Bears' stunning triumph over Packers as NFL as it gets
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One simple play and the Bears are back atop the NFC North.
One play by the most unlikely of Bears — Shea McClellin — knocked out the best player in football — Aaron Rodgers — and handed the Bears a victory and a share of the division lead.
Instead of a .500 record and discussions about the off-season and Jay Cutler's future, the Bears were talking again about the possibilities that lay ahead.
That's as NFL as it gets.
Seriously, what had you been expecting the last two weeks?
Rodgers had come in with 9 wins in his last 11 games against the Bears, with most of those victories by more than a field goal — and that's when the Bears had a defense to speak of.
Throw in Josh McCown starting in Green Bay on Monday night against a Packers defense ranked ninth in the NFL, and any reasonable expectation of a close game could only have been marshaled from within the Bears' locker room — or a 4 a.m. Chicago tavern.
With Cutler holding a clipboard and Lance Briggs holding court with the linebackers on the sideline, the Bears still insisted they had a chance this time around — even as a 10-point underdog — and no one more so than head coach Marc Trestman.
What you can never forget is that this is the NFL, where the line between winning and losing is as fine as a single injury.
In this case, an injury to the NFL's best quarterback.
McClellin knocked out Rodgers with a shoulder injury on the first series of the game, and McCown easily outplayed the very forgettable Seneca Wallace, leading the Bears to a 27-20 upset victory in Green Bay.
The man who insisted the last two weeks that the Bears could win Monday night had every right to say "I told you so" late Monday evening after the Bears pulled off the shocker, but that's not Trestman's style.
Instead, he merely pointed to Sunday's game against Detroit as the next one on the schedule.
That is the new face of the Bears, a man of humility and respect, one who also understands that the NFL can turn on you in a hurry and remaining humble is always a reasonable plan.
"The big picture is enjoy this game for about 10 hours," Trestman said. "We have a long season to play and a big game Sunday."
It's been about 30 years since the Bears felt better about their quarterback than did the Packers, but that's where the Bears found themselves early Monday when McClellin caught Rodgers from behind, sacked him and drove Rodgers' left shoulder hard into the ground.
For a guy who's been properly labeled a bust, McClellin with 3 sacks gave Bears fans hope that he might amount to something with the biggest game of his career.
He knocked the best QB in the game out of action with a left collarbone injury and the rest of the game was merely a case of the Bears figuring out how to stack the box and force Wallace to make throws he was completely incapable of making.
In addition to McClellin, who pressured Wallace the rest of the game, Julius Peppers made a rare appearance and also had a huge night in the Green Bay backfield.
"We don't hope for anyone to get hurt," Peppers said of Rodgers, "but you have to play with the guys you have."
After the Bears went up 14-10 about five minutes into the second quarter, it was during the commercial timeout that the Packers announced Rodgers was out with a left shoulder injury, and the Bears had to believe at that moment that the game was theirs to win.
Green Bay got the lead back early in the second half, but again McCown led the Bears down the field, and a TD pass to Alshon Jeffery put the Bears ahead for good, 24-20, late in the third quarter.
An 18-play drive with 6 first downs led to the final field goal, killed the clock to finish the game and that was it for the Packers, who are in huge trouble until Rodgers is back in the lineup.
Having lost three of four games to fall from atop the NFC North, the huge victory against the Packers lifted the Bears to 5-3 and back into a tie for the division lead heading into what has now become the biggest game of the year when they host the Lions Sunday.
That is so NFL.
•Hear Barry Rozner on WSCR 670-AM and follow him @BarryRozner on Twitter.
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