy. This is the type of player that he said he was going to be. He had a chip on his shoulder, being drafted in the fourth round [in 2017]. And he’s shown he’s one of the best in the league.”

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Third-year safety Deon Bush replaced Jackson on the Packers’ final drive and likely would be the next man up.

“I feel like I’m ready,” Bush said. “This is my third year here. I practice every day. I get a lot of defensive reps in practice. We’ll see how everything goes. [But] I’m ready.”

The Bears’ defense showed off its depth and balance in thwarting Rodgers’ bid for another second-half rally.

Sherrick McManis, playing for injured nickel back Bryce Callahan, had a nifty pass breakup against Randall Cobb inside the Bears’ 5-yard line on a third-and-seven play. The Packers were forced to settle for Mason Crosby’s 43-yard field goal that cut the Bears’ lead to 14-6 early in the third quarter.

Isaiah Irving, playing for injured outside linebacker Aaron Lynch, had a pair of pressures — working against All-Pro tackle David Bakhtiari — on back-to-back plays that preceded Jackson’s interception.

The Bears attacked Rodgers from all angles, with outside linebackers Leonard Floyd and Khalil Mack each getting three quarterback hits — and reserves McManis, Irving and rookie Bilal Nichols contributing one each.

Bears fans likely were bracing for Rodgers to burn them again. But, with Jackson’s pick the key play, it didn’t happen this time. Rodgers went 16-for-28 for 182 yards, no touchdowns, one interception and a 61.9 rating in the second half. In Week 1, he threw for 273 yards and three touchdowns for a near-perfect 152.7 rating in the second half of the Packers’
24-23 victory.

“Forget Bears fans, Bears players [were bracing for Rodgers’ response],” Amukamara said. “I was even holding my breath on the onside kick — just because you’ve seen it so much.

“We’re just glad that we finished. The pressure that Vic [defensive coordinator Vic Fangio] was sending and different looks, I really -believe that made a difference in the game.”