Aaron Rodgers throws for 2 TDs, runs for another to guide Green Bay Packers over Chicago Bears 24-14
CHICAGO - If the Chicago Bears ever close the quarterback gap with the Green Bay Packers, it will have to wait another year.
The Packers cruised to a 24-14 win Sunday against their NFC North rival inside Soldier Field with Aaron Rodgers asserting himself as the division’s top quarterback, while Bears rookie Justin Fields looked his young age.
Rodgers threw for two touchdowns and ran for another. After that score, he shouted some choice words to Bears fans in the stands. "I still own you! I still own you," shouted Rodgers, who raised his career record against the Bears to 22-5.
It was the Packers’ fifth straight win, positioning themselves near the top of the NFC. A loss could have pulled the Bears within a first-place tie in the NFC North at 4-2, while holding the head-to-head tiebreaker against the Packers. Instead, the Packers effectively took a three-game lead in the division over the Bears with the head-to-head tiebreaker.
Here are five observations from Sunday’s game:
BOX SCORE: Packers 24, Bears 14
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Rodgers missing deep ball
It wasn’t complete dominance from Rodgers. Late in the third quarter, the Packers opened a drive by taking a shot to receiver Allen Lazard. Though Lazard is not known for his speed, he ran behind the Bears' secondary wide open. Aaron Rodgers had a big play, but he overshot Lazard. That’s becoming a bit of a trend this season. Rodgers has overshot the deep ball with more frequency than in the past. That best example might be Week 2 against the Detroit Lions, when he overshot Marquez Valdes-Scantling deep three times against the Detroit Lions. With a quarterback as accurate as Rodgers, it’s always surprising when those potential big plays don’t connect. Rodgers finished 17-of-23 passing for 195 yards, two touchdowns, a 128 rating and rushed for the game-sealing touchdown from 6 yards out late in the fourth quarter.
Two-headed backfield delivers again
Both Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon had a run longer than 25 yards, highlighting another big day for the pair of Packers running backs. Jones and Dillon have been doing it through the air and on the ground this season, and Sunday was no different. Jones caught a 12-yard touchdown pass from Rodgers, his fourth receiving touchdown this season, setting a new career high. Jones and Dillon combined for 112 rushing yards on 20 carries. Jones had 76 rushing yards and 34 receiving yards, his fourth game in the past five with at least 100 yards of offense. (His lone game in that stretch without 100 yards of offense was against Pittsburgh, when Jones had 99.)
Packers show red-zone creativity
With his offense slumping inside the 20 this season, coach Matt LaFleur talked about having more creative red-zone calls in his playbook. He just needed to dial them up. LaFleur pulled one out on a third-and-goal from the 1-yard line early in the second quarter. The Packers went with an empty backfield, surprising given the situation. They jet motioned Jones from wide right, attracting the eyes of everyone from reporters in the press box to Bears defenders on the field. With the attention on Jones, Rodgers flicked a shovel pass to Lazard behind the offensive line. It was a nifty sleight of hand for the Packers to score their first touchdown and increase their red-zone efficiency.
Bomb punter: Bojorquez booms one 82 yards
The third quarter ended with Packers punter Corey Bojorquez booming the most impressive boot for this team in many years. From near his own goal line, Bojorquez punted the ball 82 yards. His punt sailed over the head of the Bears'punt returner, who couldn’t have been expecting such a bomb. It rolled into the opposite end zone, chopping the net yardage down to a still-whopping 62. Bojorquez had a 56-yard average on three punts Sunday, stunning numbers for a punter. That’s one way to win the field-position battle.
Injuries keep mounting for banged-up Packers
The Packers already entered Sunday’s game with the top of their roster depleted with injuries. Even with Elgton Jenkins’ return Sunday, the Packers were down their top two cornerbacks (Jaire Alexander, Kevin King), top pass rusher (Za’Darius Smith), top offensive lineman (David Bakhtiari) and No. 2 receiver (Marquez Valdes-Scantling). Injuries continued to mount in Chicago. Center Josh Myers left on the first drive with a knee injury and did not return. Outside linebacker Preston Smith left with an oblique injury and did not return. Safety Darnell Savage left with a concussion and did not return. The Packers, already facing their most dire medical situation in LaFleur’s three seasons, overcame the additional injuries to win their fifth straight game. Still, this is a roster that needs to get some good luck with its health.