Why do the Packers own the Bears?
CHICAGO—After the Packers’ 38-17 victory against the Bears, Green Bay has now won eight of the last nine and 10 of the last 12 in the hallowed NFL rivalry.
Green Bay hasn’t lost in Soldier Field since 2010.
“I don’t know if there’s something here in the water or what,” Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb told NFP.
The likely reason for the Packers’ success against the Bears is more directly football related: far superior quarterback play.
The Packers have been led by Aaron Rodgers — perhaps the best quarterback in the game — while the Bears have been quarterbacked by Jay Cutler, whose decision-making often belies his considerable talent.
The discrepancy was never more on display than during this Week 4 contest. With both squads featuring questionable defenses, it was poised to be a shootout.
And indeed — for only the second time in NFL regular-season history — neither team punted.
But Rodgers, who is 11-3 as a starting quarterback against the Bears, was at his gun-slinging best.
The Packers scored on six consecutive drives, and he dissected Chicago’s one-high zone defense, completing 22 of 28 passes for 302 yards and four touchdowns for a near-perfect QB rating of 151.2.
“He had our offense in full control,” Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson said. “He made some great throws.”
Rodgers completed a season-high 78.6 percent of his passes against the Bears on Sunday.
His accuracy was incredibly precise, but Rodgers’ most impressive play may have occurred on one that didn’t count.
As defensive lineman Lamarr Houston drilled the quarterback — torquing him in an awkward position that surprisingly did not result in serious injury — Rodgers threw a 34-yard touchdown pass to Davante Adams.
A hold on center Corey Linsley nullified the play, but it showed Rodgers’ ability to make anything happen.
While Rodgers’ play left one wondering, How did he do that? Cutler too often left observers pondering, Why did he do that?
His 22-of-34, 256-yard day, in which he was relieved by Jimmy Clausen, included two interceptions.
With 1:48 left in the third quarter, a Cutler pass was picked off by cornerback Sam Shields, returned 62 yards and pretty much sealed the Packers victory.
The throw — the second interception of the day — was meant for Brandon Marshall on a hook route, but it was so errant that it looked like it was intended for Shields, who said he was “kind of shocked” it so easily came his way.
But the interceptions weren’t Cutler’s only poor decisions.
With nine seconds left in the first half, the ball on the Packers nine and no timeouts left, the Bears ran four vertical routes, and Cutler threw short of the goal line and to the middle of the field to tight end Martellus Bennett.
As a result, the half ended, the Bears didn’t score a touchdown and lacked time for a field goal attempt.
With the way the Packers dominated the rest of the game, it may not have mattered in the end, but at the time, points were at a premium. And with a chip-shot field goal, the Bears would have only trailed by one point going into the second half.
Instead Chicago faced an uphill climb in the second, started pressing and forced throws. That played right into the hands of an opportunistic, though porous, Packers defense.
“When you can play with a lead like we did,” Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk said. “(They) have to start moving the ball down the field to catch up.”
Hawk, who has played in Soldier Field nine times, relishes playing in Chicago.
“It’s fun to be a part of a game like this. We know how much goes into the games and the history and the tradition,” Hawk said. “As a fan of football, I have a ton of respect for the old guys like Dick Butkus, who was here today.”
Chicago also used to be the home for Packers defender Julius Peppers, who played four seasons with the Bears.
When Peppers assisted on a first-quarter tackle and his name was announced over the PA system, the Soldier Field crowd booed.
“I heard it,” Peppers said. “I don’t care about that, man. What do you expect?”
Such bad blood is nothing new to the rivalry, which has been played an NFL-record 189 times. (The Cardinals-Bears is technically the oldest matchup, dating back to 1920.)
Though the Bears lead the overall series 93-90-6 against the Packers, they have suffered similar losing stretches to the current one, including losing nine of 10 from 1994 to 1998 and seven of eight from 2000 to 2003.
During those skids the Packers were led by one future Hall of Famer — Brett Favre — while the Bears started a total of eight different quarterbacks.
Favre’s successor — Rodgers — is bound for the Hall of Fame as well, and his quarterback play continues to give Green Bay the edge in the modern series, which was never more apparent than on Sunday in Soldier Field.
“A great rivalry that has been around longer than most of us have been alive,” Rodgers said, “it’s an honor to play here and it is fun when they go like this.”
Follow Jeff on Twitter: @jfedotin
Jeff Fedotin has written for Packers.com, Pro Football Weekly, ESPN The Magazine, the Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World and Rivals.com. After graduating from Northwestern University, he interned for the Buffalo Bills. During his football playing days at Pembroke Hill (Mo.) School, Fedotin was known for his bad knees and even worse blocking.