Nobody can stop Christian Watson.
The Green Bay Packers’ rookie receiver scored another two touchdowns on Sunday, delivering a critical 4th-down catch late in the first half and providing another score on the ground in the fourth quarter to pull the Packers away from the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Those plays gave Watson a total of eight scores in his last four games and nine total on the season as he continues an impressive stretch that saw him earn NFL Offensive Rookie of the Month honors for November.
While Watson did his part offensively, the Packers got a pair of fourth-quarter interceptions from their defense. One came from Jaire Alexander in a one-point game to set up Watson’s second score and Keisean Nixon delivered the other to end any late comeback hopes for the Bears. With the unit struggling to contain Justin Fields in the first half and Alexander giving up multiple big plays over the top, the group played solidly after the break, holding Chicago to just three points after halftime.
Aaron Rodgers did just enough to manage the game and put the Packers in a position to win, finishing 18-for-31 passing for 182 yards and a touchdown. On the ground, AJ Dillon led the way for the Packers thanks to Aaron Jones being in and out of the lineup with a shin injury. Dillon posted his biggest day of the year with 93 yards and a touchdown on the ground and 26 more yards as a receiver. His 21-yard score pulled the Packers back within two points early in the third quarter.
All told, the Packers finished the comeback after trailing by 13 points in the first half, thanks in no small part to Watson’s heroics. With that, the Packers’ extraordinarily slim playoff hopes still remain alive for another week or two, as they finally head into their week 14 bye and do so on a winning note. To make the victory a bit sweeter, it also broke a tie between the two franchises for the most wins in NFL history, giving the Packers 787 in their storied legacy.
The Bears won the opening coin toss but elected to receive, a rarity in today’s NFL. They would get on the board with a field goal on the opening drive, getting into Packers territory with Justin Fields hitting Equanimeous St. Brown on a 24-yard gain. Green Bay would punt on their opening series, picking up an early first down but stalling out after Aaron Jones was stopped for a loss of three yards on a pitch play.
Fields delivered an explosive play with his legs on the next series, splitting the defense off a read-option look. He made Keisean Nixon miss near the line of scrimmage then was gone, easily outrunning De’Vondre Campbell and sprinting to the end zone for a 56-yard touchdown to give the Bears an early 10-0 lead.
The Packers got an explosive play on their next series. With the wind swirling inside Soldier Field, Aaron Rodgers found Allen Lazard over the middle of the field for a 20-yard gain to reach midfield. AJ Dillon’s hard running drove the Packers to the edge of the red zone before Jones took a pitch off the right end to cross the 20-yard line. Green Bay had nothing open on third down from the ten-yard line, setting up a Mason Crosby field goal. He hit from 24 yards out to get the Packers on the board, cutting the Bears’ lead to 10-3 after a drive of more than seven minutes.
Fields and the Bears continued to move the ball on the Packers’ defense, but the unit got a crucial turnover to give Rodgers and company good field position. After a pass to Chase Claypool over the middle, Rasul Douglas knocked the ball out of his hands and Rudy Ford picked it up. The tackle by Douglas got Claypool’s right knee caught up under him, and he fell to the ground clutching his leg. Claypool would return later in the game later, but the turnover held up after replay review, giving the Packers the football at their own 40.
On first down, Rodgers hit Lazard for another gain of 21 yards, crossing midfield quickly. But the offense gave it right back, with Rodgers failing to connect with his receivers on three straight plays, including a 4th-and-8 heave to Randall Cobb in the end zone. That turned the ball over on downs, sending the Bears back on the field near their own 40.
Fields struck immediately, hitting St. Brown for a huge gain of 56 yards over the head of Jaire Alexander. Two plays later, David Montgomery ran through multiple tackle attempts, finding the end zone on a 7-yard score. Cairo Santos would miss the extra point, but the Bears’ lead still expanded to 16-3.
After a miss on a deep ball to Christian Watson on first down, the Packers moved the chains as Rodgers escaped the pocket and hit Lazard for another third-down conversion. Dillon then burst through the line for a big gain of 16 yards to cross the 50. Another 3rd-down catch by Lazard took the clock down to the two-minute warning with the Packers driving. Jones ripped off an 11-yard gain to get to the 20. A few plays later, however, Jones lost a yard on 3rd-and-3, but instead of sending Crosby out on the field, they kept the offense on the field.
Rodgers delivered, navigating the pocket and eventually finding — who else — Christian Watson for a 14-yard touchdown. The huge score brought Green Bay back within a touchdown at 16-10, and they would receive the opening kickoff of the second half.
