Rodgers comeback over Bears in '09 led Packers on path to prominence
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GREEN BAY - Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is considered one of the best quarterbacks in the game today, but the jury was out on him when the Packers hosted the Chicago Bears in September of 2009.
Three years ago to the day of the 2012 Packers-Bears game at Lambeau Field, Rodgers led a late comeback and took himself and his team on another step to becoming a powerhouse. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
When the Packers stepped into the national spotlight under Lambeau's lights in their season-opener against the Bears, there were still questions surrounding Rodgers.
The defensively-deficient 2008 Packers had gone 6-10. Despite all that Aaron Rodgers had accomplished in his first season as a starter, he hadn't led a comeback win, compared to more than 40 for his famously-departed predecessor, Brett Favre. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Could he lead a Packers team from behind?
The Packers and Bears predicated Rodgers' first comeback opportunity of 2009 with a defensive struggle in the game's first 58 minutes. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
It was predicated by two teams' rock-rib defensive performances, and a ball-hawking Packers secondary that helped keep the game scoreless in the first quarter.
After Jay Cutler threw an interception to Nick Collins, Cutler's first of four picks on the night, Mason Crosby started the scoring with a 52-yard bomb through the uprights to give Green Bay a 3-0 lead in the game's second stanza. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
But Chicago's defense put up points of their own.
The Bears used a corner blitz deep in Packers territory, and defensive back Danieal Manning sacked Rodgers in the end zone for a safety. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Still, after Tramon Williams ran back an interception 67 yards to Chicago's one yard line, Ryan Grant finished Green Bay's response.
Grant bounced to the left side and grinded his way for a touchdown run to make it a 10-2 lead heading into the locker room. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Chicago's Devin Hester ended the Bears' drive to start the half by putting up points in an area where he normally didn't make a big impact, on offense.
Cutler beat a Packers blitz and found Hester open for a 36 yard touchdown to make the Packers advantage as slim as a lead can get, 10-9. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Over the next 23 minutes of play, the kickers exchanged field goals, and Chicago took a 15-13 lead.
The stage was set for Aaron Rodgers to finally shine with the football world watching.
With a little more than a minute left, he and his team had the ball at midfield. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
As called by Newsradio 620 WTMJ Voice of the Packers Wayne Larrivee:
"Play action, Rodgers back to throw, lofts it deep down the left side. He's got Jennings at the 10 to the five...touchdown! Aaron Rodgers put a strike right on the eight and the five of the jersey of Greg Jennings! 50 yard touchdown play, and the Packers vault into the lead!" Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
After a two-point conversion, the Packers owned a 21-15 lead.
One more errant Jay Cutler throw later from the Chicago 38 yard line, they owned the game. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
"Snap to Cutler, looking, guns the left side...intercepted by Al Harris! Down the right sidelines with dreadlocks in his wake! He's forced out of bounds by Cutler at the 13 yard line of Chicago!" exulted Larrivee, who then gave his trademark call, "There...is...your...dagger...right through the heart of Jay Cutler and the Chicago Bears!"
Against their archrivals, the Green Bay Packers and their quarterback took their first steps toward the championship greatness they encountered one year later. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel