On a sunny Sunday afternoon in Chicago, the Green Bay Packers’ stars all came to shine. Aaron Rodgers threw for two touchdowns and ran for another, Aaron Jones gained over 100 total yards and a score of his own, and Kenny Clark came up with two game-clinching sacks in the fourth quarter as the Packers defeated the Chicago Bears 24-14 at Soldier Field.
After a rough first 15 minutes, the Packers’ offense figured out what it was doing and got the run game going against a banged-up Bears defensive front. Chicago had all of its key players active, but Akiem Hicks was limited and Khalil Mack still was not his normal game-changing presence. Although Rodgers would not crack 200 passing yards, the Packers ran for over 150 on the Bears defense while the offense scored on three of their four red zone possessions in the contest.
Green Bay’s defense had trouble containing the Bears’ run game at times, as fourth-stringer Khalil Herbert ran for 97 yards and a touchdown while quarterback Justin Field added another 43 yards. But the defense came up with a timely turnover and saw some solid pass rush throughout the game, while the offense did its part to close out the win on the ground late.
The Packers’ offense looked completely discombobulated in the first quarter. Lining up in an empty set often, the team put their offensive line in a difficult position, leading to an early sack each from Khalil Mack and Robert Quinn. The Packers did have both Elgton Jenkins and Josh Myers back to start the game, though Myers left on the first series with a knee injury, but the game plan early on was a disaster as the team picked up just two first downs on their first two series.
Defensively, the Packers started Isaac Yiadom opposite Eric Stokes at cornerback thanks to the absences of Kevin King and Jaire Alexander. Yiadom gave up a big 20-yard completion on the first drive and was flagged for pass interference in the end zone, leading to a quick touchdown run for Khalil Herbert and an early 7-0 Bears lead.
The Packers pulled Yiadom on the second drive for Rasul Douglas, and the coverage on the back end improved moving forward. But the secondary was the beneficiary of a missed call by the referees late in the first quarter, as Kenny Clark appeared to jump offsides on a play near midfield. Bears quarterback Justin Fields definitely expected a free play and lofted a ball into the back of the end zone with no receivers in the vicinity, and Darnell Savage tracked it down for an interception.
Finally, the Packers offense got moving thanks to some nifty running from Jones, the quick passing game, and a mental mistake by a Bears defender. Mario Edwards was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct after taunting Rodgers following a pressure on the first play of the series, helping the Packers out early. Jones then picked up 22 yards on five carries on the ensuing series and Davante Adams took a slant 32 yards to set the Packers up in the red zone. Matt LaFleur dialed up a creative play on third-and-goal from the one-yard line, with Allen Lazard taking a shovel pass into the end zone to tie the game at 7.
A coverage sack by Jonathan Garvin on Justin Fields forced a Bears punt and Amari Rodgers recorded his first notable punt return as a pro, picking up 16 yards to the Packers’ 42-yard line. AJ Dillon pounced on the next play, bursting through the line for a 36-yard gain to set the Packers up in great field position. A rough day for Brad Rogers’ officiating crew got rougher on third and goal, as Equanimeous St. Brown appeared to catch a touchdown in the back of the end zone. The officials first called St. Brown out of bounds and also flagged him for offensive pass interference, despite his feet clearly touching in the end zone and no push-off being evident on the replay. After a discussion, the refs called it a touchdown but still applied the penalty, and Mason Crosby had to come on to give the Packers a 10-7 lead with a 39-yard field goal.
Shortly before the end of the half, the Packers thought they might have another interception on a heave from Fields, as Adrian Amos nearly hauled one in. The play was called incomplete on the field and confirmed on a booth review, as he was ruled to have not established possession of the ball in time to get two feet down in bounds. Dean Lowry would eventually sack Fields to push the Bears out of field goal range before the half.
Coming out of the break, the Packers saw two more key players leave the game with injuries. Outside linebacker Preston Smith was ruled questionable to return with an oblique injury, while Darnell Savage hit his head on Herbert’s knee during a tackle on the first play of the third quarter. The safety would be evaluated for a concussion and missed the remainder of the game, but Green Bay’s defense forced a quick punt and Aaron Jones got to work.
Jones carried the load on the ensuing touchdown drive, breaking off a 28-yard run early on to get the Packers to midfield. He would catch a pair of passes from Rodgers to finish off the 90-yard drive, including a check-down from the 12-yard line. After hauling in that pass, Jones easily shook off safety Tashaun Gipson and scampered to the end zone, leaping over the goal line with Robert Quinn in tow to extend the Packers’ lead to ten points.
Following a Bears punt and a short Packers drive, Corey Bojorquez provided a special teams highlight. Bojorquez boomed a punt well over the head of Bears returner Jakeem Grant, and an unlucky bounce carried it into the end zone. The 82-yard punt was not the longest in Packers history (that belongs to Don Chandler with a 90-yarder in 1965), but it was certainly the longest in recent memory.
While the Packers’ red zone offense was better in this game, their defense would move to 0-for-15 on stopping opponents inside the 20 as the Bears clawed back to within a field goal. Justin Fields found a pair of chunk plays to move Chicago down the field, and it looked like Green Bay could get a stop after a holding penalty pushed the Bears back out to a first-and-20. But Fields was able to overcome that down and distance, eventually hitting Darnell Mooney on a touchdown after Krys Barnes blew his coverage assignment in the end zone.
Soldier Field was rocking at that point, but Aaron Rodgers quieted the crowd quickly. He found Lazard for a first down to start the drive, then hit Adams for a huge 41-yard gain. Rodgers would take the ball in himself to restore the Packers’ ten-point lead, pump-faking to hold Alec Ogletree just enough to reach the pylon for a six-yard touchdown.
With the Bears driving down the field and threatening to get back in the game, Kenny Clark decided to deny them any chance to pull within a score. Clark sacked Fields twice in three plays, with the second coming on third down and pushing the Bears out of field goal range. Down two possessions, the Bears had no choice but to leave the offense on the field for a 4th-and-26 opportunity, which fell incomplete in the end zone. From there, the Packers were able to run out the clock, riding Dillon for four carries and 23 yards to finish off the last two-plus minutes of the game.
All told, Rodgers would finish 17-of-23 for 195 yards and two scores through the air, while adding seven carries for 19 yards and a rushing touchdown. Davante Adams saw a season-low five targets in the game, but he caught four balls for 89 yards. Jones had 110 total yards, 76 on the ground and 34 through the air, to go with his scoring reception.