4:25 PM ET, December 29, 2013
Soldier Field, Chicago, IL
He returned from a broken collarbone and is taking aim at a postseason run, even if it took one big pass to get there.
More Packers-Bears coverage
The Packers knew as long as they had No. 12 on the field Sunday, their playoff hopes were in safe hands, Rob Demovsky writes. Story
Jay Cutler finally had a strong game against the Packers, but as usual, it came in a losing cause, Michael C. Wright writes. Story
"This is a special group of guys who've been through a lot," Rodgers said. "It's been a rollercoaster."
Back after missing seven games with a broken left collarbone, Rodgers found a wide-open Cobb on fourth-and-8 to wipe out a one-point deficit with 38 seconds left.
Green Bay will host San Francisco next weekend in the wild-card round.
That gave the Packers (8-7-1) their third straight division title and fifth postseason appearance in a row. It also kept the Bears (8-8) out of the playoffs for the sixth time in seven years.
Things weren't looking great for the Packers after Chicago's Brandon Marshall spun away from Tramon Williams in the end zone on the first play of the fourth quarter to make it 28-20. But Green Bay answered with a touchdown drive.
Then, on the winning drive, Green Bay converted twice on fourth-and-1 before Rodgers eluded pressure and unleashed that winning pass to Cobb.
King In The North
Aaron Rodgers returned to the Packers just in time to lead them to a division title. Here's how Green Bay has done with Rodgers at the helm compared to his replacements.
|Yds per att||8.7||7.2|
-- ESPN Stats & Information
"We had a blitz on," Bears coach Marc Trestman said. "We lost an edge. Aaron was able to get outside. Once he got outside things happen. When you've got a zero blitz on things can happen. And we just lost coverage with our eyes in the backfield."
For Rodgers, it was a strong finish after a shaky start, and it gave him some payback against the team that nearly ended his season.
He was intercepted on the Packers' first two possessions but threw for 318 yards and two touchdowns in his first appearance since he was injured in a loss to Chicago on Nov. 4.
Cobb, in his first appearance since Oct. 13, caught just two passes but both were for touchdowns.
"To be in that moment at the end of the game and have that opportunity, it's a blessing," Cobb said.
For the Bears, their first season under Trestman ended the same way five of the previous six did under Lovie Smith -- on the outside looking in at the playoffs.
This loss is sure to spark memories of Green Bay's victory in the 2010 NFC title game at Soldier Field on the way to the Super Bowl championship -- and fuel more questions about Cutler's ability to win big games even though he played well.
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With a playoff spot on the line and his contract set to expire, Cutler threw for 226 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. He is now 1-9 against Green Bay, including that conference final and a loss with Denver in 2007.
Marshall guaranteed Cutler will be back next season, and Cutler said he'd like to return.
"You'd love to," Cutler said. "You can't predict the future, though. I'm not really going to get into what's going to happen. It always works out how it's supposed to."
Matt Forte ran for 110 yards and two scores. He also had 47 yards receiving with a touchdown catch.
Jeffery had 80 yards receiving, and Marshall had 74.
Two unusual plays late in the first half turned a 7-3 deficit into a 13-7 advantage for the Packers.
Green Bay had a first down at the Chicago 17 when a sack and strip against Rodgers by Peppers turned into a wild touchdown. Jarrett Boykin ran across the field, picked up the loose ball as play stopped. One thing, though: The whistle never blew.
With Rodgers standing nearby, Boykin turned and headed 15 yards to the end zone, and after a replay review, it stood.
That stunned the crowd and gave the Packers a 10-7 lead.
Green Bay caught another big break on the Bears' next possession when Jeffery fumbled a pass at the Chicago 41. Morgan Burnett picked up the ball and lateraled to Shields, who returned it to the Chicago 28. That led to a 27-yard field goal by Mason Crosby to make it a six-point game at the half.
As for Boykin's fumble recovery, Rodgers said it was one of the strangest plays he could recall.
"Boykin finally picked it up, I looked back at (referee) Clete (Blakeman), he was looking at us so I think myself and everybody on the sideline was telling him to start running," Rodgers said. "It was one of the crazier plays I've been part of."
Bears RT Jordan Mills had his left foot in a walking boot and was on crutches after being injured on the game's first offensive series. ... Green Bay's Josh Boyd suffered a hip injury in the second half.
CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 29: Quarterback Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers warms up prior to a game...(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Team Stat Comparison
Passing 1st downs
Rushing 1st downs
1st downs from penalties
3rd down efficiency
4th down efficiency
|Yards per play||6.2||7.0|
Yards per pass
Yards per rush
|Red Zone (Made-Att)||4-7||4-4|
|Defensive / Special Teams TDs||1||0|
|TD||2:12||Matt Forte 4 Yard Pass From Jay Cutler (Robbie Gould Kick is Good)|
Drive info: 8 plays, 80 yds, 3:36
|FG||8:04||Mason Crosby 33 Yard Field Goal is Good|
Drive info: 10 plays, 49 yds, 4:46
|TD||3:34||Jarrett Boykin 15 Yard Fumble Return (Mason Crosby Kick is Good)|
Drive info: 6 plays, 41 yds, 2:41
|FG||0:07||Mason Crosby 27 Yard Field Goal is Good|
Drive info: 7 plays, 19 yds, 1:45
|TD||10:51||Matt Forte 5 Yard Run (Robbie Gould Kick is Good)|
Drive info: 5 plays, 30 yds, 2:32
|TD||7:32||Randall Cobb 7 Yard Pass From Aaron Rodgers (Mason Crosby Kick is Good)|
Drive info: 7 plays, 80 yds, 3:19
|TD||5:07||Matt Forte 1 Yard Run (Robbie Gould Kick is Good)|
Drive info: 4 plays, 74 yds, 2:23
|TD||15:00||Brandon Marshall 5 Yard Pass From Jay Cutler (Robbie Gould Kick is Good)|
Drive info: 7 plays, 68 yds, 3:32
|TD||11:43||Eddie Lacy 6 Yard Run (Mason Crosby Kick is Good)|
Drive info: 6 plays, 77 yds, 3:17
|TD||0:46||Randall Cobb 48 Yard Pass From Aaron Rodgers (Aaron Rodgers Pass For Two-Point Conversion is No Good)|
Drive info: 15 plays, 87 yds, 5:46
Jay Cutler's performance Sunday was efficient and effective, and he helped guide the Bears into a position to beat the Packers. - For the first time in his Bears career against the Packers, Cutler threw more touchdowns than interceptions (2-1). - Cutler threw only one incomplete pass due to an under- or overthrown pass Sunday, tied for his fewest in a game with the Bears (min. 15 attempts). - Cutler completed multiple passes more than 30 yards downfield for the fourth time in his Bears career.
The Bears were beaten by Rodgers and Cobb on pass that traveled 38 yards past the line of scrimmage. It was Rodgers' first attempt 30 yards or more on the game. This season, the Bears have allowed 8-of-15 passes (53.3 percent) thrown 30-plus yards to be completed. The league average on those passes is 29.6 percent.
Both of Rodgers' touchdown passes to Cobb Sunday were thrown from outside of the pocket. Since the start of 2011, Cobb's first season with the team, Rodgers has thrown a team-high five touchdowns to Cobb outside the pocket, and has targeted him more than any other wide receiver. - Rodgers was only 2-of-2 targeting Cobb Sunday, but the duo have connected on 77.1 percent of their passes since 2011, best of any QB-WR duo with 150 attempts.
The Bears sent five or more pass rushers on 40 percent of Aaron Rodgers' dropbacks Sunday. The strategy worked early on as Rodgers threw both his interceptions against such pressure. However, on 4th-and-8 the Bears brought seven and Rodgers was able to escape and find Randall Cobb deep. - Rodgers was put under duress on the touchdown pass to Cobb. Rodgers was 0-of-4 with an interception when pressured prior to the play.[+]
Aaron Rodgers Facing 5+ Pass Rushers, Sunday
The Packers' win probability rose from 40.7% to 99.5% after Aaron Rodgers' 48-yard touchdown pass to Randall Cobb on 4th-and-8. It was the biggest play in terms of win probability added in Rodgers' career and one of the biggest plays of the year. The Packers converted three times on 4th down on their final drive, becoming the 2nd team to convert three 4th-down plays on a drive this season (the Saints did so in Week 15 vs Rams in the 4th quarter).
The Packers look to be getting Aaron Rodgers and Randall Cobb back for Week 17. No quarterback-wide receiver combo has connected on a higher percentage of passes since Cobb entered the NFL in 2011.[+]
Best Comp Pct - QB-WR Duos Since 2011
This is the first time (in the regular season) that Aaron Rodgers has thrown multiple interceptions in a game against the Bears.
From Elias: Green Bay didn't have any Pro Bowlers named. There's still a chance some could be chosen to go as injury replacements, but as it stands they would join the 2010 Seahawks as the only division winners since 1970 without any Pro Bowlers on the roster with a win on Sunday.
With the news that Aaron Rodgers will make the start this Sunday against the Bears. One might think the Packers QB will look to throw the ball downfield a little. Judging by how well Green Bay has run the ball this season, and how BAD the Bears are at stopping the run, Eddie Lacy and James Starks should get a healthy amount of running opportunities..[+]
PACKERS RUSH OFFENSE vs BEARS RUSH DEFENSE
Jay Cutler's 15.4 Total QBR Sunday was his worst in a start since Week 15 last season against the Packers (7.9 - min 10 action plays). Bad news for Cutler, he plays the Packers in a "Win-or-go home" game next week. Cutler has a 24.3 career Total QBR against the Packers, his worst against any opponent with a minimum of 100 action plays. Not only that, he has NFL Total QBR leader Josh McCown (85.0) breathing down his neck.[+]
Jay Cutler Worst Career Total QBR by Opponent (Including Postseason)
Aaron Rodgers has a 70.3 Total QBR, 5th best in the league. All other Packers QBs have combined for a 25.5 Total QBR this season.
Randall Cobb's touchdown reception in the 3rd quarter was the first time he was targeted in the game.
Aaron Rodgers and Jay Cutler have taken the field as opposing quarterbacks 8 times and Rodgers has won 7 of them. Cutler's thrown 9 more interceptions than touchdowns. Cutler's only win playing against Aaron Rodgers came in week 3 on Monday Night Football in 2010...[+]
HEAD TO HEAD AS STARTING QUARTERBACKS
ESPN Stats & Information