GREEN BAY, WI (AP) – Ryan Grant finally hit his stride for the Green Bay Packers, rushing for 145 yards and a touchdown in a dominant 37-3 victory over the Chicago Bears on Sunday.
The win boosts the playoff hopes of the Packers (5-5), who came in on a two-game losing streak and trailing the Bears and Minnesota Vikings by one game in the NFC North standings. It also was the Packers' first victory over the Bears at Lambeau Field since Lovie Smith took over as Chicago's head coach.
Chicago (5-5) didn't look much like a division co-leader or playoff contender on either side of the ball Sunday.
Kyle Orton started at quarterback for the Bears after sitting out last Sunday's game with a sprained right ankle. But Orton was outplayed by Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who completed 23 of 30 passes for 227 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.
Orton was 13-of-26 for 138 yards, completing only two passes to a wide receiver against the Packers' strong secondary. Orton appeared to take a shot in the leg from Aaron Kampman in the first quarter and was limping at times throughout the game.
Orton fumbled with the Bears trailing 27-3 in the fourth quarter, and defensive end Jason Hunter returned the ball 54 yards for a touchdown – the Packers' ninth return touchdown and seventh defensive touchdown of the season, both franchise records.
Rex Grossman relieved Orton for the remainder of the game.
Grant and Rodgers both benefited from much-improved play by the Green Bay offensive line, which pushed around a Bears defense that had been strong against the run but vulnerable to the pass.
The Packers also protected Rodgers far better than they did in last week's loss at Minnesota. A week after taking four sacks and giving up two safeties, Rodgers wasn't sacked and barely was touched by the Bears' pass rush.
Rodgers then made his only major mistake all afternoon, throwing a second-quarter interception to Bears middle linebacker Brian Urlacher to end a potential scoring drive.
But Grant carried the Packers' offense on their next possession, carrying six times on a seven-play drive. Facing second-and-2 at the Chicago 22, Grant broke free for 18 yards off the left end of the line, then plunged in for a 4-yard touchdown on the next play to put the Packers ahead 14-3 in the second quarter.
Grant had 105 yards rushing at halftime.
Grant, a breakout star during the Packers' run to the playoffs last season, sat out part of training camp in a contract dispute and was hampered by a hamstring injury early in the season. Sunday's game was only Grant's second 100-yard rushing performance this year.
It also was a strong showing by the Packers' defense, which had struggled to stop the run all season and suddenly had to account for the absence of middle linebacker Nick Barnett, out for the season with a knee injury. A.J. Hawk moved to the inside, with Brandon Chillar filling Hawk's spot on the weak side.
Bears rookie running back Matt Forte rushed for 64 yards and added 40 yards receiving.
Packers kicker Mason Crosby, who missed a potential winning field goal at Minnesota last week, tied his career long with a 53-yarder just before halftime.
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