Rodgers, Finley Lead Packers Past Bears 27-17
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CHICAGO (CBS) — Fans left Soldier Field disappointed Sunday, as the Packers shut down Jay Cutler and the Bears 27-17 Sunday.
The Packers’ Rodgers threw for 297 yards, including three touchdown passes to Jermichael Finley.
The stakes weren’t as high as the previous meeting, when the Packers left Chicago’s home field celebrating the NFC title on the way to the championship. Even so, they gave the Bears (1-2) more headaches in the NFL’s longest-running series.
Rodgers led the charge, completing 28 of 38 passes. He threw his first interception of the season, when Brian Urlacher picked him off with the Packers leading 27-17 in the fourth quarter.
The Bears took over at their 45, but two penalties – holding by Chris Spencer and unnecessary roughness on Devin Hester for a confrontation with Sam Shields – ended any shot at a comeback.
Rodgers hit Finley with a 6-yard TD on the game’s opening drive, a 7-yarder early in the second quarter that made it 14-0, and a 10-yarder that gave the Packers (3-0) a commanding 27-10 lead early in the fourth.
Greg Jennings caught nine passes for 119 yards, while Finley finished with seven receptions and 85 yards. Ryan Grant ran for 92, and Morgan Burnett intercepted Cutler twice on passes intended for Roy Williams to help the Packers remain unbeaten.
Even so, Rodgers said they’re still not quite “clicking.” He sees more balance between the run and pass, but he still sees room to improve on offense, defense and special teams.
“I think we have the potential to get better, and I don’t know how many wins that means or the playoffs or whatever, but I just think we can play better football,” he said. “The standard we’ve set around Green Bay is excellence, so until we’re at that point, there’s going to be a lot of hard work during the week.”
He’ll get know argument from Jennings.
“We have things to work on and we’re still trying to steadily improve; we’re not satisfied by any means,” Jennings said.
For the Bears, it was simply a brutal performance.
Their quarterback struggled in a big way and the running game was nonexistent again as Chicago dropped its second straight after an impressive win over Atlanta.
The Bears managed just 13 yards rushing. And with 12 attempts, they matched their second fewest for the second straight game.
Against New Orleans last week, they called 52 pass plays and handed off 11 times, with a scramble by Cutler bringing the total to 12.
Coach Lovie Smith credited Green Bay’s defense and said, “If you don’t get your running game going, you have to look at what the other side of the ball did.”
Clearly, though, the Bears have some work to do.
“That means they probably have to work on that for next week because it didn’t work today,” Green Bay’s B.J. Raji said. “But on a more serious note, we’ve played good backs this whole season, I know there is emphasis in the media on (Matt) Forte getting the ball, but we knew if took care of business he wouldn’t be a factor.”
For Forte, “it’s frustrating.” He had just 2 yards on nine runs – or less than a quarter of a yard per attempt.
Things were so bad against Green Bay that fans cheered sarcastically when he gained 3 yards early in the third period. But it wasn’t like the quarterback was lighting things up, either.
Cutler was 21 of 37 with two touchdowns and two interceptions and threw six straight incompletions to start the second half against a defense that allowed Drew Brees and Cam Newton to throw for more than 400. Worse, the Packers were without Pro Bowl safety Nick Collins, who suffered a season-ending neck injury the previous week.
Even so, Cutler couldn’t take advantage.
About the only good news for him was he stayed healthy after spending most of the second half of that NFC title game on the sideline with a knee injury – while current and former players questioned his toughness on Twitter.
While Cutler struggled, it wasn’t a good game either for Williams. He was targeted four times and did not catch a pass after sitting out a game with a groin injury.
It was a better day for Johnny Knox, who caught four passes for 84 yards, but the Packers clearly controlled this one.
“Lot of miscues,” Cutler said. “There were spurts of good football, just inconsistent, and against a team like that you are never going to beat them.”
Notes: Packers OT Bryan Bulaga left with a bruised left knee early in the game and did not return. … Chicago’s franchise low for yards rushing in a game is 1 at the Los Angeles Rams on Oct. 26, 1952. The Bears’ record for fewest attempts is 11 – at Minnesota in 2009 and Philadelphia in 1994.
(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS Radio and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)