NFC North Champion Packers 21, Bears 13
Photo: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Next game: Sunday, December 23 vs. Tennessee
Packers Gameday at 10:00 a.m. on Newsradio 620 WTMJ with postgame coverage on Live at 5 and 10 on TODAY'S TMJ4 in Milwaukee and NBC26 in Green Bay; download our FREE Packers "Gameday Extra" App!
Here's the updated Packers playoff scenarios, how they could jump to the 2 or even the 1 seed in the NFC, or fall to the 4..
McCarthy to Larry McCarren:
About division title win:
"Feels great, but you know, we've got bigger plans ahead."
About call for Randall Cobb to throwback, creating muff which Bears recovered:
"That's a bad decision on my part."
On Rodgers' excellence, Cobb's tough catches, Jones' TD's:
"That's the beauty of the offense...we've just got to keep growing."
2:59 p.m. Bears' 3rd Drive :56
Cutler...Forte...10 yard line. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.
Cutler. SACK! Inside the 5. Worthy sacked him with :28 left.
Cutler. Forte. Tick. Tock. Game over! Party begins.
2:53 p.m. Packers' 3rd Drive 2:12
A first down from the dagger.
Grant. Cutback. Two yards. Tick. Tock. 2-minute warning.
Play action. Rodgers. Running. Smart. Slides to stop in play. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. Time out.
3rd-6 at CHI 41: Grant. Blasts. Did he get it? Nope. A yard away. Major Wright may have saved Chicago's hydes, for now.
4th-1 at CHI 36: Punt. Smart move. But 1:08 left.
Bush catches it inside the 5 out of bounds. Cutler ain't going 97 yards with the Bears.
2:48 p.m. Bears' 2nd Drive 3:47
Cutler deep...Marshall with a great leaping grab for nine yards....make that 10, thanks to some refs who need eyeglasses.
Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.
3rd-10 at CHI 44: Jeffery finally makes a catch, but his third offensive pass interference penalty of the half. Wow. He doesn't learn.
3rd-20 at CHI 34: 11 yard gain to Marshall, but they have 4th down coming. They didn't have to get it all there.
4th-9 at CHI 45: could be ballgame.
Cutler...deep...Jeffery? NOPE! Shields! Breakup.
2:39 p.m. Packers' 2nd Drive 7:04
Statement drive needed. Even three points. But will probably be seven, as Crosby is now deemed untrustworthy.
3rd-7 at CHI 23: Rodgers...nothin' doin, but flaggage after Peppers hammered Rodgers late.
Rodgers slow to get up. Peppers even slower.
Grant. Slamming. Burn clock down. Six yards. Tick. Tock.
3rd-2 at GB 45: Rodgers...deep...Jennings...nope. Chicago still has life with four minutes left. "We've got an interesting 4:01 coming up here, Wayne." - Larry McCarren.
2:27 p.m. Bears' 1st Drive 10:10
Green Bay 21, Chicago 13
Mare 34 yd FG
Another offensive pass interference call on Jeffery negates a completion.
2nd-17 becomes 3rd-forever with Clay Matthews owning Cutler again. 2nd sack of today.
3rd-25 at CHI 19: Forte gets nowhere near on a screen. Flaggage against Chicago's Garza.
MUFF! Cobb tried to backward pass to Ross, and he dropped the thing, and the Bears recover at the Green Bay 16.
Wait: hold on Chicago? Nope. On Green Bay. We're about to have a game. Why did McCarthy call that?????
Two special teams mistakes in three minutes could give Chicago HUGE life.
Cutler to end zone? PICK? Nope. Shields nearly picked it off. Jeffery with great defensive back skills there.
3rd-9 at GB 15: Forte fails in over-the-middle catch. But a field goal makes it one score.
That could have been MUCH worse.
