The Green Bay Packers honored Brett Favre but Jay Cutler and the Chicago Bears’ defense ruined the celebration.
Cutler, who was 1-11 vs. the Packers as Chicago’s quarterback, led the Bears to a big upset of the first-place Packers, 17-13 on Thursday at rainy Lambeau Field.
At halftime, the Packers unveiled Favre’s name beneath the north end-zone scoreboard alongside the other five players whose numbers have been retired. Hall of Fame quarterback Bart Starr, who has been battling severe health issues, also appeared to a thunderous ovation.
But for the first time in 13 games against the Packers as the Bears’ quarterback, Cutler did not throw an interception. Chicago’s defense, on the other hand, had two takeaways, and they were both huge. The first set up a first-half touchdown. The second came with 3:19 remaining in the game. With the Packers trailing 17-13 and having reached midfield, Rodgers fired a slant to Davante Adams. Adams, however, was knocked off his route by safety Chris Prosinski and cornerback Tracy Porter grabbed the interception.
Green Bay (7-4) got one more chance, taking over at its 20 with 2:45 remaining. James Starks gained 18 yards on a screen and ran for 7 more to get the ball to the 49 at the two-minute warning. Rodgers then hit Randall Cobb on a crossing route, with Cobb breaking Bryce Callahan’s tackle and taking it 32 yards to the 19. On third-and-7, Rodgers connected with receiver Davante Adams for 8 yards, setting up first-and-goal at the 8. Two throwaways made it third-and-goal with 36 seconds to play. As he was being hauled down, Rodgers threw into the corner of the end zone to receiver James Jones, but Porter knocked it away. That set up the all-or-nothing fourth down. Rodgers bought time by moving to his left and fired to Adams against tight coverage from Callahan. The ball hit off Adams’ hand and fell incomplete.
Cutler was 19-of-31 for 200 yards and one touchdown for Chicago (5-6), which won for the third time in four games. Alshon Jeffery caught seven passes for 90 yards.
Eddie Lacy had 105 rushing yards, his second consecutive 100-yard game, in a losing effort. Rodgers threw for 202 yards, with a big chunk of it coming on the final drive. Green Bay has lost back-to-back division games at home.
The Packers had a huge scare during the third quarter when Rodgers injured his left wrist. On third-and-long with the Packers in scoring position, Rodgers had to retrieve a bad shotgun snap from backup center J.C. Tretter. As Rodgers got the ball and tried to survey the field, he was hit from behind by Bears linebacker Lamarr Houston. Rodgers got up holding his left wrist, and backup quarterback Scott Tolzien immediately started warming up on the sideline.
The play knocked the Packers out of field-goal range, and Chicago took advantage with a long scoring drive that resulted in Robbie Gould’s 21-yard field goal and a 17-13 lead with 12:15 remaining. Bears receiver Alshon Jeffery drew an 18-yard penalty for pass interference, converted a third-and-3 with a 5-yard gain and ran for 22 on a screen before the Packers stiffened. Matt Forte lost 2 yards on second-and-goal at the 1 and cornerback Sam Shields defended an end-zone pass to Jeffery.
Rodgers stayed in the game but the Packers’ offense continued to go nowhere fast. The Packers got two first downs but Rodgers threw two incompletions and was sacked on third down. A 27-yard punt by Tim Masthay gave the Bears the ball at their 35 with 8:23 remaining.
The first half was all about field position as the Bears led 14-13 at halftime.
Taking over at its 49 midway through the first quarter, Green Bay struck first when running back Eddie Lacy went untouched for a 25-yard touchdown on a screen. The score didn’t come without controversy, however, as Lacy flipped the ball in celebration at the goal line. After a booth review, the call of a touchdown was upheld.
The Bears had three-and-out punts on four of their first five possessions but took over at the Packers’ 34-yard line when safety Chris Prosinski stripped Lacy from behind, with linebacker Lamarr Houston recovering. Chicago capitalized, with Cutler dodging a sack and firing a 10-yard pass to Marc Mariani to convert a third-and-4. Mariani delivered again on third-and-3, catching a low pass and fighting for the first down. Finally, on third-and-goal from the 3, Cutler fought off linebacker Jayrone Elliott’s sack attempt and hit tight end Zach Miller, who was wide open on a crossing route.
Green Bay’s Jeff Janis returned the ensuing kickoff 64 yards but an offense pass-interference penalty killed the drive and the Packers had to settle for Mason Crosby’s 22-yard field goal for a 10-7 lead.
Deonte Thompson set up the Bears at the 41 with a big return of his own. Chicago turned its field position into a touchdown, with Jeremy Langford’s 14-yard run and completions of 11 yards to receiver Alshon Jeffery and 19 yards to receiver Marquess Wilson setting up Langford’s 1-yard touchdown run with 30 seconds left in the half.
The Packers answered with Crosby’s 50-yard field goal on the final play of the half. A 23-yard catch-and-run by Cobb was the key play.
Bill Huber is publisher of 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 www.twitter.com/PackerReport.