Bears 3

(11-5, 6-2 away)

Packers 10

(10-6, 7-1 home)

Coverage: FOX

4:15 PM ET, January 2, 2011

Lambeau Field, Green Bay, WI 

1 2 3 4 T
CHI 0 3 0 03
GB 0 0 3 710

Top Performers

Passing: A. Rodgers (GB) - 229 YDS, 1 TD, 1 INT

Rushing: M. Forte (CHI) - 15 CAR, 91 YDS

Receiving: G. Jennings (GB) - 4 REC, 97 YDS

Defense, Aaron Rodgers' late TD lead Packers into playoffs

Associated Press

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- There's no such thing as an ugly win when it clinches a playoff berth.

Especially when it comes against a division rival playing all-out for a knockout.

The Green Bay Packers are in the playoffs thanks to their 10-3 victory over the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field on Sunday. And as might be expected in a season that began with Super Bowl expectations but nearly was derailed by injuries and inconsistency, it wasn't easy.

"I'm very proud of our football team, just what we've accomplished," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "Nothing's come easy for us, and we wouldn't want it any other way."

Aaron Rodgers' 1-yard touchdown pass to tight end Donald Lee gave the Packers the lead in the fourth quarter, and their defense did the rest. Nick Collins' interception of Jay Cutler stopped the Bears on a late drive.

The Packers (10-6) will play at Philadelphia on Sunday afternoon.

"Tonight was a struggle, but it's nice to keep that momentum going," Rodgers said. "We've won two in a row and now we've got to go [on the road]. And we can't have the kind of inconsistent performances we've had this year that have forced us to be the No. 6 seed."

Needing a win to get into the postseason, the Packers trailed 3-0 at halftime and were tied going into the fourth quarter with the Bears (11-5) -- a team that didn't have anything to play for in terms of playoff seeding but still played its starters, just as Bears coach Lovie Smith promised he would all week.

"Knowing that we had the bye week we weren't playing for an awful lot," Smith said. "We just wanted to keep momentum going. We haven't peaked yet, still, I thought there were some things that we could've improved upon."

Now that the Packers are in, Donald Driver believes they can be a dangerous playoff opponent.

"Those guys told us during the game they didn't want us in," Driver said. "That tells you how much people are scared of us. They didn't want to see us, and now they've got to see us."

But Green Bay didn't look anything like the team that steamrolled the New York Giants to keep its playoff hopes alive last week, at least not for three quarters.

Rodgers threw for 229 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He saluted the defense after the game, but noted that the offense will have to be better to win in the playoffs.

"We can't expect them to hold every team to three points," Rodgers said.

Matt Forte had 91 yards rushing and 60 yards receiving for Chicago, which came into Sunday's game assured of a first-round playoff bye as the No. 2 seed in the NFC.

"We weren't playing for anything," Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher said. "Everything we needed to do was done already. The crowd was loud because there was a lot on the line for them. It didn't seem like a playoff game to me."

Jay Cutler threw for 168 yards with a pair of interceptions and was sacked six times, but he stayed in the game. Smith said he never considered taking his quarterback out of harm's way.

"Why would we do that? I mean, there's a game on the line, we're trying to win a football game," Smith said. "No. That was never part of the mindset at all. We have a week off and we saw it like that."

Cutler joked afterward that he told his coach to rethink his approach to the game, but didn't seem overly concerned about the protection breakdowns.

"There's no real problems out there," Cutler said.

The Packers came into Sunday's game knowing they needed to win to get into the playoffs after Tampa Bay beat New Orleans earlier in the day. The Bears didn't have anything to gain in terms of playoff seeding but played to win.

They didn't quite pull it off, but linebacker Lance Briggs said they made some progress on defense.

"The last couple of weeks teams have been scoring a lot of points on us," Briggs said. "It was important to us for the Packers to only get 10 points. We were effective when we did the things we needed to do."

Rodgers finally made some big plays in the fourth quarter, throwing for 21 yards to Driver and 46 yards to Jennings to set up the touchdown to Lee, giving the Packers the lead with 12:42 left in the game.