2:19 p.m. Packers' 1st Drive continued from 3rd Quarter
3rd-8 at GB 22: Rodgers has forever...finds Jones! His meal ticket today. Big time meal ticket. First down. Rodgers could have sang "Alice's Restaurant" and ordered a meat loaf there with the time he had there.
Finley to the races! Into Chicago territory. 31 yards! A TD on this drive wouldn't be a dagger, but definitely a signal that it's being sharpened.
Jennings! Inside the 30. Makes up for a bad holding penalty. Slant pattern. Uncoverable when done well.
3rd-6 at CHI 29: Rodgers reached for the first down, but came up a yard short. Still, that's four down territory.
Not this time, though. And Crosby's nightmare continues. Auditions, anyone?
2:16 p.m. Packers' 3rd Drive :12
Green stacked up. But Bears have a lot more to do to win and hold the Packers from a division title.
2:07 p.m. Bears' 2nd Drive 2:42
Green Bay 21, Chicago 10
Mare 34 yd FG
Cutler bombage and offensive pass interference by Jeffrey, including a face mask to pull him to the ground, but Shields nailed for illegal contact.
Burnett makes it three times as bad with a pass interference call inside the five. Basically to save a touchdown, but the ball was underthrown. Don't think it would have been caught.
Could be a seven-point penalty, unless Packers defense does a yeoman's job in the shadow of their own end zone.
1st-goal at GB 5: Forte pushes the pile to the 1.5.
2nd-goal at GB 1.5: Forte stacked up off right tackle. Brad Jones saves six points, for now.
3rd-goal at GB .5: Forte. Stuffed. Pulled back. Four-point save, unless Chicago goes for it. Pickett among the playmakers there.
4th-goal at GB 1: Game maybe on the line...and Sam Shields interfered by Jeffery. That's a four-point malfeasance. Oops, Chicago.
1:58 p.m. Packers' 2nd Drive 5:14
Rodgers NEARLY picked by Peanut Tillman, the turnover man. Rodgers looks at Jennings and points to his own eyes.
3rd-10 at GB 20: Rodgers is the MAN on 3rd down! He bought time to allow Cobb to get open deep in the seam of the Bears' zone, and a 25 yard completion. That is what MVP QB's do. (No, he won't win it this year, but he just showed why he did last year.)
Meanwhile, Cutler is getting attention on the sidelines while Jason Campbell is warming up.
Van Roten & Dietrich-Smith in "the heaviest wishbone that man has ever seen." - Larry McCarren. Didn't do much first play.
Hilarity would ensue if they threw a screen to one of them.
Ryan Grant! Ugh. Fumble after a solid run. Roche with the recovery. Peanut Tillman with the force. Has done that all year, career, lifetime.
1:52 p.m. Bears' 1st Drive 8:08
Bears really need a character drive if they want to salvage any shot at this game.
Good adjustment by Forte on a throw behind him to get a 16-yard catch. That was rare Chicago excellence in the passing game.
3rd-10 at CHI 40: Cutler DOWN! Mike Neal. And he's slow to get up after a violent but legal tackle.
1:36 p.m. Packers' 1st Drive 15:00
Green Bay 21, Chicago 7
Rodgers-Jones 6 yd TD pass
Harris with a BIG run to start the half. Packers momentum is sprinting forward with it. 21 yards! Great job by Finley, Newhouse, Lang. Easy to get yardage on a run like that.
Slant. Jennings. Money. But not huge money.
3rd-3 at GB 49: Finley. Money. First down. Easy pitch and catch. Well, not easy. Through three defenders. Easy for Rodgers. Hard for 99.99% of the human race.
Again, between defenders, a beautiful throw to Jennings to the 31 for a first down. The one spot where it can't be intercepted, at least w/Rodgers accuracy.
A miss for Rodgers on 2nd down. He tried for Jones who was open. Perfect throw, maybe a touchdown. 2nd time that's happened today.
3rd-6 at CHI 26: Kuhn. Nope. One yard. Why call that?
