Packers survive wild second quarter, dominate after half in 45-30 win over Bears


Green Bay Packers cornerback Rasul Douglas (29) reacts after his interception for a touchdown during an NFL football game against the Chicago Bears Sunday, Dec 12. 2021, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – In the illustrious history of the Packers-Bears rivalry, there had never been a 15-minute span like the second quarter of Sunday night’s game.

Fortunately for Green Bay, however, the second half followed a much more familiar script: sheer Packers dominance.

Green Bay won its sixth straight against Chicago and moved one win away from its third consecutive NFC North title, overcoming a slew of miscues in the first half to pull away for a 45-30 victory, much to the delight of 78,273 fans at Lambeau Field Sunday night.

It was the 400th Packer game at Lambeau Field and Aaron Rodgers’ 100th home regular season start. But in the 204th all-time meeting between the Packers and Bears, the Sunday Night Football spotlight provided one of the wildest games in rivalry history – and finished tied for the most combined points ever in this matchup’s illustrious record book.

Chicago threw the first punches, taking a 3-0 lead into the second quarter and extending to 10-0 on a 43-yard touchdown by Jakeem Grant. The Bears receiver motioned from Justin Fields’ right side and took a touch pass from the rookie quarterback all the way down the left sideline, outrunning the Packers defense in the process.

Green Bay wasn’t reeling for long. On the ensuing drive, Rodgers led an 11-play, 75-yard drive featuring eight passes – including the capper: a two-yard slant to Allen Lazard on fourth and goal for a touchdown.

The very next Bears possession, Fields and the offense weren’t able to hold the ball for long. On third and 3, Rasul Douglas stepped in front of a route and raced 55 yards for a pick six, his second in as many games.

Douglas, a midseason pickup from Arizona’s practice squad, became the first Packer to snag pick sixes in back-to-back games since Herb Adderley in 1965. Douglas now leads the team with three interceptions on the year.

Needing a response, Chicago settled into a shootout. Three plays into the next drive, Fields hit Demiere Byrd on a short slant and the receiver did the rest, racing 54 yards to snatch the 17-14 lead back for the visitors.

With 3:21 left in the half, Green Bay marched to midfield, looking to take the lead before the break. But after Corey Bojorquez dropped a punt inside the five-yard line, Grant evaded defenders and raced 97 yards past the coverage for a touchdown.

It was the first punt return touchdown in the NFL this season.

Trailing 24-14 with 1:32 left in the second quarter, Rodgers executed a flawless quick-strike drive, needing just four plays to find Davante Adams for a 38-yard touchdown.

Chicago tacked on a field goal to take a 27-21 lead into the locker room at halftime. The 45 combined points in the second quarter marked not only the highest-scoring quarter in Packers-Bears rivalry history, but also qualified for the most points in an NFL quarter since 2012.

After halftime, though, the Pack settled in quickly.

Receiving the opening kickoff, Green Bay marched 75 yards in nine plays, finishing off the drive with a three-yard rushing touchdown by Aaron Jones.

Just two snaps later, the Packer defense came up with another critical turnover. Preston Smith converged from Fields’ blind side, forcing the ball out and directly into a Rashan Gary recovery. On the very next play, Rodgers wasted no time finding Jones for his second touchdown of the quarter – this one on a 23-yard play action pass.

With the offense seizing momentum, the defense capitalized again. Green Bay forced a three-and-out and added another field goal, extending to a 38-27 lead entering the fourth quarter and completing a 17-0 shutout in the third.

The teams traded unproductive drives until an eventful Bears punt less than two minutes into the fourth quarter.

Attempting to field a 46-yard punt inside his own 20, Green Bay’s Amari Rodgers muffed the catch, with Chicago’s Damien Williams recovering in the Packers red zone. But officials ruled that Kindle Vildor ran out of bounds on the play, negating the recovery.

The Packers took that break and ran with it, embarking on season-long drive spanning 8:38 and covering 71 yards in 13 plays. On first and goal, Rodgers found Adams again – this time locking on his receiver from the jump and watching Adams outclass Chicago’s Jaylon Johnson on the break.

With a 45-27 lead, the Packers had the result all but in hand.

Even so, Chicago wasn’t done. Fields led a 10-play, 54-yard drive to a field goal, bringing the margin back to two scores. The Bears recovered an onside kick on the ensuing play, underscoring a colossal mess of a special teams performance by the Pack.

But needing one last stop, the defense came through, with Chandon Sullivan intercepting Fields off a tip for the game-sealing pick and a 45-30 win.

It was another all-time performance for Aaron Rodgers against the rival Bears. The reigning MVP threw for 341 yards and four touchdowns, continuing his “ownership” of the Chicago franchise. Rodgers improved to 22-5 in his career against the Bears.

Even with a masterful offensive output, the result was in jeopardy largely due to massive special teams gaffes.

Chicago racked up more than 250 return yards in the game, with 97 coming on Grant’s punt return touchdown. Khalil Herbert averaged 25.8 yards per kick return, giving the Bears an enormous boost with field position.

And on top of it all, Green Bay failed to recover an onside kick and nearly coughed up possession on a muffed punt.

It was the headliner in a season of Packers miscues on special teams, coming close to squandering another standout performance by the offensive and defensive units.

The Packers forced three turnovers, didn’t forfeit possession, and held the Bears without a red zone touchdown. The offense racked up 439 total yards in the effort.

If Green Bay is to pursue its Super Bowl dreams, all three phases will need to be on point for the impending playoff run.

The Packers improved to 10-3 on the season and retained the No. 2 seed in the NFC. Green Bay can clinch the NFC North with a win or a Vikings loss next week.

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