Packers don't get in Bears' way
GREEN BAY, Wisc. -- Not many of the previous 191 meetings between the Bears and Packers have been played in wetter weather than the two teams encountered at Lambeau Field on Thanksgiving night.
A steady rain began several hours before the opening kickoff and continued unabated throughout the game. But it didn't seem to bother the 78,488 in attendance -- at least not until the final minute, when the Bears clinched a rare, 17-13 victory at Lambeau.
That was the score with 4:09 left in the game and 90 yards to go for a touchdown for quarterback Aaron Rodgers, and the Packers' offense began to move. Rodgers ran twice for 28 yards, then threw to Richard Rodgers for 12 yards to midfield.
And then, the Bears did what they almost never do against the Packers. They made a game-saving play. More specifically, cornerback Tracy Porter made a game-saving play, intercepting Rodgers with 3:19 left.
But Rodgers got one more chance. The Packers drove to midfield by the two-minute warning but had no timeouts left. Still they drove inside the Bears' 10.
And then the Bears did it again. They stopped Rodgers four times with goal-to-goal from the eight-yard line.
It was a milestone victory for the Bears, who are now 5-6 after dropping the Packers to 7-4.
The victory reversed a trend that had grown weary to Bears players. The Bears came in having lost 10 of the last 11 meetings vs. the Packers and six of the last seven at Lambeau Field.
This time there was no politically correct chatter about every game counting the same.
"This one was worth a lot more," offensive right tackle Kyle Long said. "We just beat the Packers at their homecoming. It feels really good."
Long, like other teammates, was alluding to the halftime ceremony when former Packers quarterback Brett Favre's number was retired. Nothing like spoiling the Packers' night to make the win even sweeter.
And the Bears did it by negating Rodgers, who has burned them repeatedly in the past. Rodgers has the highest passer rating in NFL history, 105.6. But the Bears held him to 62.4, almost unheard of, as he completed just 22 of 43 passes. The interception was just his fourth of the year. He has 24 TD passes, but just 1 of those came Thursday night.
After starting the season 0-3 and 2-5, the Bears are talking playoffs, although cautiously.
"Every week is a must-win if we want a shot come January," said guard Matt Slauson, who helped allow just 1 sack of quarterback Jay Cutler (90.8 passer rating). "We just looked at it like another game, but we knew after losing last week (17-15 to the Broncos) we have no more chances. We have to win out here."
It was Cutler's first win at Lambeau, but Long said things are different now.
"I'm sure there have been times in the past when he's played well, and he hasn't had guys who have his back," Long said. "We have his back, and he knows that, and he was excited."
Clinging to a 14-13 lead late in the third quarter and backed up at their own 14-yard line, the Bears mixed a perfect recipe of runs and passes, including a pair of 11-yard catches by Marquess Wilson.
Alshon Jeffery, who earlier in the drive drew a pass interference penalty for 18 yards, later turned a short flip into a 22-yard gain with determined running after the catch.
That gave the Bears first-and-goal at the Packers' four-yard line, but 2 Matt Forte runs netted just 1 yard and Cutler couldn't connect with a diving Jeffery in the end zone. So the Bears settled for Robbie Gould's 21-yard field goal and a 17-13 lead with 12:15 remaining in the game.
The Bears' defense forced a punt on the Packers' ensuing possession. And then it was time to shut the door on Rodgers. And Favre.
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