4th-6 at CHI 26: Rodgers to Cobb! First down. Wow. That's why. You can convert with Rodgers.
5-wide, 17 yards from a 14-point lead. Jones let a ball sail through his hands.
3rd-12 at CHI 17: ARod to end zone for Finley....nope. But flaggage, probably on Conte. Pass interference. He grabbed jersey. You'll get called there, regardless of ticky-tack level.
1st-goal at CHI 1, make that 1st-goal at CHI 6: Back shoulder greatness to James Jones! No. 3!
1:22 p.m. Bears' 5th Drive :28
Dump off. Forte. Tick. Tock. Halftime. Boos in Chicago.
1:15 p.m. Packers' 4th Drive 1:25
Green Bay 14, Chicago 7
Rodgers-Jones 7 yd TD pass
3rd-7 at CHI 27: Will Chicago's defense bail out their quarterback again?
Not this down. Cobb! First and goal after Rodgers found the former Kentucky Wildcat wide open in the slot.
Tick, tock, at the 9.
1st-goal at CHI 9: Green to the 7. Packers call first of three time outs. That's why they kept all three, so they have every option to do whatever they want on any goal-to-go play without having to worry about time.
2nd-goal at CHI 7: Jones! No. 89 for No. 2.
1:14 p.m. Bears' 4th Drive 1:39
Cutler PICKED! Hayward! Runback past the 30, and the turnover battle just won by the Packers. So will the first half if they convert.
1:09 p.m. Packers' 3rd Drive 2:11
3rd-3 at GB 33: Peppers' 2nd sack of the first half. The cut block on Peppers didn't work. Oops.
1:06 p.m. Bears' 3rd Drive 4:19
Hester. 40 yard return to start. Thank goodness he was eight yards deep to start the runback.
Cutler and Forte bump thanks to Matthews' fantastic penetration. Clay "blew up that play." - Larry McCarren.
2nd straight win in run defense. Matthews owning the series. Dumb to run that way, Chicago. Don't try it often.
3rd-12 at CHI 30: Screen to Marshall. Packers had five guys in his vicinity. Sorry, Brandon. Not single coverage there. He also fumbled, too, but the Bears recovered.
12:55 p.m. Packers' 2nd Drive 8:03
Green Bay 7, Chicago 7
Rodgers-Jones 29 yd TD pass
A character drive is needed. It's gonna be a long one, as Cobb took one out at the 1 yard line and Joe Anderson had no one on the Packers' return block team there to block him. Shawn Slocum had better be screaming at someone. 11 yard line. Ugh.
Jennings with the first catch and a couple broken tackles gets 19 yards. They needed that kind of YAC. Big play offense needed here.
Grant. Two touches. Doesn't have the burst of old, based on first two runs.
3rd-6 at GB 34: Rodgers forced to scramble again...and Cobb makes a FANTASTIC GRAB! He spun to catch the back-shoulder bomb by Rodgers. 35 yard line.
"Terrific throw. Equally terrific catch." - Larry McCarren
3rd-4 at CHI 29: Rodgers to Jones! WOW! Over the shoulder catch! Game on.
12:47 p.m. Bears' 2nd Drive 11:22
Chicago 7, Green Bay 0
Cutler-Marshall 15 yd TD pass
Burnett solid in the run stuffing role on 1st down. No gain.
Marshall carries A.J. Hawk to a first down. In other news. Hawk (and Matthews) are trying to cover Brandon Marshall. Bad matchup. Horrible matchup.
Also, no flag on Raji despite a hit to Cutler's face.
Forte. Two straight runs. The second is dangerous. Big dangerous. Huge gain to the 33, but flaggage could mitigate the 24-yard gain. Or it could add to it with Walden's dumb face mask call.
Blame Shields for giving up the outside for Forte to run through.
Cutler again to Marshall. Broken tackle. First score. Ugh. Bad tackling.
