The Bears held a 19-10 fourth quarter lead Sunday at Soldier Field, but allowed 18 unanswered points in the final period en route to a disappointing 28-19 loss to the Packers.
The Bears started strong on both sides of the ball as the offense scored on its first two drives while the defense kept the Packers off the scoreboard through the first 20 minutes. But after kicker Cairo Santos' 28-yard field goal late in the third quarter, the Bears were held scoreless for the remainder of the game. While the offense had another late-game opportunity, down 20-19 with under five minutes to play, quarterback Justin Fields was picked off in Green Bay territory.
"I think it's great that we're in the opportunity to be able to do that," coach Matt Eberflus said of late-game situations. "We made a couple nice plays to get down there, we've just got to do a better job finishing. It really comes down to execution. I thought the play calling was good, I thought everything was good. The operation was good. We were on the ball. I thought the tempo of it was nice. The rhythm of it was better than it's been. So I thought the operation was a good part."
Green Bay's offense exploded in the fourth quarter, recording 143 yards, including touchdown runs of 46 yards by receiver Christian Watson and 21 yards by running back AJ Dillon.
Fields, who returned after missing last Sunday's game against the Jets with a left shoulder injury, completed 20 of his 25 pass attempts for a season-high 254 yards but threw two interceptions, both late in the fourth quarter. The second-year pro rushed for 71 yards on six carries, including a spectacular 55-yard touchdown run. Fields now has six straight games of at least 50 rushing yards and at least one touchdown, the longest single-season streak in team history since Hall of Fame running back Gale Sayers in 1969.
"I think the O-line did a great job protecting," Fields said. "I think the run game was solid and I think the passing game took a big step today. I just felt comfortable out there, going through progressions and stuff like that. And again, like I said, the O-line did a great job in pass [protection]."
Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers finished the day with 18 completions on 31 attempts for 182 yards and a touchdown. The Packers also totaled 175 rushing yards as Dillon led the way with 18 carries for 93 yards and a score.
The Bears (3-10) have now lost six straight games and nine of their last 10 contests. The Packers improved to 5-8 with the win.
The Bears took a 3-0 lead on their opening drive with a 40-yard field goal by Santos. Fields' 24-yard completion down the right side to receiver Equanimeous St. Brown brought the Bears into Packers territory at the 39. On third-and-1, Fields kept the drive alive with a successful quarterback keeper but could only scramble for six yards on the following third-and-9.
Fields then exploded for a 55-yard touchdown run, putting the Bears up 10-0 with three minutes left in the first quarter. On second-and-11 from the Chicago 45, Fields faked a handoff to running back David Montgomery, went right then cut back inside and shed a tackle before bursting through the middle as the Packers defense trailed behind. Fields also had a 10-yard completion to tight end Cole Kmet on third-and-5 which kept the drive alive.
A 24-yard field goal by Green Bay kicker Mason Crosby cut the Bears' lead to 10-3 with 10:22 to play in the first half. On the second play of the drive, Rodgers and receiver Allen Lazard connected over the middle for a 20-yard gain to the Chicago 35. Running backs Dillon and Aaron Jones accounted for the next eight plays, reaching the 12. Then on third-and-5, the Bears secondary had strong coverage, forcing Rodgers to throw the ball away, leading to the field goal attempt.
While the Bears looked to be driving downfield again on their next possession as Fields completed a 17-yard pass to receiver Chase Claypool, cornerback Rasul Douglas forced the ball out at the Green Bay 37. Safety Rudy Ford recovered the fumble at the 35 and returned it five yards to the 40. Claypool was hurt on the play, limping off the field after grabbing his right knee, but would return to the game. The Bears defense held strong, however, forcing a turnover on downs as Rodgers' pass intended for receiver Randall Cobb in the end zone fell incomplete on fourth-and-8.
The Bears took over at their own 37 and took just two plays to find the end zone, giving the Bears a 16-3 lead after Santos missed the extra-point attempt. On first down, Fields hit St. Brown with a perfect deep ball for a 56-yard gain. Then from the 7, Fields handed the ball off to Montgomery, who muscled his way into the end zone for the score.
Rodgers threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Watson just before halftime to pull the Packers within 16-10. The Bears defense got a stop on third-and-3 as tackle Armon Watts stuffed Jones for a loss of one, but on fourth down, Rodgers dropped back and fired the ball to Watson, who beat safety Elijah Hicks in the end zone.
Santos made a 28-yard field goal to increase the Bears' lead to 19-10 with 1:50 remaining in the third quarter. The 12-play, 62-yard drive was fueled by Fields' 24-yard pass to Kmet down the left sideline on third-and-10. On third-and-7, running back Darrynton Evans broke free for a 21-yard gain, reaching the 9. But the Bears were pushed back to the 24 after Teven Jenkins was called for an holding penalty and Montgomery lost five yards on a carry. Fields completed a 14-yard pass to receiver Dante Pettis on third down, but the receiver was short of the first down marker, bringing Santos out.
A 21-yard touchdown run by Dillon cut the Packers' deficit down to 19-17 at the start of the fourth quarter. Cornerback Jaylon Jones was flagged for a 38-yard pass interference penalty on an incomplete pass intended for Watson down the left sideline earlier in the drive, bringing the Packers to the Chicago 26. On the next play, Rodgers threw another incompletion, but a holding penalty on cornerback Jaylon Johnson set up first-and-10 from the 21, leading to the score.
The Bears looked to extend their lead with a 40-yard field goal try, but defensive end Dean Lowry deflected Santos' kick and the Packers took over at their own 30. On the first play of the drive, Fields spun away from pressure, rolled left and fired a deep ball to receiver N'Keal Harry, who made an acrobatic grab at the Green Bay 28 for a 49-yard gain. The offense stalled on the next three plays, bringing out the field goal unit.
"Justin did a really good job of getting those shots," Eberflus said. "The one to EQ and then one to Harry. That was really good to see. I think it was a third-down play, I really want to say that was the most impressive play was when he found 85 on the sideline, Cole Kmet. Went out for his first, second read, kept his eyes downfield and threw it down there. So that was really good. But a lot of positive things from the offense from my standpoint and from our coaches' standpoint for sure."
With 4:49 to play, the Packers went up 20-19, their first lead of the day, as Crosby made a 32-yard field goal. Green Bay's 13-play, 56-yard drive was fueled by Dillon, who carried the ball three times for 16 yards and caught two passes for 14 yards.
The Bears were driving downfield with a chance to take the lead, but on first-and-10 from the Green Bay 43, cornerback Jaire Alexander intercepted Fields' pass intended for St. Brown at the 28 and returned it to the 32.
"Just a dig route, I think 23 made a great play on that play," Fields said. "EQ was underneath him, but at that point once you throw that ball, you anticipate the throw, then boom he jumped it. Really at that point, you'd just like to see the receiver come back to the ball. We always just try to tell the receivers that those DBs, they want that pick each and every time, so they're going to attack that ball. So yeah, that's just a timing throw, an anticipated throw and I think 23 just made a good play on that."
Green Bay took over with under three minutes to play and quickly extended their lead as Watson rushed for a 46-yard touchdown. The rookie receiver took the jet sweep and raced down the left sideline, fooling the Bears defense. The Packers then converted on the two-point try as Rodgers completed a pass to tight end Marcedes Lewis in the end zone to take a 28-19 lead.
The Packers defense then sealed the game as cornerback Keisean Nixon picked off Fields at the Green Bay 5 with under a minute left in the game on a pass intended for Pettis.
Check out the on-field action as the Bears and Packers renew the NFL's oldest rivalry Sunday at Soldier Field.