Rodgers' injury opens door for Bears
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The 187th meeting between the Bears and the Packers had just about everything -- everything except the starting quarterback for each team.
The Bears had the advantage there, since Josh McCown knew two weeks ago, when Jay Cutler suffered a groin injury, that he would be the man.
The Packers' Seneca Wallace was thrown into the fire with no warning after Aaron Rodgers suffered a shoulder injury on the first of 3 sacks by Shea McClellin, which came on Green Bay's first possession.
Rodgers has the highest career passer rating in NFL history. Wallace had not taken a snap in the Packers' first seven games.
The end result was a 27-20 Bears victory that left both teams at 5-3, tied atop the NFC North.
Three times McCown brought the Bears back from a deficit. The third time came late in the third quarter. McCown's high fastball found Alshon Jeffery in the end zone, just over the reach of Packers cornerback Davon House. The 6-yard TD strike was his second of the game, and it gave the Bears the 24-20 lead with 2:41 left in the third quarter. That left McCown with a 90.7 passer rating on 22-of-41 passing for 272 yards, with 2 TDs and no interceptions.
"He took control of the huddle and commanded the game," said Matt Forte, who had 24 carries for 125 yards. "It was just like Washington, (when McCown posted a 119.6 passer rating in relief)."
For most of the fourth quarter, the Bears relied on Forte's workhorse running to drain the clock, as he ran behind a bruising offensive line. His most important carry came on a fourth-and-inches at the Bears' 32-yard line late in the fourth quarter. He picked it up despite being hit in the backfield by Morgan Burnett.
"He was unblocked, but I was lucky enough to get by him," Forte said. "He almost made the play of the game."
After that the Bears were able to finish an 18-play, 80-yard drive that drained 8:58 off the clock and ended with Robbie Gould's 27-yard field goal with 50 seconds left.
McCown, who had started two games in the previous five years, looked completely at ease. He ran the offense nearly flawlessly in a first half in which he completed 14 of 22 passes for 196 yards and a 107.4 passer rating to help the Bears to a 17-10 lead.
"There's a reason he's an 11-year veteran," rookie right tackle Jordan Mills said. "He stayed poised and strong in the pocket. He's not afraid of anything."
But then Packers rookie running back Eddie Lacy, as he did much of the night (150 yards on 22 carries), rammed the ball through a Bears defense that offered only token resistance and allowed 199 yards on the ground. On the Packers' first play from scrimmage in the second half, Lacy tore through the left side of the Bears' line for 56 yards. On the next play he went the final yard to tie the game 17-17.
On the ensuing kickoff the Packers sprung a surprise onside kick that was touched first by Bears linebacker Blake Costanzo but recovered by Green Bay's Jamari Lattimore. Mason Crosby's 23-yard field goal put the Packers up 20-17.
McCown had sent the Bears to the halftime lead by directing a 12-play, 93-yard drive that led to Gould's 24-yard field goal. Starting at his own 1-yard line with 4:16 remaining, McCown hit Brandon Marshall for 16 yards. Forte ran twice for 25 yards and then McCown flipped a screen to Michael Bush for 15 yards and went back to Marshall for 14 yards. Then McCown sprinted for 20 yards before Gould converted as the first half ended.
"We had a difficult loss in Washington (45-41), and we had to spend a lot of time thinking about it," coach Marc Trestman said. "But you'd never know the way they practiced last week, like the great team they want to become. Our guys hung in against a very good team."
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