12:40 p.m. Packers' 1st Drive 14:25
Play action...COBB! To the 44. Perfect throw in tight coverage to finally get past the 50 yard line.
3rd-1 at CHI 36: Rodgers has to escape a sack five yards deep...but he got a sack 1 yard deep from the line of scrimmage. Plus, 12 men on the line of scrimmage anyway. Actually, 13 or 14 men.
4th-2 at CHI 37: Big boy play here.
FINLEY! That's why they pay the man the big bucks. Tough 1st down catch. He'll need more of those to stick around for the $$ he wants.
3rd-6 at CHI 25: ARod...seam...Cobb! What the? Droppage disease. "He would have had a touchdown." - Wayne Larrivee
And to make matters worse, the struggles for Crosby continue. He kicked a 43-yard attempt to Naperville.
12:37 p.m. Bears' 1st Drive continued from 1st quarter
3rd-5 at CHI 36: CLAYMAKER + Mike Neal = QB sandwich No. 2 of the day.
12:32 p.m. Bears' 3rd Drive 1:08
Forte misses a chance at a deep bomb thrown back shoulder to a running back who's not experienced at back shoulder throws. The only way Cutler could complete the pass, as Jones was all over Forte.
Yellow hankies. Holding on Carimi. Not the way Bucky and company taught you, my friend. But the Packers won't complain.
Blitz. Screen. Allen burns it. Great play design and anticipation. Makes up for the Carimi malfeasance.
12:27 p.m. Packers' 2nd Drive 3:45
Eight yards from Green off left tackle. That helps not only in field position, but to give the Bears the understanding they can play smashmouth.
No huddles with runs. Rarely seen in the NFL.
First pass of the drive is to Green. Not much green field in front of him. One-yard loss.
3rd-8 at GB 30: Rodgers sacked for the second time. Peppers. Wootton. An MVP sandwich.
12:23 p.m. Bears' 2nd Drive 5:40
Chicago in control of this game so far. They're winning field position battles, a type of game the Packers aren't used to.
Raji and Claymaker eat Forte olike he's a Chicago hot dog. Four yard loss.
3rd-13 at CHI 46: With a 5-receiver set, Cutler runs himself to the Green Bay 45. Again, he can punt the Packers deep, but the Chicago offense doesn't generate points.
12:12 p.m. Packers' 1st Drive 9:13
It becomes a 99-yard drive opportunity as Don Barclay gets flagged for a false start. The best you could ever hope for in a penalty: a 1-yard loss.
Rodgers to Jones, and a diving catch for six yards sets the Packers punting team up for a regular distance. But they don't want to punt.
3rd-2 at GB 10: With forever to throw, Rodgers finds no one open...except a lane to a first down following a nifty cutback move along the sidelines. Well, nifty for a quarterback anyway.
Green. Slamming. Six yards. Vicious hit at the point of attack, but Green bounced off of it.
First "phew" of the day. Randall Cobb had a football bounce out of his hands with four Bears around it. But it touched ground before a Chicagoan could control it.
3rd-4 at GB 23: Incomplete. Hayden had near-blanket coverage. The ball reached Jennings' hands in the one spot where he could catch it and Hayden couldn't. Not an easy catch, but Jennings failed.
The Bears failed, however. 12 men on the field. Hester and Lovie tried to call time out, but the refs didn't pay attention.
Coverage sack. Wootton. But notice that even in most sack situations, it's after Rodgers steps up. His presence in the pocket can even mitigate sack loss yardage.
An errant throw by Rodgers to Finley puts the Packers in 3rd-14. Cobb was open in the slot, too.
3rd-14 at GB 20: Blitz. Rodgers can burn those badly. But the Bears' won this one. Rodgers had to throw it away after Briggs came in untouched.
And Masthay's bomb turns into a 23-yard return by Hester, with Masthay having to stop him.
12:03 p.m. Bears' 1st Drive 15:00 left in 1st Quarter
Sam Shields is starting at corner today instead of Casey Hayward.
