Bears get to Rodgers early, but then pressure disappears

For a while it appeared the missing pass rush had been rediscovered.

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was sacked twice in the first quarter Sunday at Soldier Field, and Green Bay had a net minus-3 passing yards. But the Bears got just 1 more sack, as Julius Peppers and Corey Wootton each finished with 1½.

Still, the 3 sacks were more than the Bears had in any of the previous seven games.

“For the most part, I thought we did a pretty good job,” Wootton said. “We just have to do a better job of containing (Rodgers). When he’s outside the pocket he makes plays happen.”

Rodgers finished with 291 passing yards, 3 TDs and a 116.8 passer rating.

Wootton, who had just 2 sacks in the previous eight games, is now second on the team with 7 sacks. He’s 1½ behind the leader, Peppers, who had just 2 sacks in his previous six games.

Change is constant:

Injuries and inconsistent play combined to keep the offensive line in a state of flux.

Undrafted rookie James Brown started at left guard ahead of veterans Edwin Williams and Chris Spencer. Gabe Carimi started his third straight game at right guard but was replaced by Spencer. Carimi got back in the game late when right tackle Jonathan Scott was sidelined with a hamstring injury.

Quarterback Jay Cutler was sacked four times while throwing just 21 passes, and the offense settled for a field goal after having second-and-goal at the 1-yard line late in the third quarter.

“That’s all squarely on the offensive line,” said center Roberto Garza of the goal-line failure. “We have to get them moved, and we have to get the ball in the end zone. There’s no excuse for that.”

Mistake prone:

The Bears have scored more than 17 points just once while losing five of their last six games.

“We play good football until we shoot ourselves in the foot with some stupid penalties and turnovers and stuff,” running back Matt Forte said. “No team can win, no team can play good offense and continue to shoot themselves in the foot and think we’re going to score 20-30 points per game.”

The Bears had 10 penalties for 91 yards, including 3 offensive pass interference calls on rookie wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, 1 of which negated a TD catch.

Shuffling crew:

Injuries necessitated major juggling in the starting lineup Sunday.

Without Henry Melton (chest), the Bears moved defensive end Israel Idonije to the 3-technique tackle. Idonije has moved back and forth from end to tackle throughout his nine-year career.

With strong-side linebacker Geno Hayes out, special-teams standout Blake Costanzo made the first start of his six-year NFL career Sunday at strong-side linebacker. Hayes got his first start of the season last week filling in for Nick Roach, who moved to middle linebacker to take the place of Brian Urlacher (hamstring).

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Images: Bears vs. Packers

  Chicago Bears outside linebacker Lance Briggs (55) tracks down Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) during Sunday’s game at Soldier Field in Chicago. Patrick Kunzer/
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