Packers suffer agony of repeat defeat

In what has been a familiar story line, the Packers lost 20-17 in overtime at Chicago on Monday night. The potential game-winning field goal by Mason Crosby was blocked, and the Bears won the overtime coin flip and marched to the winning field goal.

Are you kidding?

The Green Bay Packers lost 20-17 in overtime to the Chicago Bears on a bitterly cold Monday night. The Packers controlled much of the game, but when Robbie Gould booted a 38-yard field on the first possession of the extra period, Green Bay lost its fifth consecutive game. The last four have come by a total of 14 points.

"It's disappointing," said quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who's 0-8 in games when he's gotten the ball late in the fourth quarter with the game tied or the Packers trailing by less than a touchdown. "It's tough. It's really frustrating."

The Packers (5-10) had this one in hand, leading 17-10 midway through the fourth quarter against a team that had barely 110 yards of offense.

But the Packers' special teams — lousy for most of the night — gave the Bears (9-6) life on a night when it was just 2 degrees at kickoff. A bad punt by Jeremy Kapinos and a 24-yard return by Devin Hester set the Bears up near midfield. On first down, rookie running back Matt Forte ripped off a 27-yard run to put Chicago in scoring position.

A defense that had failed to make a play at crunch time as the season has crumbled over the last five weeks almost delivered on back-to-back plays but instead yielded the tying touchdown. On a third-and-4 pass from the 7-yard line, Brandon Chillar made a great tackle against Hester to prevent him from getting the first down. On fourth-and-1, Forte was stuffed by Ryan Pickett, but Forte picked up the first down by maybe an inch. On the next play, he bulled his way into the end zone from 3 yards to make it 17-17 with 3:11 remaining.

"I wish we had the answers because we wouldn't have let it keep happening," linebacker A.J. Hawk said. "I don't know, but it comes down to the time to make some stops, we really haven't been making them, and I don't know what the reason for that is."

So, Rodgers got yet another chance to mount a winning drive in the final minutes. And he got a big helping hand when Will Blackmon returned a pooch kickoff to midfield, and 15 yards were tacked on by a boneheaded personal foul on Adrian Peterson.

Starting from the Bears' 35-yard line, the Packers' offense needed to make one play to get into field-goal range, and Rodgers made that play when he hit James Jones for 9 yards on third-and-8.

That put the ball at the Bears' 24 with 2 minutes to go. Because the Bears had only one timeout, Packers coach Mike McCarthy elected to call three runs to bleed the clock. With 25 seconds to go, Mason Crosby trotted onto the field to attempt a 38-yard field goal. Regardless of the weather, this should have been an easy one for Crosby, who was 21-for-24 for his career on field goals from 30 to 39 yards.

Instead, the kick was blocked by Alex Brown. The Bears got a big push up the middle and McCarthy said the kick was low.

That sent the game into overtime, and just like what happened at Tennessee in midseason, the Packers lost the coin toss and never got the ball. On the first play, Greg Olsen beat Aaron Rouse into the flat for a 17-yard gain, and a horse-collar tackle on Rouse tacked on 15 yards to push the ball to the Packers' 35.

On third-and-9 from the 34, Hawk and safety Nick Collins collided, and Forte took the pass in the flat and ran 14 yards for the first down. A couple of plays later, Gould kicked the ball through the uprights.

He also kicked the Packers in the gut. The Packers outgained the Bears 325 to 210 and converted 8-of-17 (47 percent) third downs compared to 3-of-12 (25 percent) for Chicago. But the offense went 0-for-1 in the red zone, and the special teams gave away 10 points because of a long kickoff return and a punt that bounced off of blocker Jarrett Bush.

"We had a lot of opportunities," McCarthy said. "They made some key plays, particularly on special teams, that factored in the outcome. We didn't make enough plays to win."

Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com.


Packer Report Top Stories