The 194th meeting between the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears was one for the ages at a cold Soldier Field.
Green Bay entered the game with their NFC North division hopes still alive, with the Chicago Bears trying to play spoiler.
The Bears left Sunday’s game on the losing end of a 30-27, feeling like they let one slip out of their hands. Chicago tied the game with just over a minute left before Mason Crosby won the game with a 32-yard field goal.
“It’s extremely frustrating,” said DL Akiem Hicks. “It’s not really something you can put into words. It’s not really an answer to how you feel. It’s not good.”
Chicago played well for parts of the game but struggled defensively with missed tackles and poor coverage -- a bad recipe when you’re going against a quarterback like Aaron Rodgers.
Rodgers connected with Jordy Nelson for a 60-yard completion on third-and-11 with less than a minute to play, which setup a Mason Crosby game-winning field goal.
On the play, Nelson beat CB Cre’Von LeBlanc, who had no safety help over the top. LeBlanc didn’t expect the help as he was lined up in man coverage.
“Kind of, sort of,” LeBlanc said. “But I mean at the end of the day, my technique has to be better and I have to stay on top of that as a football player.”
LeBlanc had inside leverage on Nelson but opened his hips, allowing the receiver to get a few steps of separation. Rodgers made LeBlanc pay as he threw a strike down the field and into Nelson’s arms.
“He had about three steps on me,” LeBlanc said. “It was a great ball, great throw. Aaron Rodgers led him, it was a great throw.”
LeBlanc, a UDFA rookie, recorded his first pick-six just a week ago, which nearly led the Bears to victory. He didn't fare as well today in a brutal reminder of how humbling the NFL can be on a weekly basis..
“I’m not going to get into the blame game,” LeBlanc said. “I think our guys fought hard. We had an opportunity to win a game and we came up short. It’s happened quite a few times here late.”
While the result isn’t what Bears fans wanted, it could have been a lot worse.
The Bears contained Rodgers and the Packers offense during the first half, with the two teams going into halftime tied at 10.
But the second half was a tale of two quarters.
Green Bay outscored Chicago 17-0 in the third quarter as they dominated behind the efforts of RB Ty Montgomery. The converted receiver ran all over the Bears, finishing with 162 yards on 16 attempts.
Chicago was missing three key starters in the middle of their defense with DL Eddie Goldman, ILB Danny Trevathan and ILB Jerrell Freeman all out. Montgomery took advantage as he gashed the Bears defense for more than 10 yards per pop.
The Bears didn’t help themselves much against Green Bay's rushing attack, missing crucial tackles all over the field.
“We didn’t do a good job as a defense tackling,” CB Tracy Porter said. “We allowed Montgomery to find holes in our defense. We weren’t in position on certain plays that he was able to find holes in. Once we are there, we have to wrap up.”
The Packers run game set the tone in this game. Early in the second quarter, he rambled 61 yards down the sidelines after breaking three Bears tackles. It was downhill from there.
"[Breaking tackles] is what we're coached to do," said Montgomery. "That's how I was raised as a kid. It's just ingrained in me."
Backup Christine Michael added a touchdown in the third quarter, going nearly untouched during his 42-yard score.
Michael’s TD came just a possession after Bears QB Matt Barkley committed his fourth turnover of the game, an interception by Green Bay S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.
With Barkley’s four turnovers and Chicago struggling to wrap up on tackles the, Bears were down 17 points to start the fourth quarter.
But they didn’t quit and even had a shot to win it at the end.
“They responded positively,” Fox said. “We fought back into the game. Their defense got some stops. We didn’t really tackle that crisp. They rushed the ball way more successfully than we needed. Guys responded and we played the run a little better. We got them off on third down a few times and the offense responded with some good throws and moving the ball.”
Chicago failed to punch it into the end zone with goal-to-go from the 4-yard line with less than 2 minutes to play. Instead, the Bears kicked the field goal, giving Rodgers an opportunity to claim the victory, which he did. The Bears are now 3-11 on the season.
“Were fighting to the end,” said Hicks. “We’re pushing. Were not going to stop. There’s nothing else out there for us but to win the next game.”null