The Packers staved off a 17-point fourth quarter comeback, and a 60-yard bomb to Jordy Nelson with 30 seconds left set up a game winning field goal as time expired to lift Green Bay to a 30-27 road victory.
Plagued by drops, the passing attack was kept largely in check until Aaron Rodgers found Nelson deep on third and 11. The offensive success for most of the game instead fell on the shoulders of the running game. Ty Montgomery solidified his position as a true running back with 162 yards and a pair of touchdowns, and the team combined for 226 rushing yards on an astounding 9.8 yards per carry.
The frigid temperatures slowed but couldn’t stop a red hot Green Bay team, who won their fourth straight game to improve to 8-6 overall. Losses by the Vikings and Lions vaulted the Packers to second place in the NFC North and, most importantly, Green Bay now controls its own path to a division title.
The Packers had chances to put the game away early, but failed to capitalize. After finding the end zone on the opening drive, Green Bay failed to convert a short fourth down deep in Chicago territory and was limited to two field goals after Davante Adams dropped easy touchdowns on consecutive drives.
Then the defense started giving the Packers chances, and the team was able to take advantage. The Bears turned the ball over on four consecutive drives—an intercepted Hail Mary to end the first half, a strip sack by Julius Peppers to open the third quarter, and two Ha Ha Clinton-Dix interceptions—which the Packers turned into a 27-10 advantage.
Green Bay looked like it was about to collapse in the fourth quarter, surrendering 17 unanswered points to allow the Bears to come all the way back and tie the game at 27 with just over a minute left. Then on third and 11, Rodgers hit Nelson 60 yards downfield, got to the line to spike the ball, and watched Mason Crosby connect on the game winning kick.
While the Packers emerged victorious, the weather definitely impacted the passing game. Aaron Rodgers failed to throw a touchdown for the first time all season and was noticeably slowed due to calf and hamstring injuries. He finished the day with 252 passing yards, and his lack of mobility led to four sacks.
With the passing attack hampered, the ground game definitely picked up the slack. Montgomery did the bulk of the heavy lifting, posting career highs with 16 carries, 162 yards, two touchdowns, and a long run of 61. Christine Michael got into the action late in the third quarter with a 42-yard touchdown.
Nelson ended the game with 124 yards, but had two drops on deep balls that he normally secures. Adams, who had been stellar to this point in the season, had a rare poor performance as he dropped two perfect throws in the end zone.
Matt Barkley threw for 362 yards and two touchdowns, but also committed the four turnovers. Jordan Howard continued his impressive rookie campaign with 113 all purpose yards and a touchdown. Deonte Thompson and Cameron Meredith each topped the century mark to lead Chicago’s receiving corps.
The Green Bay secondary continued to look lost at times, getting burned over the middle time and time again as the Bears started to rally. The takeaways proved to be the saving grace of Dom Capers’ unit, giving the Packers a +10 turnover margin over the past two weeks.
Despite the near-collapse, the team is still trending in the right direction as it continues its playoff push. The Packers now sit alone in second place in the NFC North, and wins in the next two weeks would give Green Bay another division title.
First up is a rematch with the Vikings, which will be the last regular season game at Lambeau Field of the 2016 season. A victory next week would set up yet another Week 17 matchup to decide the division winner.——————
Sean Blashe is a Packers fan who grew up in Bears territory and is currently a journalism and history major at Marquette University. Sean is a writer with PackersTalk.com and you can follow him on twitter at @SeanBlashe .