Packers' fans worst fears came true tonight.
Aaron Rodgers suffered a shoulder injury at the end of Green Bay's first drive of the game and was shelved for the rest of the game. The defense didn't come to play, missing tackles left and right and leaking like a sieve. All of those factors erased Eddie Lacy's career day (22 carries, 150 yards, 1 TD) and dropped the Packers back into a three-way tie for the lead in the NFC North as the Bears won in Lambeau Field by a score of 27-20.
The Packers' offense got off to a quick start. Rodgers scrambled for nine yards on the first play from scrimmage, but a facemask penalty on Stephen Paea added on another 15 yards. Eddie Lacy got a few carries, including a 16-yarder, and a long catch-and-run by Jordy Nelson put the Packers in field goal range. The Packers couldn't convert, and Mason Crosby kicked a short field goal to put the Packers on the board.
The scary part of the first series was on the third-and-8 from the 12, when Rodgers was sacked by Shea McClellin. He landed awkwardly on his left shoulder, and had to go to the locker room to be checked out between offensive series, but did not return. He returned to the sidelines in the second half, but he was in street clothes. Luckily, he was not wearing a sling, which would have been a clear sign that he had a broken collarbone.
The Bears started out with a few passes to Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery for first downs on their first drive to get inside the 30. A missed sack by Mike Neal allowed Josh McCown to get a perfectly-thrown ball away to Brandon Marshall in the corner of the end zone, where he made a falling catch over Tramon Williams for the first touchdown of the game, giving the Bears a 7-3 lead.
Then it became the Seneca Wallace and Eddie Lacy show, with the Packers eventually announcing that Rodgers would not return. Lacy ran the ball six times for 37 yards on the ensuing drive, and Wallace completed his first pass to Myles White for a gain of eight. Unfortunately, Wallace had a short slant pass tipped at the line by Julius Peppers, who corralled the ball for an interception near midfield.
Then, the momentum turned right on its head.
After a three and out (finished off by Datone Jones' first career sack on third down), the Bears lined up to punt. Jamari Lattimore apparently forgot he wasn't starting, and broke through the line to block the punt, which was recovered by (I think) Ryan Taylor. On the ensuing play from the Bears' 32, James Starks got a hole about 20 yards wide to run through and was off to the races, coasting into the end zone with Charles Tillman on his hip for a touchdown to bring the Packers back ahead again 10-7.
The Bears and Packers traded punts before the Bears struck back. A 33-yard screen pass to Matt Forte and a 27-yard pass to Martellus Bennett got the Bears down to the goal line. On second and goal from a spread formation, Forte ran up the gut untouched for a score to give the Bears a 14-10 lead.
Shortly before the end of the first half, the Bears took over after a Tim Masthay punt pinned them at their own one-yard line. McCown led a long drive down the field with passes to Brandon Marshall, runs by Matt Forte, and even a 20-yard scramble by McCown himself. However, he overthrew Alshon Jeffery in the end zone with a few seconds left and the Bears settled for a field goal to take a 17-10 lead into the half.
The second half got off to a great start for the Packers, however. After forcing a three-and-out on the Bears' first drive, Eddie Lacy got loose. He took off up the middle on the first offensive play and sprinted up the right sideline for 56 yards down to the one before punching in a goal-line score on the next play to tie the game. Mike McCarthy showed his creative side on the ensuing kickoff by calling an onside kick, which Micah Hyde tipped to Jamari Lattimore for the recovery. The Packers drove down inside the ten, but could not get in the end zone and had to settle for a field goal, but it gave Green Bay a 20-17 lead.
Late in the third, the Bears got a good punt return from Devin Hester which gave them the ball just on the Packers' side of midfield. Matt Forte picked up chunks of yardage both on a swing pass and in the ground, and the drive culminated in an Alshon Jeffery touchdown with Davon House in coverage. At that point, the Bears led 24-20.
Both offenses stalled for a while in the early part of the fourth quarter until the Bears got the ball back with about 8 minutes left. Chicago went for and got a fourth-and-inches from inside their own 35, in one of the more gutsy decisions you'll see from a head coach in the NFL. That play and two more third down conversions allowed the Bears to take just under nine minutes off the clock on the drive, which ended with a field goal. That gave the Packers the ball back at the 25 with 46 seconds left, down 27-20.
A quick hit to Jordy Nelson picked up 15 yards before 87 got out of bounds to stop the clock, but Wallace was sacked on the next two plays by Corey Wootton and Shea McClellin to end the game.
With the loss, the Packers fall to 5-3, as the Bears improve to that same record. This leaves those two teams in a three-way tie with the Detroit Lions for control of the division.