If Green Bay fans weren’t biting their nails during this one, they were outside wearing mittens. The Packers gave their fans every reason to scream disparagements during the first three quarters of Sunday’s game at Soldier Field, but, in the end, this game will be remembered by Packer fans as one of the great 4th quarter comebacks in Packer-Bear history. Aaron Rodgers on the sideline firing up his offensive line set a tone for the team that rallied Green Bay to a win that for three quarters they did not deserve. This 4th quarter comeback and Chicago meltdown likely crushed Bears fans who were seeing blood after last week’s Packer loss to the Eagles. But Bear fans left Soldier Field broken with Packer fan chants of, “Go Pack Go!” in their ears and a smug Aaron Rodgers as the Ghost of Christmas Past and Present in their holiday nightmares.
The Packers were down two scores three different times in the game. In the first quarter, they were down 10-0. In the second they were down 16-3. As the third quarter was winding down, the Packers were down 19-10. The comeback required special plays from the offense, defense and special teams. The team shrugged off some early poor play to make turnovers, stops and touchdowns with the game on the line. The offense, defense and special teams played with urgency in the second half. It led to 18 unanswered fourth quarter points. Christian Watson was the hero with two touchdowns on three catches and one incredible run. A.J. Dillion had to take more snaps with Aaron Jones nursing a shin injury and Quadzilla impressed. Eighteen runs for 93 yards and three catches for 26 more showed the tools he posses when given an opportunity. The Bears were so focused on trying to stop Dillon that Rodgers fake to him pulled the defense away, allowing Watson to play the hero.
If you recorded the game, Packer fans might be tempted to skip to the 4th quarter but you would miss the agony that made this victory so sweet. The Packer defense looked shaky from the opening snap. After being throttled by the Eagles running quarterback, the defense looked like it had learned nothing from the Philly beat down. The Bears marched 53 yards in 11 plays settling for a field goal that felt like a relief to Packer fans. The Bears converted two third and one plays for first downs, also giving up runs of 8 and 3 yards to RB Montgomery and 9 and 6 yards to QB Fields. After the Bears field goal, the Packers punted after a curious run call on third and 12 failed to convert. The Bears then took advantage of Quay Walker, who got lost in diagnosing the Bears motion and left Justin Fields a running lane for a 55 yard touchdown run. Keisean Nixon missed a tackle attempt on the play, but Walker’s failed reaction was the key to the long gain.
The Green Bay offense then showed some life on a 13 play drive that stalled on the Bear six yard line. Crosby’s kick put three on the board for the Packers. Next, a possible turning point for the Packers, a forced fumble recovery by Rudy Ford, was wasted by the offense. They gave the ball back on downs after five plays. The Bears then broke the game open when Jaire Alexander was beaten deep by Equanimeous St. Brown, followed up by a run to daylight by Montgomery. That Bear’s score made it 16-3. The 23rd ranked NFL offense was rolling the Packer defense and the Green Bay offense looked suspect. Give the defense credit for never letting the score get to more than 13 while the offense struggled. The defense made enough plays to hold the Bears to 3 points in the second half after giving up big plays in both the run and the pass. Their three takeaways turned the game and helped Bears fans to the worst taste their mouths could swallow: another Rodgers led win over the home team.
Rodgers and the offense rallied with their backs against the wall on a 13 play drive as the half wound down. A.J. Dillon and Aaron Jones combined on seven touches (6 run/1pass) for 44 of the seventy five yard drive. The highlight was Christian Watson’s 14 yard touchdown grab on 4th down. That closed the score to 16-10 Bears at halftime. LaFleur deserves credit for going for the touchdown on fourth and four. Many coaches would have taken three points and hoped for better results in the second half. The pass to Watson was perfect from Rodgers and Watson made a nice adjustment to get a step on his defender, then covered up, taking a hit while securing the catch.
Any Packer momentum was extinguished by the offense going three and out to start the third quarter and Innis Gaines’ 15-yard penalty on the subsequent punt when the Bear returner had signaled a fair catch. Chicago started their drive on the 42 yard line. But Alexander came up big on 3rd down, stuffing the Bears run, forcing a punt.
Again, the offense sputtered. A penalty. A dropped pass. A pass thrown short of Josiah Deguara. When Chicago got the ball back, they went back to the run and found success and a first down. When the Packers stopped the run, Fields found K’Neal Harry for a first down. Time and again the Packers had the Bears in third and long or second and more than 10, only to give up a big play. The defense finally rallied after Chicago was flagged for a hold and was able to settle for a field goal giving the Bears the 19-10 edge.
As the 4th quarter started, the Packers offense got going thanks to two huge pass interference penalties on Chicago. The drive was capped off by a 21 yard touchdown run by A.J Dillon. The score was 19-17 and the Bears defense was looking tired. That’s when Jaire Alexander picked a bad time to gamble, getting burned on a bomb from Fields to K’Neal Harry. This type of letdown has happened so many times in the Packer losses in 2022 that many fans were anticipating the worst. But the Packers defense made a stand, culminating with a block of the Chicago field goal.
The offense then made a valiant attempt to score a touchdown before settling for a field goal and a one point 20-19 lead. Fair to bet that Packer fans who felt confident with that one point lead and 4:49 to play were few and far between. Chicago rushed the ball and gained two good chunks of eight and five yards. Then Justin Fields tried to pick on Alexander for a third time. His first two attempts struck gold for the Bears; two receptions for 105 yards that led to one touchdown. But Field’s 4th quarter pass turned into the charm for the Packers as Alexander made the interception. Christian Watson then blew the game open with a 46 yard end around touchdown dash. The 19-10 Bears lead had swung to 28-19 Packers in just over ten minutes.
The Bears last second attempt to avert this disaster of a melt down would end in another interception of Fields by Nixon at the Green Bay 25 to seal the game. This win gives the Packers the most wins of any franchise in NFL history. Beating the Bears is always reason to celebrate, but taking that historic title is a reason to be thankful you cheer for the Green and Gold. Enjoy the bye week everyone.