Bears lose to rival Packers in season-finale
Mark Hoffman - USA Today Sports

Bears lose to rival Packers in season-finale


by - Senior Writer -

GREEN BAY - At this point, it is becoming comical as to what the Green Bay Packers (9-8) can do to the Chicago Bears (7-10). After all of the talk about Aaron Rodgers owning the Bears and seeing Brett Favre and Rodgers dominate this team for three decades, many folks on the outside thought things could be changing in 2023.

With Jordan Love talking over for Rodgers prior to the season, Green Bay had a lot of questions that needed to be answered, with the biggest one being whether or not Love was the answer. After defeating the Bears in week one, Chicago had a chance to return the favor at Lambeau Field on Sunday, as a win for Chicago would eliminate the Packers from the playoffs.

Talk about all of the motivation a team needs, as this Bears team is vastly different from the one that the Packers faced in week one. The same can be said about Jordan Love, and behind his 316-yard, two touchdown, it was more of the same as Matt LaFleur improves to 10-0 against the Bears with a 17-9 victory. Losing to the Packers is never a good thing, but at least Chicago showed more fight in this one than in week one and came out on fire to start the game.

After Velus Jones put together a nice return to set the offense up at the 33, Justin Fields got things rolling as he used his legs for an early first down. That was followed by first down receptions by DJ Moore (64 yards) and Equanimeous St. Brown as the Bears were driving into Packers territory. Fields finished the game with 148 yards passing and 27 yards rushing, but one of his most significant issues was taking sacks on third down, which ended the opening drive, resulting in a 41-yard Cairo Santos field goal and an early 3-0 lead.

Not to be outdone, Love and the Packers responded with a nice drive of their own as the legs of Aaron Jones got the Packers' offense rolling with three first downs. After being injured for a large chunk of the season, Jones appears to be 100% healthy, and with 111 yards, he will finish the season with three consecutive games. Dontayvion Wicks had a massive first down earlier in the drive, but it was the dropped touchdown from Romeo Doubs that kept the Packers off the board and forced them to settle for a field goal, but with Anders Carleson missing the kick, the Bears maintained their 3-0 lead.

Looking to strike for another score, Tyler Scott and Moore kept the ball moving, but once again, it was a costly third-down sack that killed a drive as the Bears were unable to capitalize on the missed field goal. At that moment, the Packers woke up with Jayden Reed coming away with one of his four catches as he finished with 112 yards on the day. A couple more first downs from Bo Melton and Jones moved the ball inside the red zone, where Love found Wicks for the touchdown to put the Packers up 7-3.

Green Bay would never trail from that moment on as the Bears found ways to move the ball, but couldn't find the endzone. Even with Fields converting on a fourth and short of extending another drive before finding Moore for 33 of his 64 yards, Kenny Clark came through with another third-down sack as Santos knocked home another field goal to cut the deficit to 7-6. Green Bay had a chance to add on before the half, but with Tucker Kraft unable to get out of bounds, the clock ran out, with the Bears trailing by one.

Happy to be in their position, Chicago knew it would be up to their defense to take over as the Packers offense got the ball first. Led by another first down completion from Melton, the Packers' passing game continued to move the ball, which set things up for Jones and the running game. Ultimately, the arm of Love made the difference yet again as he found Wicks for the four-yard score to extend the lead to 14-6.

Following a Bears punt, the Packers offense was at its yet again, with Melton coming away with another first down completion to move the ball close to midfield. That is when momentum started to shift in the Bears favor as Love tried to rush for the first down only to have Tyrique Stevenson knock the ball free and Jaquon Brisker recover it to give the Bears excellent field position.

Needing a point in a hurry, the Bears started the fourth quarter with an 11-yard hookup to Moore before Fields found Cole Kmet for 27 yards to bring the ball inside the 20-yard line. Fields and Kmet appeared to hook up for a touchdown a few plays later, but once again the Packers defense came up huge and forced another Santos field goal to pull Chicago within 14-9.

Still, in this game, the Bears defense was looking for another stop, but allowing Reed to get free for 59 yards didn't help the cause. Fortunately, the Bears defense recovered and held the Packers to a field goal to put Green Bay in front 17-9 with under 11 minutes to go. Knowing they would only get a few more opportunities to score points, the Bears knew it would be now or never if they wanted to score a touchdown.

Having Khalil Herbert break free for a 16-yard reception was a good start, as the Packers held him to just 28 yards rushing in the game. Green Bay would then commit a costly third-down penalty to gift the Bears another first down, but once again, it was a crucial sack by the Packer's defense that killed a drive and forced the Bears to punt it away.

That would be the last time the Bears would touch the ball as the Packers used a 12-play, 81-yard drive to kill the clock and put themselves into the postseason with the 17-9 victory.

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