All of a sudden, a 10-win season doesn’t seem so far-fetched for the ‘10 Bears.
Thanks to 17 Packer penalties, the return of the Windy City Flyer and a late forced turnover by the Bears dynamic linebacking duo, Chicago beat Green Bay 20-17. The victory leaves the Bears as the only undefeated team left in the NFC.
The much-hyped Aaron Rodgers vs. Jay Cutler showdown had its moments – Rodgers threw for 316 and TD and (hail mary INT); Cutler 221 yards with a TD and INT. But defense and special teams proved to be the difference for the Bears.
After the Pack jumped out to a 10-0 lead on a 7-yard Rodgers-to-Jennings TD pass and a 38-yard Mason Crosby field goal, the Bears offense responded. But like last week, Jay Cutler had to dust off from some early sacks.
With :26 seconds left in the 1st half, Cutler hit Greg Olsen for a 9-yard TD pass that gave the Bears much-needed momentum entering halftime. But the Bears offense wouldn’t get an opportunity to maintain that momentum as Rodgers orchestrated an 8.5 minute drive to start the 2nd half that ended…in a blocked field goal by Julius Peppers.
Peppers managed to dominate the game defensively despite not recording a sack. In addition to the blocked field goal, he forced Packers tackle tandem of Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher into countless false starts and holding penalties, one of which wiped out a Rodgers-to-Jermichael Finley touchdown pass.
But Peppers wasn’t the only X-factor for the Bears. Devin Hester returned a punt 62 yards for a touchdown early in the 4th quarter to give the Bears a short-lived 14-10 lead. Whether it was planned or an emotional improvisation, Hester lept into the endzone with fans. ESPN announcer Mike Tirico appropriately referred to it as the “Bears Bounce.” It was Hester’s first TD return since 2007.
The Packers reclaimed the lead with a 3-yard TD run by Aaron Rodgers. But Cutler led a 7-play, 67-yard drive that ended in a gimme 25-yard Robbie Gould field goal to tie the score at 17-17.
In a game destined for a replay on NFL Network this week, the Packers threatened the Bears at midfield as the 2:00 warning approached. That’s when the Bears dynamic LB duo of Briggs and Urlacher changed the fortunes in Chicago’s favor.
Rodgers hit WR James Jones with a sideline pass. Urlacher and Briggs tracked Jones down, knocking the ball out of his hands. Only feet from the sidelines, the ball dropped straight down, staying in bounds just long enough for backup CB Tim Jennings to make a diving recovery.
The Bears started their game-winning drive with just over 2 minutes remaining. Aided by a completion to Olsen on 3rd and long and a pass interference on Packers’ rookie safety Morgan Burnett, the Bears moved inside the 10 yardline with a minute to go.
After 3 runs got the Bears to the Packers 1, Chicago let the clock run down to 8 seconds. The gimme 19-yard field goal by Gould on 4th down secured the Bears fate as the last undefeated team in the NFC.
Another primetime game awaits vs. the Giants on Sunday night in New York. But for at least a day, the Bears, the city of Chicago and Grabowskis across the nation get to enjoy a big win over a bitter rival!