That was Aaron Rodgers’ message to fans last week, and the Green Bay Packers’ 38-17 rout of the Chicago Bears should take care of that for at least a few days.
Rodgers certainly held up his end of the bargain. In a sensational display by the offense, Rodgers was given ample protection and his receivers carved up the Bears’ secondary. It equated to Rodgers completing 22-of-28 passes for 302 yards and four touchdowns. Jordy Nelson (10 catches, 108 yards) and Randall Cobb (seven catches, 113 yards) scored two touchdowns apiece.
The Packers (2-2) have won five consecutive games at Soldier Field – tying for the second-longest streak in series history behind Green Bay’s remarkable 11-game run from 1994 through 2005. Rodgers is 11-3 against Chicago.
The Packers missed four chances for turnovers in the first half, with two dropped interceptions and two fumbled snaps, but the defense made two critical plays to turn a shootout into a rout.
With Green Bay leading 24-17 and Chicago driving, Jay Cutler threw a short pass over the middle to Josh Morgan. Tramon Williams saw it coming and missed the interception, but the deflection was grabbed by Clay Matthews, who had peeled off his pass rush and alertly made the catch. His 40-yard return to the Bears’ 35 set up Rodgers’ 11-yard touchdown to Nelson on third-and-9.
Cutler then threw one to Sam Shields, who returned it 52 yards to the Bears’ 11. Another self-inflicted wound by Chicago – holding on a chip-shot field goal – gave the Packers an easy touchdown as Cobb got wide open against safety Chris Conte. That made it 38-17 with 14:52 remaining.
The Bears piled up 496 yards, not that it mattered. For the second time in NFL history and first time since Buffalo at San Francisco in 1992, neither team punted.
Security must have stopped both defenses at the door in the first half. Green Bay led 21-17, with Chicago piling up 303 yards to the Packers’ 205. Neither team punted; the Packers faced only three third downs in the half.
Chicago took the opening kickoff and marched 80 yards in 15 plays and 8:30. The Packers had a chance for a potential pick-six by Sam Shields early in the drive, and the Bears converted three third downs – including the touchdown, a 6-yard pass to Brandon Marshall in which Davon House fell to the turf.
Green Bay quickly answered with a 43-yard reception by Richard Rodgers setting up Eddie Lacy’s 2-yard touchdown.
The Bears scored again, with Green Bay’s defense missing two chances. Jamari Lattimore dropped an interception. Two plays later, on fourth-and-1, Cutler dropped the snap, recovered and ran 15 yards. The Bears, however, settled for a field goal when Cutler threw too high to Alshon Jeffery, who as open in the end zone.
The Packers took a 14-10 lead on a drive bookended by a 22-yard completion to Nelson and a 3-yard touchdown to Nelson. In between, Nelson had a 13-yard catch on third-and-7 (with 15 tacked on for unnecessary roughness) and, crucially, unnecessary roughness on D.J. Williams after a third-down stop of Eddie Lacy.
Chicago retaliated with a brilliantly designed touchdown. Jeffery went in motion as if it were going to be an end-around. Instead, he reversed direction, lost cornerback Sam Shields and strolled into the end zone for an 8-yard score. That gave Chicago a 17-14 lead with 3:50 left in the half.
Then came a big moment. Bears coach Marc Trestman, with his defense struggling and Green Bay getting the ball to start the second half, went for an onside kick. The Bears had a 6-3 edge in personnel but safety Sean Richardson alertly sprinted across the field to make the recovery at the 39. The Packers made Trestman pay, with Rodgers throwing a perfect ball to Randall Cobb, who ran past cornerback Isaiah Frey for a 22-yard touchdown on third-and-7.
Then came another big moment. Chicago had 1:03 and three timeouts – an eternity – and drove right down the field with Cutler hitting 6-foot-6 tight end for gains of 26 yards against the 5-foot-11 Shields and 27 yards against the 5-foot-11 Micah Hyde. That made it first-and-goal at the 9 with 14 seconds left after Chicago’s final timeout. The Packers got a decent rush on Cutler, forcing a first-down incompletion. On second down with 9 seconds to go, Cutler hit Bennett at the 1 but safety HaHa Clinton-Dix used his strength to keep Bennett out of the end zone. A review confirmed the ball, with Bennett juggling the ball a bit as he tried to stretch the ball to the goal line.
Rodgers was 13-of-17 for 184 yards and two touchdowns at the half. Cutler was 15-of-21 for 173 yards and two scores, with Forte having 80 of the Bears’ 130 rushing yards.
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