Christian Watson's 7th TD in his last 4 games! @ChristianW2017— NFL (@NFL) December 4, 2022
: #GBvsCHI on FOX
: Stream on NFL+ https://t.co/P31SxnTZpJ pic.twitter.com/ttHy3zp6fr
Unfortunately, a double-up around halftime was not to be, as the referees made an appearance. On 2nd-and-3, AJ Dillon took a handoff and fell down, but was not touched and got up to seemingly pick up the first down. However, the officials thought he was touched by a Bears defender and ruled him down by contact short of the line to gain. Rodgers’ pass attempt on 3rd-and-1 went incomplete and the Packers had to punt away.
Thankfully, Green Bay got a three-and-out on defense on the Bears’ first series of the half, thanks to a false start by Chicago and a tackle for loss by Jaire Alexander on Claypool on third down. The Packers would punt right back, though, as a false start from Yosh Nijman, a pair of incompletions, and a short gain to Robert Tonyan on third-and-long yielded another Pat O’Donnell punt.
Joe Barry’s defense went on to allow a pair of third-and-long conversions on Chicago’s next series as the Bears drove deep into Packers territory. The run defense stiffened up in the red zone, however, forcing a 3rd-and-goal from the 24 after a tackle for loss and a stop for no gain. A 14-yard pass to Dante Pettis was not enough to find the end zone, and the Bears settled for a field goal to re-establish a two-possession lead.
Rodgers hit Watson for an early conversion on 3rd-and-7 to end the third quarter, then drew a 38-yard pass interference penalty with an underthrown ball to Watson up the left sideline to start the 4th. Two plays later, AJ Dillon burst through the left side of the line off a fake jet sweep to Watson, rumbling up the sideline and into the end zone for a 21-yard touchdown. Mason Crosby’s PAT pulled the Packers to back within two points at 19-17.
.@ajdillon7 takes it 21 yards for the score!#GBvsCHI | #ProBowlVote | #GoPackGo— Green Bay Packers (@packers) December 4, 2022
Needing a quick stop, the Packers’ defense instead gave up another huge play to the Bears on their next snap. Fields lofted a deep ball to N’Keal Harry over Alexander for a big 49-yard gain, flipping the field immediately. The defense got the stop three plays later, however, stuffing Montgomery for no gain on 3rd-and-5. The Packers’ special teams finally made a play on Santos’ field goal attempt, as Dean Lowry got his hand on the kick to keep the margin at two points.
Rodgers dinked and dunked his way down the field with a chance to take the lead, hitting Lazard and Dillon underneath for first downs to cross midfield. A short catch by Samori Toure set up a 3rd-and-3 from the Bears’ 25, but Dillon plunged through to move the chains and keep the drive going. The Packers could not find the end zone, with Rodgers’ pass to Tonyan at the goal line going incomplete, but Crosby punched through a field goal from 32 yards away to give Green Bay its first lead of the game.
With just under five minutes to go, Joe Barry and the Packers’ defense needed to get a stop to preserve a win. After a kickoff return to the 30, the Bears picked up 15 yards on their first two plays to reach the 44, then picked up another 13 two plays later on a pass from Fields to Cole Kmet. Finally, Alexander made his presence felt, jumping St. Brown’s route and intercepting Fields to give the Packers’ defense their second turnover of the day.
Needing to run three minutes off the clock, Rodgers started with a 20-yard pass to Watson over the middle of the field, then got to the two-minute warning with a three-yard run from Dillon. On the first play out of the break, Rodgers handed off to Watson on a jet sweep around the left side, and he ran 46 yards untouched into the end zone for his second rushing touchdown of the year and his second score overall on the day. That put the Packers up 26-19, but sniffing blood in the water, Matt LaFleur went for a two-point conversion to make it a two-possession game. Rodgers found Marcedes Lewis wide open in the end zone to convert, bringing the score to 28-19.
Here’s Watson’s score:
You're not gonna catch @ChristianW2017!— Green Bay Packers (@packers) December 4, 2022
4️⃣6️⃣-yard TOUCHDOWN #GBvsCHI | #ProBowlVote | #GoPackGo
Facing a nine-point deficit, the Bears moved the ball quickly through the air, but the Packers defense delivered a final dagger with a minute left. Keisean Nixon intercepted Fields’ pass to Pettis, setting the Packers up to take a knee to run out the clock.
Both the Packers and Bears have byes in week 14. The Packers improved their record to 5-8 with the victory, keeping the possibility of a winning season alive for another two weeks. They will face the struggling Los Angeles Rams at Lambeau Field after the bye, meeting the Rams with an extra day of rest as the two teams play on Monday Night Football.