It was a cold day by the lake. Aaron Rodgers returned after seven weeks off from a shoulder separation to do his patented belt move with 38 seconds remaining to end the Bears’ season. I should end this report here and move on to thinking about the Hawks, who are used to succeeding in frigid conditions. But….
The Packers converted on numerous fourth down attempts during their final drive before eventually scoring a 48-yard touchdown to win the game. Rodgers found Randall Cobb all alone behind the secondary for a wide open pass that floated into Cobb’s hands like a duck to a pond. Cobb was eating dinner behind the Bears’ secondary that he ran past and was not followed. S Chris Conte missed his assignment and surely had to account for his omission in the locker room. The season-ending play eradicated Conte’s first-quarter interception that shut down Rodgers’ drive and returned momentum to the Bears.
The only Packers touchdown in the first half was after Julius Peppers batted the ball out of Rodgers’ hand, which was picked up and run in by Brandon Boykin with the play still live. The automatic review of the scoring play allowed the officials to determine that it was a fumble, to the astonishment of all those in attendance. Trestman said during the halftime that he was very disappointed in the call because the team works on those kinds of situations all the time.
The Bears got a huge game from Matt Forte, who was his usual all-purpose self in racking up 157 yards and three touchdowns in the losing effort. Jay Cutler put up respectable numbers in passing for over 225 yards and two scores and only one interception. Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall contributed to keep the game close, but in the end it wasn’t enough as Chicago just didn’t score enough offensively to overcome the defense that kept giving up critical plays when they mattered, most notably the lapse on the final play.
Aaron Rodgers’ day was up and down. He opened the game being intercepted by the later-goat Chris Conte that seemed to spell disaster for Green Bay from the start. The Packers’ running game helped Rodgers to get back on track with workhorse RB Eddie Lacy carrying the ball 21 times for 66 yards and a score. In addition to Lacy, RB James Starks had a resurgence as he was handed the ball 11 times for an average of eight yards per carry. The day belonged to Rodgers because in the second half he must’ve gotten more comfortable causing him to torch the Bears. Rodgers connected with Jordy Nelson 10 times for a 161 yards and finished the day with 318 yards and two scores while recording a quarterback rating of 85.
If there are things Bears fans can look at to account for losing the division, it’s the defense and their inability to cause turnovers they were accustomed to doing when the unit was healthy. The Bears were completely decimated by injuries on all three levels and in particular the secondary where captain Charles Tillman could’ve made a huge difference, like covering Jordy Nelson.
The games that really sunk the Bears season were the losses in Minnesota, at home to Detroit, and the Redskins. Those three games would’ve made all the difference in the world in terms of this season, and even one of those games would’ve put Chicago in next weekend’s Wild-Card.
The Bears are so yesterday. The Hawks play the Kings tonight, which is both a wonderful déjà vu experience and a stepping stone to this year’s Stanley Cup.