1st play: Forte owned by B.J. Raji after two yards. He was pushed back slightly off the line, but he stuff Garza enough to force him into Forte's path.
2nd play: not so dominant on the Packers' part. 14 yards for Forte, mainly because Garza moved Raji wayyyyyyy too far to his right.
4 straight runs by Forte...and again, a first down run. Chicago knows they have to run at the Packers' defense who has had trouble stopping opponents' running attacks.
This game may have a circa-1960 feel with all the ground-centric offensive playcalling.
The first pass: a Marshall reception at the 40. Marshall got the one-on-one coverage he wanted on Tramon Williams. Much earlier for his first catch than in the first meeting, when the secondary dominated him.
Forte. Huge hole. Not a trend the Packers like. 9 yard gain.
There's Clay Matthews' first big play of the day: a tackle to hold a 2nd down run to no gain.
3rd-1 at CHI 30: make that 3rd-6 at CHI 35 after a snap infraction by Cutler: fantastic breakup by Shields to stop a throw in the middle left short.
And the Bears punt. Scaredy-cats with Mare now the kicker. But they win a field position battle. 2 yard line. Just means the Packers go 98 yards.
Packers call tails, and tail it is. Packers do the smart thing and get the ball to start the 2nd half.
Moment of silence time for Packers-Bears in Chicago, as they remember the dead in the Newtown, CT school massacre. A Bears player even has his hand over his eyes and mouth, probably praying out, or at least mouthing, emotional prayers for the dead, their families and that community.
We join in those condolences, thoughts and prayers.
Bears are wearing their 1940's throwbacks, similar to what they wore when they beat the Packers in the 2010 regular season battle in Chicago.
Not an omen. Just an obseravtion.
Weather at Soldier Field: 46 degrees and clouds in Chicago, with 83 percent humidity and little wind right now, though it could gust to 14 mph.
"For mid-December, not a bad day at Soldier Field." - Wayne Larrivee
Here's some key inactives and actives for today's game:
Packers inactives include Driver, Williams. Sitton is active.
Sitton's health is a big key for a Packers offensive line that will face a heck of a challenge, as they always do, with the Bears' front four.
However, as the Bears' inactives show - Urlacher, Melton, McLellin among them - the Monsters of the Midway's ferocity is highly diminished. Look for the Packers to play well on the ground - and if they do that, game over.
In about 12 hours, the talk ends. The action begins. And the Packers can become king of their NFC neighborhood.
A week of trash talk, jabber, verbal barbs between the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears culminates at noon when they start their 186th battle.
Packers Coach Mike McCarthy told Newsradio 620 WTMJ's "Wisconsin's Morning News" this week that the verbosity between these squads through the media won't score any points.
"The game is about on the field. I understand the job of the media, the energy, the marketing aspect of making the game more interesting than it may be perceived to be, but this game has such great history, great players who have played in this game. That's what it's all about at the end of the day," explained McCarthy.
"That's what I want the game to be known for."
Some things to know about - my key for Sunday's game:
- The only way I foresee Chicago making a dramatic dent in the Packers' offense will come from the front four. If they don't, the Packers will slice and dice them to shreds.
With Josh Sitton now questionable for Sunday due to a hip problem, the Bears' defensive line - traditionally an issue for the Packers - could become more fearsome.
But they must dominate for Chicago to have a shot.
If not, Aaron Rodgers will have plenty of time to shred the Bears defense, something he's done rather well the last few meetings.
In their previous three games, Rodgers has gone 71-99 for 799 passing yards, nine touchdown passes and just two interceptions - a passer rating of 117.4.
Plus, the Packers have run incredibly well the past five weeks, averaging 135.8 yards per game on the ground.
If the injured Packers front line can handle Chicago's sometimes-dominant defensive line, it's game over, and hand the divisional crown to the Packers.