Insider: Thumbs up to Jordy Nelson
The victory allowed Green Bay (6-3) to remain one game behind NFC North-leading Detroit (7-2), which rallied in the final minute Sunday to defeat Miami 20-16. In their final seven games this season, the Lions' opponents are 32-31 overall and the Packers' opponents are 33-29. Green Bay hosts Detroit in the final weekend of the regular season, likely for the division title.
It could be argued that this game turned when Chicago decided to start Jay Cutler at quarterback. After all, Cutler entered the game 1-9 as a Bears starter vs. Green Bay. He had thrown 20 interceptions to 12 touchdowns.
When nickel back Micah Hyde jumped a pass route by tight end Martellus Bennett and picked off Cutler only 8 minutes, 58 seconds into the game, it looked like the same old script playing out. Four plays later, Aaron Rodgers connected with Andrew Quarless for a 4-yard touchdown, a 14-0 lead and, as it turned out, the ballgame.
Jordy Nelson just keeps getting wide open deep down the right sideline. It happened again on the first play of the second quarter when Chicago cornerback Tim Jennings released Nelson to a safety who wasn't there to help.
The result was a 73-yard touchdown, his fourth TD reception of 50 or more yards this season. Then, on Green Bay's next possession, Nelson caught a 40-yard touchdown pass and the rout was on.
Nelson moved up the ranks in the Packers record book, passing Billy Howton for eighth place in touchdown receptions with 44 and Carroll Dale for 10th place in receiving yards with 5,479.
When Aaron Rodgers came out to play in the second half, with a 42-0 lead and fresh off a hamstring tweak, is was a curious decision.
When he returned for the second series of the second half, it was just plain arrogant. What was there to be gained? Records, certainly. But exposing him to a humiliated Bears defense and risking injury was just not smart.
The game was essentially over by halftime. It should have been Matt Flynn's turn to mop up. Flynn finally took over with 7:44 left in the third quarter.
DID YOU NOTICE?
-- The Bears had given up a franchise-record 38 first-half points to the New England Patriots in their most-recent game. On Sunday, the Packers broke that record with 42 first-half points. It should be noted that the Bears franchise dates to 1919.
-- Green Bay is 22-7 all-time in Sunday night games, an NFL-best .759 winning percentage.
-- Green Bay has beaten Chicago nine times in the past 10 meetings, but the Bears still hold a 93-91-6 edge in the series, including two playoff games. The last time Green Bay led the overall series: 1932, when it was 11-10-5 against Chicago.
-- Aaron Rodgers is 21-3 against the Bears as the starting quarterback. He's also won nine in a row against Chicago in games he's thrown at least five passes … meaning, don't count the first game last season when he was knocked out early with a broken collarbone.
-- Green Bay has won 15 of its past 19 games following the bye week. Under coach Mike McCarthy, the Packers are 8-1 in the game following the bye.
RANTS AND RAVES
RAVE: The Packers' defense against the run, which entered Sunday night's game as the worst in the NFL, came to play against the Bears. Granted, this one was out of reach early and Chicago was forced to throw to try to catch up. But before that, Green Bay effectively shut down running back Matt Forte, holding him to six yards on four first-quarter carries. Forte finished with 54 yards on 17 carries (a 3.2-yard average) after torching the Packers for 122 yards in the teams' first matchup this season. In that game, the Bears totaled 235 rushing yards. Then, two weeks ago, Green Bay allowed New Orleans to roll up 193 rushing yards, 172 from Mark Ingram. Sunday marked the first time in 11 games (12 counting the playoffs) that the Packers didn't allow more than 100 yards rushing. The return from injury of safety Morgan Burnett cannot be understated in Green Bay's success.
RANT: Did the Packers get a bit lackadaisical after Casey Hayward returned a Jay Cutler interception 82 yards for a touchdown and a 55-7 lead? It sure looked like it on the ensuing kickoff, when Chicago's Chris Williams raced 101 yards through Green Bay's kick coverage unit for a touchdown. Even the usually reliable Mason Crosby couldn't get a hand on Williams.
RAVE: Green Bay held Jay Cutler to a 68.8 quarterback rating, the seventh time in nine games it held the opposing starting quarterback to a passer rating below 85.0 this season. The other six: Carolina's Cam Newton 72.6, Miami's Ryan Tannehill 81.5, Minnesota's Christian Ponder 45.8, Cutler 82.5, Detroit's Matthew Stafford 61.6 and New York Jets' Geno Smith 64.1.