Packers 35, Bears 21
The number: 5 – Aaron Rodgers threw a career-high five touchdown passes, matching a figure accomplished seven other times in franchise history. Four of them came on consecutive drives spanning the second through fourth quarters, turning a 14-10 game into a 35-10 romp. The last time was by Brett Favre against Carolina in 1998. He also did it against Minnesota in 1997 and Chicago in 1995. The others: Cecil Isbell against the Chicago Cardinals in 1942, Don Horn against the St. Louis Cardinals in 1969 and Lynn Dickey against New Orleans in 1981 and the Houston Oilers in 1983.
The player: Left tackle Marshall Newhouse has been plagued by fits of inconsistency since replacing Chad Clifton in October. Sunday's game against Chicago was certainly a high point. Squaring off against Julius Peppers on almost every play, Newhouse pitched a shutout. And we're not talking about sacks or even quarterback hits. Peppers, with 99 career sacks, doesn't even show up on the stats sheet.
The moment: It was 7-3 when the Packers' offense stepped on the field with 1:50 remaining in the first half. The Packers' last three possessions ended in three-and-out punts that had gained 17 yards. But on second-and-10 from the 35, Rodgers found James Jones on a crossing route for a 32-yard catch-and-run to the Bears' 33. Completions of 17 yards to Jordy Nelson and 11 yards to Donald Driver set up Rodgers' 2-yard touchdown pass to Jones that made it 14-3. That kicked off a run of four touchdowns on four possessions.
The key: The Bears' offense is an injured mess, but they were supposed to keep it a game because of their defensive line presumably running roughshod over the Packers' battered front wall. Instead, for the first time all season, Rodgers wasn't sacked. The running game was OK, but Ryan Grant's 24-yard run behind blocks from Newhouse and Evan Dietrich-Smith preceded a play-action fake and 55-yard touchdown bomb to Nelson that made it 28-10.
Packers said: "I think one thing you've noticed about this defense, very rarely has one area of this defense been (an issue) throughout the whole season. There's been flashes of times where we've played outstanding run defense, outstanding pass defense, getting after the quarterback. Now, the real issue is putting together a complete game. I think we were able to get a few turnovers, and ultimately stop ‘em when we needed to. We need to put ourselves in a better position to not be in those positions. As I continue to say, it comes down to accountability – people making their plays and doing their job. And when that happens, this defense has proven to work. And it will work." – OLB Clay Matthews, on the Packers allowing 441 total yards, including 199 on the ground.
Bears said: "I don't know, man. I told Jay (Cutler). I went and apologized to the quarterbacks and they're going to give me a hard time about it. I don't know if that's the right thing to do on a two-point conversion when you're down. But I was just overcome with Christmas joy, I guess." – QB Josh McCown, on dunking the ball over the goal post, with his two-point conversion run making it 35-18 with 7:54 remaining.
Extra points: The only injury of note was a bruised ankle for James Starks. ... With their franchise-record 14th victory, the Packers have homefield advantage for the first time since winning Super Bowl XXXI in 1996. Homefield is great news for the Packers, who have won 12 in a row and 18 of their last 19 at Lambeau Field. … With 515 points, the Packers are the 14th team in NFL history to score at least 500. … Rodgers set three records. One is the franchise's single-season mark with 4,643 yards, passing Lynn Dickey's 4,458 in 1983. The other is an NFL record: Rodgers' passer rating of 142.7 gave him 13 games of ratings of at least 100. The record of 12 was set by Dan Marino in 1984 and matched by Tom Brady in 2010. Rodgers also has four games with ratings of at least 140, tying the NFL record set by Roger Staubach in 1973 and matched by Brady in 2007 and 2010. … As we mentioned before the Kansas City game, Donald Driver was closing in on 10,000 receiving yards. He's got it, becoming the 36th player to reach that milestone. … With four touchdowns against Chicago this season, Jermichael Finley became the first tight end to do so since the Chargers' Antonio Gates against Kansas City in 2005. … The Packers have given up at least 400 yards in 10 of 15 games while the offense, which settled for 363 against Chicago, has topped 400 yards in five games. … Entering the game, the offense had gained 5,569 yards and the defense had allowed, amazingly, 5,569 yards. That tie is broken, meaning the 14-1 Packers have been outgained 6,010 to 5,932.
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.