Chicago, IL (SportsNetwork.com) - Aaron Rodgers and Randall Cobb both returned
from injuries on Sunday with Green Bay's division hopes on the line and they
Rodgers found a wide open Cobb on 4th-and-8 for a 48-yard score with just 38
seconds to play to help the Packers with the NFC North with a 33-28 victory
over the Chicago Bears.
Green Bay has the fourth seed in the upcoming NFC playoffs and will host the
San Francisco 49ers in the wild card round of the playoffs on Sunday, Jan. 5
at 4:40 p.m. ET.
Rodgers had been out since a Nov. 4 game against these Bears due to a
fractured left collarbone. He returned to practice this week and finished the
game 25-for-39 for 318 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions for the
Packers (8-7-1), who won three of their last four games of the season to claim
the division for a third straight year.
Cobb, who had been out since fracturing his right tibia on Oct. 13 against
Baltimore, caught both touchdown passes by Rodgers, while Jordy Nelson had 10
grabs for 161 yards.
Chicago (8-8), meanwhile, dropped its final two games of the year with its
playoff hopes in its own hands. The team has now missed the playoffs three
Jay Cutler completed 15-of-24 passes for 226 yards, two touchdowns and one
interception, while Matt Forte carried the ball 22 times for 110 yards and
two scores with four catches for 47 yards and a TD in the loss.
The winning drive began at the Green Bay 13 with 6:24 to play and the Packers
had to convert a fourth down on their first set of downs, with John Kuhn
bulling his way through to move the chains.
Rodgers then scrambled for his only run of the game on 3rd-and-3 for a 5-yard
gain, and converted another 4th-and-1 with a 6-yard pass to Nelson.
Once again, the Packers found themselves facing a 4th down from the Chicago
48, and the Bears brought the house on a blitz. Rodgers, though, avoided the
rush and heaved the ball down the middle where a wide open Cobb easily made
the catch and cruised into the end zone. The 2-point conversion attempt
failed, and it was a 33-28 game with 38 seconds to play.
"I looked outside to make sure we had a big play there," Rodgers said. "From
the throw I missed Andrew Quarless on earlier in the drive, I knew I had to
get a little bit on it to make sure I didn't way underthrow him. When that
ball came down and he got into the end zone it was just pandemonium."
Devin Hester took the kickoff to the Chicago 40 and Cutler hit Martellus
Bennett for 15 yards, but the next two passes were incomplete, and Cutler's
bomb on the last play was picked off in the end zone by Sam Shields to give
Green Bay the win and the division.
"We knew it was going to come down to who had the ball last," Bears wide
receiver Brandon Marshall said. "Unfortunately, we didn't have enough time on
the clock to get it done."
Rodgers looked sharp on the Packers' opening possession of the game,
converting a 3rd-and-3 with a 14-yard pass to Nelson, and turning another
third down later in the drive with a completion to Nelson.
Facing a 3rd-and-goal at the Chicago 5, Rodgers rolled out to his right and
tried to get it to Jarrett Boykin in the end zone, but Chris Conte made a
diving pick to keep the Packers off the board.
Forte ripped off a 20-yard run to get the ball across midfield, and Cutler
floated a pass down the left sideline for a 37-yard catch by Marshall. Three
plays later, Cutler hit Forte near the end zone to the left and he easily
took it in for a 4-yard score and a 7-0 lead with 2:07 left in the first
Rodgers responded with another sharp drive and got the team down to the
Chicago 26 after a 32-yard catch from Nelson. The next pass, though, was
behind Nelson and he wound up tipping it into the hands of Tim Jennings for
Chicago was held to a three-and-out, with Rodgers finally leading the team on
a scoring drive as a 26-yard catch by Nelson along with a roughing the passer
call on Chicago led to a 33-yard field goal from Mason Crosby to make it a 7-3
game with 7:59 to play in the half.
Following another three-and-out, the Packers started out with excellent field
position as they got the ball back at the Chicago 41.
Facing a 1st-and-10 at the Chicago 17, Rodgers found himself under pressure
and had the ball knocked out of his hands by Julius Peppers. The ball went
forward and bounced around a bit before Boykin picked up the ball.
Unsure of the call as the whistle had not blown, Boykin stood there for a
moment with the ball at the 15. Eventually, though, he realized that the play
was still going and he ran it in for a score.
The play was called a touchdown and reviewed to determine if Rodgers' arm was
going forward prior to the ball being knocked out, but the call on the field
stood and the Packers held a 10-7 lead with 3:28 to play in the second
Chicago then turned the ball over as Alshon Jeffery had the ball knocked out
of his hands on a catch and Green Bay recovered at the Chicago 28.
The Bears' defense, though, did a good job of keeping the Packers out of the
end zone and a 27-yard field goal from Crosby gave the team a 13-7 lead going
into the break.
Green Bay started the second half with the ball and was quickly forced to
punt, with Hester coming up with a 49-yard return to the Green Bay 30.
Five plays later, Forte took the ball into the end zone around the left tackle
for a 5-yard score and a 14-13 lead.
The Packers came right back with a scoring drive of their own as Eddie Lacy
took a handoff 17 yards on the first snap, and James Starks bulled his way
through the line for a 41-yard gain down to the Chicago 13. Rodgers then found
Cobb in the back of the end zone for a 7-yard score and a 20-14 advantage with
7:27 left in the third quarter.
The scoring kept coming as the Bears came right back to take the lead. Facing
a 3rd-and-4, Cutler went deep down the left sideline and hit Jeffery in stride
near the Green Bay 35. He took it down to the 1-yard line for a 67-yard
gain and Forte took it in on the next play for a 21-20 lead with 5:04 left in
Green Bay was then held off the board and forced to punt, and a 33-yard pass
reception from Forte got the ball to the Green Bay 8. On the first play of the
fourth quarter, Cutler tossed a pass out to the right for Brandon Marshall,
who briefly took his eyes off the ball to spin around a defender, than made a
diving catch for a 5-yard score and a 28-20 lead.
A 34-yard catch from Nelson on the second play moved the ball across midfield
for the Packers, and a 22-yard catch from Quarless set up Lacy's 6-yard run
around the left tackle to make it a 28-27 game with 11:38 to play.
Chicago took off five minutes of the clock on its ensuing possession and
crossed midfield, but wound up punting it back to Green Bay for the winning
Green Bay has won seven of the last eight games against the Bears ... Starks
finished with 88 yards on 11 carries and Lacy had 66 yards on 21 touches ...
Marshall totaled 74 yards on six receptions ... Green Bay controlled the ball
for over 35 minutes and finished the game with 473 yards, compared to 345
yards for Chicago ... Forte finished the season with 1,339 yards and nine
touchdowns on the ground, along with 594 yards and three touchdowns receiving.