Pack Wins 5th Straight, Ends Bears Playoff Hopes

By: AP Email
By: AP Email

CHICAGO(AP) The way this one started, Ryan Grant and the Green Bay Packers looked as if they were going to run away with their fifth straight win. Aaron Rodgers sure thought they would.

Instead, they had to earn this one.

Grant ran for 137 yards and two touchdowns, and the Packers beat the Chicago Bears 21-14 on Sunday after letting their lead slip away.

Grant broke off a season-long 62-yard touchdown on the Packers' first play from scrimmage and scored the go-ahead TD in the fourth quarter after Nick Collins intercepted Jay Cutler .

''The way we started, I felt like we're going to go blow them out by two or three touchdowns,'' Rodgers said.

Instead, they wasted touchdown chances and settled for field goals, yet they did just enough to pull this one out and keep the momentum building as they prepare for a playoff run.

''We're playing better football,'' Grant said. ''I think we're getting confidence. It's a legit confidence. We're playing better football.''

Rodgers threw for 180 yards, Jermichael Finley caught five passes for 70, and Charles Woodson added his 44th career interception for the Packers (9-4), who have won five straight.

The Bears (5-8) lost for the seventh time in nine games and were eliminated from the playoff picture, according to STATS LLC. That makes it three straight postseason misses since the 2006 team's Super Bowl run.

Optimism soared after the big trade with Denver for Cutler, but the Bears plummeted after a 3-1 start.

Tied for the league lead entering the game, Cutler now has 22 interceptions after getting picked off twice. He did throw for 209 yards and two touchdowns even though Devin Hester missed the game with a calf injury, but it's hard to win when a team racks up 13 penalties for 109 yards.

It's not easy, either, when it runs for just 59 yards and averages 3.5 per carry, as the Bears did.

''Turnovers, penalties, every time it seemed like we got going something bad happened,'' Cutler said. ''It's something that's happened all year to us. It's hard to be a good offensive team when that happens.''

Cutler, who had four interceptions in a season-opening loss at Green Bay, threw a costly one with a 14-13 lead early in the fourth quarter. Collins picked off a pass to Johnny Knox and returned it 32 yards to the Chicago 11, setting up a 1-yard scoring run by Grant. Rodgers hit Jennings for the 2-point conversion, making it 21-14 with 12:39 left in the game, and the Packers swept the Bears for the first time since 2003.

Grant got things off to a good start when he broke off that touchdown run, but they settled for two field goals after stalling deep in Chicago territory while building a 13-7 halftime lead. That quickly disappeared after Rodgers fumbled the ball away as he dropped back to pass at the Chicago 29 on the first drive of the third quarter - a play he called ''one of the more embarrassing'' of his career.

He first caught the ball after it popped loose and tried to throw again, but it popped out. Anthony Adams recovered it, the Bears took over at their 44, and Devin Aromashodu spun for a 10-yard TD reception with Woodson draped on him to give Chicago a 14-13 lead with 9:35 left in the third - a surprising turn given the way this one started.

Grant broke through a hole on the left side on the Packers' first play from scrimmage and ran untouched into the end zone for a 7-0 lead.

''It really opened up,'' Grant said. ''(Bears linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer ) flew over the top. John (Kuhn) did a great job of covering him up. I saw that (Lance) Briggs kinda got locked in. Then, it was just me one on one with the safety. I think his angle was a little outside me, so I just used my wheels.''

Rather than roll to an easy win, the Packers settled for two field goals by Mason Crosby on drives that stalled deep in Chicago territory as the lead reached 13-0 early in the second quarter.

Cutler finally gave the restless crowd something to cheer when he found Knox on the right side of the end zone with a 19-yarder that that made it 13-7 with 1:48 remaining in the half, capping an 80-yard drive.

''After starting the way we did, we got ourselves back in position,'' coach Lovie Smith said. ''We got momentum back on our side, but normally in games like that there are a couple critical plays that really determine who wins and who loses and we didn't get it done. It's tough.''

NOTES: Grant had a 66-yard run against the Bears two years ago. He now has 1,068, giving him more than 1,000 for the second straight year. ... B.J. Raji started for the Packers at nose tackle in Ryan Pickett 's place. He got a stinger in the first half but returned. ... Aromashodu had eight catches for 76 yards in his first start with the Bears. ... Knox had five receptions for 83.


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