Pack Win The NFC North In Rodgers’ Return
Aaron Rodgers passed for 318 yards and two touchdowns on his comeback from a collarbone injury, in a 33-28 victory for the Green Bay Packers on the road against the division rival Chicago Bears. The win gives the Packers the NFC North division title for the third consecutive year and seals a precious spot in the playoffs.
With the season on the line Rodgers threw a 48 yard go-ahead touchdown to Randall Cobb on 4th and 8 with under a minute left in the game to extend the Packers’ season end the Bears’.
“I was thinking, you better not drop it, you better catch it… I could see and feel the guy behind me,” said Cobb. “I’m so excited to play again, so grateful to play again. We are finding ways to win. It’s great to see it come together at the right time. ”
The first half of the game saw two stuttering offenses combine for just 20 points. Chicago scored first after Rodgers threw an interception in the end zone on the opening drive, with running back Matt Forte catching a short four yard pass to make it 7-0.
Green Bay would struggle to retaliate after two long drives that resulted in just three points, with Rodgers throwing a second interception and once again failing to find a receiver in the end zone. However with just under four minutes left in the half, the Packers would take a 13-7 lead after a bizarre touchdown, before Mason Crosby kicked his second field goal as the half expired.
Rodgers fumbled after star lineman Julius Peppers batted the ball from his hands on a sack as he wound up for a throw. The ball hit the ground and Jarrett Boykin picked it up ready to give it to the referees, not realising it was a live play. Green Bay’s sideline erupted though, prompting Boykin to jog into the end zone for an easy score.
The Bears offense didn’t stay quiet for long, and scored on their opening possession of the second half. Devin Hester set up the team in good position after a 49 yard punt return, which helped the team cruise into the red zone, where they handed the ball to Matt Forte – who rushed for 110 yards in the game – for his second score.
Rodgers would finally hit his stride on Green Bay’s next possession though, finding Randall Cobb for a touchdown for the first time since October to make it 20-14 – after running back James Starks exploded for a 41 yard gain to get the ‘Pack’ in Bears territory.
But Forte would continue to power his way down the field and scored yet again, after Chicago’s quarterback Jay Cutler found star receiver Alshon Jeffrey deep for a 47 yard gain. Cutler then scored his third touchdown tossing one to Brandon Marshall to begin the fourth quarter and give his team an eight point lead.
The Packers continued their recent habit of rallying however, and fought back to ultimately win the game. Eddie Lacy powered to the outside for a six yard score with 12 minutes left, the defense forced a punt and allowed Rodgers to continue his confident surgical display through the air.
After two nail-biting fourth down plays on the final drive, including a clutch catch by Jordy Nelson – who lead the team in yards with 171 – to keep the season alive, Randall Cobb broke from the Bears’ secondary. He caught the 48 yard pass from a scrambling Rodgers, converting a third season-saving fourth down play.
With just 38 seconds left in the game Chicago tried to pull of a miracle. Jay Cutler made it to the Bears’ 40 yard line and attempted multiple deep passes to pull of the upset but they all fell incomplete, with the final one being picked off by cornerback Sam Shields to end the game.
“It’s a special win, we’re going to enjoy the win. We just kept believing in each other. We have a great group of guys – I want to keep it going.” Said Rodgers
After finishing the regular season 8-7-1, the Green Bay Packers find themselves with the fourth seed in the NFC. They will play the San Francisco 49ers in the wildcard round at Lambeau Field on Sunday January 5th.
Image credits: Jim Biever/Packers.com