Grading the Bears: Final week
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Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) talks to Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler (6) after their NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 29, 2013, in Chicago. The Packers won 33-28 to capture the NFC North title.
What was the better play by Aaron Rodgers: When he winged a 48-yard, game-winning TD strike to Randall Cobb on fourth-and-8 with 38 seconds left? Or when he barked at wide receiver Jarrett Boykins to pick up a live ball, which was ruled a fumble, when every Bears defensive player thought Rodgers had just thrown an incomplete pass? Boykins' 15-yard fumble-return TD late in the first half was a backbreaker and another embarrassing moment in a season full of them for the Bears' defense.
Jay Cutler needed a five-star-worthy performance in this make-or-break game. He didn't deliver it. His numbers (15-of-24 passing, 226 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT, 103.8 rating) were good. Not great. So now the big question: Will No. 6 be back?
4 1/2 footballs
Matt Forte (3 TDs) showed why he got selected to the Pro Bowl for the second time. His 110 rushing yards gave him a career-best 1,339 for the season with 9 TDs. He speared a 4-yard TD grab, and his 4 receptions hiked his season total to a career-best 74.
3 1/2 footballs
Brandon Marshall was targeted 10 times and caught 6 passes, giving him an even 100 receptions for the season. Nice spin move in the end zone on Tramon Williams on Marshall's 5-yard TD grab. Alshon Jeffery needed 4 catches for 90 on the season. He got 3. He was targeted eight times.
Rookie right tackle Jordan Mills injured his foot on the Bears' first series and didn't return, but the Bears didn't miss a beat. Left tackle Jermon Bushrod got flagged for a rare false start. In the end, 121 rushing yards (5 yards per carry) and 1 sack allowed is a good day.
Same ol' lack of pass rush, although this might have been a top-five game this season for Julius Peppers (1 sack, 4 tackles). Shea McClellin got flagged for roughing up Rodgers, after the Bears had seemingly held on third down from their own 28. But the call looked questionable. Wonder if Scott Tolzien would have gotten that call.
Hey, a Packers running back didn't rush for 100 yards! James Stark (88 yards, 8.0 average) and Eddie Lacy (66 yards, 3.1 average, TD) were good but not great. Lance Briggs had a sack and another TFL and was better than he was in his return from injury against Philly. Game-best 12 tackles for James Anderson.
That was Chris Conte's last game as a Bear, right? At least he had a red-zone interception of Aaron Rodgers. That's a story for the grandkids. Rodgers wound up throwing for 318 yards and 2 TDs.
If that was Devin Hester's last game as a Bear, at least it was a good one. He had a 49-yard punt return and 39-yard kickoff return. Robbie Gould got a new contract during the week and then got no field-goal tries.
Marc Trestman's Bears looked listless for the first half, and even the head coach admitted his team was lucky to be down only 6 points. He unsuccessfully challenged on a downed punt by Adam Podlesh early in the game. At least the Bears were in this game.
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