The Chicago Bears came out of the gates firing on all cylinders, but Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers threw a wrench into the works as they scored 24 unanswered points in a 38-17 thumping at Soldier Field Sunday afternoon.
Jay Cutler threw two touchdowns and two interceptions on the day, while Rodgers threw for 302 yards and four touchdowns as the Packers' offense got back on track. Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb each had over 100 receiving yards and two touchdowns apiece in the contest.
On their first drive of the day, the Bears ground out a length 15 play possession that ultimately gave them the lead. Matt Forte and Ka’Deem Carey both rushed for some huge gains to get the running game going in a positive direction, and Martellus Bennett snagged a first down pass to keep the drive alive. Finally, Jay Cutler found Brandon Marshall on their traditional stick route near the goal line, and after an 8:30 possession, the Bears held a 7-0 lead.
Where the Bears had ground down the clock with their solid run game, the Packers used a precision passing attack to tie things up in just over two minutes. Aaron Rodgers made a big play when he rolled out of the pocket and found tight end Richard Rodgers for a 43-yard gain. After two straight completions to Jordy Nelson, Rodgers handed the ball off to Eddie Lacy, who promptly stormed across the goal line and tied things up at 7-7.
In the final four minutes of the first quarter, the Bears began to use their running game again with great results. By the time the quarter came to an end, the Bears had 107 yards rushing in the game, and they were knocking on the doorstep of the end zone thanks to a botched 4th-and-1 play that Cutler somehow turned into a first down when he picked the ball up off the turf and ran down the field to extend the drive.
As the second quarter got underway, the Bears had several plays from in close to the goal line, but they couldn’t quite get the ball across. After a penalty to Kyle Long and a quick run by Forte, Cutler threw two straight incompletions, including a bad high pass to an open Alshon Jeffery, and the team had to settle for a Robbie Gould field goal to make it a 10-7 game just a minute into the frame.
The Packers took over on offense and promptly began to move the ball down the field once again. This time however they were the beneficiary of several questionable calls, including a 15-yard flag on DJ Williams on a third down play that allowed the drive to continue. Ultimately, the Packers scored when Rodgers found Nelson in the corner of the end zone, beating Kyle Fuller in one-on-one coverage and giving Green Bay a 14-10 lead.
Undaunted, the Bears’ offense resumed their successful ways and marched right back down the field and scored again. Brandon Marshall and Bennett each picked up first downs through the air to start the drive, and then Forte bulldozed his way through the line for another one. Finally, the Bears looked like they were going to run their reverse play with Jeffery, but the receiver broke off the route, did a 180 turn, and with the whole Packer defense moving the wrong direction he jogged into the end zone to make it a 17-14 game in favor of the Bears.
The Bears attempted an onside kick after the touchdown, but after Cornelius Washington failed to come down with the ball, the Packers got decent field position and took advantage of it. Isaiah Frey ended up isolated against Randall Cobb in a bunch formation set for the Packers, and Rodgers lofted a ball over the top that Cobb snagged and scored on to give Green Bay back the lead at 21-17 with just over a minute remaining in the half.
In that minute, the Bears moved the ball down the field quickly thanks to a run by Forte and two more huge catches by Bennett, but they ultimately were stopped just short of paydirt. As the clock expired, Bennett snagged a catch at the 1-yard line, but his attempt to put the ball over the plane of the end zone was stopped short, leaving the Bears down four points at halftime.
As the second half got underway, the Packers’ passing game continued to thrive, with Nelson grabbing another key catch. The Bears were finally able to stop them short of the end zone however thanks to a key holding penalty, and Mason Crosby narrowly curled in a long field goal to make it a 24-17 contest.
The Bears’ offense got churning in a big way on their next drive, with Forte running and catching a pass for first downs. After Cutler dove across the line of scrimmage for a first down however, he made his first big mistake of the day when his pass was intercepted. Tramon Williams jumped a route underneath to Josh Morgan and deflected the ball right into the arms of Clay Matthews, who returned it deep into Bears territory. Thanks to a quick touchdown by Nelson, the Packers extended their lead to 31-17.
On the Bears’ next drive, they got a nice play out of Jeffery on the end-around, but Cutler threw another interception to put a final nail in the coffin for the Bears’ chances. Brandon Marshall was the intended receiver on the play, but the duo miscommunicated on the route and Sam Shields intercepted the pass and brought it all the way down to the Bears’ 11-yard line.
The Bears did make a stop on third down on the ensuing Packers’ drive, but a phantom holding call on Jon Bostic gave Green Bay new life and they promptly scored another touchdown. This time it was Cobb doing the honors again, faking out the defender and catching an easy lob pass to put Green Bay up 38-17.
The fourth quarter was merely a formality after that score, with both teams simply running out the clock. Jimmy Clausen ended up coming into the game for the Bears late in the contest to save wear and tear on Cutler, and as the clock wound down the Bears watched as their record fell to 2-2 on the season.
The Bears will look to bounce back next week against the Carolina Panthers as they hit the road once again.