Packers send wounded Bears to 1-6
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- It was a war of attrition Thursday night in the 193rd game of the Bears-Packers series, the most-played rivalry in NFL history.
But the Packers had Aaron Rodgers, and the Bears didn't. That was the big difference in Green Bay's 26-10 victory that raised them to 4-2 while dropping the injured and insulted Bears to 1-6.
The Bears haven't stumbled to such a dismal start since 2000, when they opened 1-7.
The Packers barely had any running backs or cornerbacks to begin the game and then lost rookie running back Don Jackson with a hand injury in the second quarter. Jackson, an undrafted rookie, was just promoted from the practice squad with Eddie Lacy and James Starks unavailable because of injuries.
After an injury to Jay Cutler fill-in Brian Hoyer, the Bears were down to their third quarterback, fourth-year journeyman Matt Barkley, who had never taken a snap with his new team before Thursday night. Hoyer was knocked out of the game with a fractured left arm in the second quarter.
"Anytime you lose your starting quarterback it can be disruptive," coach John Fox said. "It's not an excuse, just a reality. When you play an explosive offense like Green Bay, it kind of helps to be out there a little bit more offensively, which I think was a problem (for the defense) in the second half."
Trailing just 6-3 at halftime, the Bears were able to maintain possession for just 7:25 in the second half to the Packers' 22:35.
Rodgers completed 39 of 56 passes for 326 yards and a 102.2 passer rating with 3 touchdowns and no interceptions. Hoyer started 4 of 11 for 49 yards and a 50.9 passer rating, while Barkley completed 6 of 15 for 81 yards and 2 interceptions and an 18.3 passer rating.
"He hasn't been with us all that long (Sept. 5) to begin with," Fox said of Barkley. "I think he hung in there and did about as well as he could."
Hoyer was starting his fifth game in place of Cutler, who suffered a thumb injury in Week 2. Cutler may be close to returning, but he was inactive against the Packers and has yet to go through a full practice since his injury.
The Bears were also without both starting guards after three-time Pro Bowl right guard Kyle Long left with an arm injury, also in the second quarter. They began the game with Eric Kush getting his first Bears start in place of three-time Pro Bowl left guard Josh Sitton, who sat out with a sprained ankle.
It all put Barkley in a tough spot, considering his almost nonexistent practice reps with the first team and trying to match points with Rodgers.
"It's tough, but I don't like to think of it that (way) because I feel like that's making an excuse," he said. "I felt prepared, but coming in and throwing to guys you haven't really repped with was the biggest thing I had to get adjusted to real quick."
Rodgers engineered the Packers' second-longest scoring drive of the season to regain the lead 13-10 with 9:11 left in the third quarter. That was minutes after the Bears had taken their only lead when Leonard Floyd victimized Rodgers on a sack-strip-fumble recovery in the endzone 30 seconds into the third quarter.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, Rodgers finished the Packers' longest drive of the season, 88 yards, with a four-yard TD toss to a wide open Adams in the endzone. Rodgers' franchise-record 37th completion, a 2-yard TD to Randall Cobb was the final insult.
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