CHICAGO (AP) — The way this one began, Ryan Grant and the Green Bay Packers looked as though they might run away with their fifth straight win. Instead, they had to fight for it.
Grant ran for 137 yards and two touchdowns, and the Packers beat the Chicago Bears 21-14 Sunday after letting their lead slip away.
Grant broke off a season-long 62-yard touchdown on the Packers’ first play from scrimmage and scored the go-ahead TD in the fourth quarter after Nick Collins intercepted Jay Cutler.
Aaron Rodgers threw for 180 yards, Jermichael Finley caught five passes for 70, and Charles Woodson added his 44th career interception for the Packers (9-4), who have won five straight.
The Bears (5-8) lost for the seventh time in nine games and were eliminated from the playoff picture, according to STATS LLC. That makes it three straight postseason misses since the 2006 team’s Super Bowl run.
Optimism soared after the big trade with Denver for Cutler, but the Bears plummeted after a 3-1 start.
Tied for the league lead entering the game, Cutler now has 22 interceptions after getting picked off twice. He did throw for 209 yards and two touchdowns even though Devin Hester missed the game with a calf injury, but it’s hard to win when a team racks up 13 penalties for 109 yards.
It’s not easy, either, when it runs for just 59 yards and averages 3.5 per carry, as the Bears did.
Cutler, who had four interceptions in a season-opening loss at Green Bay, committed a costly turnover with a 14-13 lead early in the fourth quarter. Collins picked off a pass to Johnny Knox and returned it 32 yards to the Chicago 11, setting up a 1-yard scoring run by Grant. Rodgers hit Jennings for the 2-point conversion, making it 21-14 with 12:39 left in the game, and the Packers completed the season sweep.
Grant got things off to a good start when he broke off that touchdown run, but they settled for two field goals after stalling deep in Chicago territory while building a 13-7 halftime lead. That quickly disappeared after Rodgers fumbled the ball away as he dropped back to pass at the Chicago 29 on the first drive of the third quarter.
He first caught the ball after it popped loose and tried to throw again, but it popped out. Anthony Adams recovered it, the Bears took over at their 44, and Devin Aromashodu spun for a 10-yard TD reception with Woodson draped on him to give Chicago a 14-13 lead with 9:35 left in the third — a surprising turn given the way this one started.
Grant broke through a hole on the left side on the Packers’ first play from scrimmage and ran a season-long 62 yards untouched into the end zone for a 7-0 lead, and the Packers wasted little time adding to it.
Greg Jennings just missed a 36-yard touchdown on the next possession, dropping a pass in the end zone after he beat Charles Tillman. No problem: The Packers got to the 10 before Mason Crosby kicked a 33-yard field goal, and Woodson immediately picked off Cutler on a badly underthrown pass near midfield, leading to another field goal early in the second quarter.
Cutler finally gave the restless crowd something to cheer when he found Knox on the right side of the end zone with a 19-yarder that that made it 13-7 with 1:48 remaining in the half, capping an 80-yard drive. Earl Bennett had just been ruled out of bounds after making a catch in the back of the end zone when Knox beat Tramon Williams and Atari Bigby came over too late.