"I like our chances," Packers cornerback Charles Woodson said. "We feel good about our team. We've had some down moments this year, we've had a lot of injuries, but if you look at this team, we just kept fighting and now we find ourselves with a chance to get into the playoffs and make some noise."

Game notes

Smith said linebacker Nick Roach sustained a shoulder injury, safety Chris Harris had a stinger and safety Major Wright had a leg injury, but Smith said he didn't think any of the injuries were serious. ... Packers coach Mike McCarthy said the team had no additional injuries coming out of Sunday's game. "Highlight of the day so far," he joked. ... An awkwardly timed time out by the Bears' bench nullified a long third-down conversion in the third quarter, but Smith didn't dwell on it. "I called timeout," he said. "We weren't in the right formation for the play."

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

1st Downs1314
Passing 1st downs
Rushing 1st downs
1st downs from penalties
3rd down efficiency
4th down efficiency
Total Plays6553
Total Yards227284
Yards per play3.55.4
Total Drives1313
Yards per pass
Interceptions thrown
Sacks-Yards Lost
Rushing Attempts
Yards per rush
Red Zone (Made-Att)0-21-2
Fumbles lost
Interceptions thrown
Defensive / Special Teams TDs00

Passing Leaders


Rushing Leaders


Receiving Leaders


Scoring Summary

chiFG4:35Robbie Gould 30 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 10 plays, 62 yds, 5:15
gbFG2:43Mason Crosby 23 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 6 plays, 39 yds, 3:26
gbTD12:46Donald Lee 1 Yard Pass From Aaron Rodgers (Mason Crosby Kick is Good)
Drive info: 5 plays, 75 yds, 2:50

Research Notes

The Packers have held opponents to single-digits in points six times this season. The last three times they've done that previously (1962, 1966, 1996), they won the NFL Championship (the last two, happened to be Super Bowls)

RodgersAaron Rodgers was held in check deep into the third quarter, but elevated his play after the game became a race to the finish. Since the beginning of 2008, only Drew Brees had thrown more pass attempts with a tie score than Rodgers.

Jay Cutler made a critical mistake he had been guilty of all season and it sealed a wild card position for the Packers on Sunday. With the Bears driving late, Cutler overthrew Devin Hester between the left hash and left-side field numbers for an interception to end his day. Among quarterbacks with at least 100 attempts entering Sunday, Cutler ranked 27th in the NFL in passer rating when throwing to the left side of the field. Cutler finished the game completing just 6 of 14 passes with an 18.8 passer rating and both of his interceptions coming in that direction.
Entering Week 17, Jay Cutler had a 95.3 passer rating on throws at least 15 yards downfield. Against the Packers though, Cutler went 0-for-7 and threw two interceptions (0.0 passer rating) on such passes against the Packers. The second interception came at the hands of safety Nick Collins to seal the win for the Packers with 20 seconds left in regulation.
NEXT-LEVEL: The Packers blitzed a member of the secondary 16 times in the second half against Jay Cutler and the Bears and 19 times total. Prior to Week 17, the most the Packers had blitzed a defensive back in a single-game was 16 times in Week 11 vs the Vikings.
Among quarterbacks who entered Week 17 with at least 75 attempts, Aaron Rodgers led the NFL in completion percentage and ranked second in passer rating behind only Tom Brady when throwing against a loaded box. Rodgers was excellent once again as the Bears loaded the box with more defenders than offensive blockers on 25 percent of Rodgers' pass attempts on Sunday. The Packers quarterback completed 5 of those 7 attempts for a 122.6 passer rating which included the only touchdown for either team in the game.
NEXT-LEVEL: Aaron Rodgers started the game going just 1-for-4 with an interception throwing at least 15 yards downfield. Rodgers completed three of his next four throws at least 15 yards downfield, with two ending at the one yard line and setting up both Packers scores. Since Rodgers became the starter in 2008, he had gone just 11-for-35 (31.4 pct) with one touchdown and two interceptions on throws 15 or more yards downfield against the Bears.

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