The inability to finish games—a problem that has plagued the Bears all season—reared its ugly head again Sunday in an excruciating 30-27 loss to the Packers at Soldier Field.
After rallying from a 27-10 fourth-quarter deficit to forge a 27-27 tie with 1:19 to play, the Bears inexplicably allowed Aaron Rodgers to heave a 60-yard bomb to Jordy Nelson in the waning seconds, setting up Mason Crosby's winning 32-yard field goal as time expired.
"We just didn't execute as well," said coach John Fox. "It was a pretty good ball by No. 12 and he can do that. They executed on that play better than we did. Our guys fought hard. We had an opportunity to win a game and we came up short. It's happened quite a few times here of late."
Nelson slipped past undrafted rookie cornerback Cre'von LeBlanc on the play. The long completion was reminiscent of Rodgers' 48-yard touchdown pass to Randall Cobb on fourth-and-eight with :38 remaining in the 2013 winner-take-all season finale at Soldier Field.
"It was just Aaron Rodgers buying time and a good throw and good catch," said cornerback Tracy Porter. "[Nelson] was able to run a post and run away from the corner. Cre'Von was in good position, being on top of the receiver in the coverage we were playing. He was doing what he was supposed to be doing. It's just that he had an entire field and Aaron was able to throw the ball away from him and Jordy just made an adjustment on the ball."
The long pass ruined a furious comeback by the Bears, who scored on three straight possessions to erase a 17-point deficit. Touchdowns on Matt Barkley's 8-yard pass to Alshon Jeffery early in the fourth quarter and Jordan Howard's 9-yard run with 7:34 to go closed the gap to 27-24.
After an inspired Bears defense forced a second straight three-and-out, the offense marched to the Green Bay 3. But a holding penalty on tight end Logan Paulsen stalled the drive and the Bears settled for Connor Barth's game-tying 32-yard field goal with 1:19 remaining.
View photos from the game as the Bears take on the Packers at Soldier Field in Chicago.
The Bears' comeback came after the Packers had scored 20 unanswered points to turn a 10-7 deficit into a 27-10 lead. Barkley committed turnovers on four straight possessions, beginning with an interception on a Hail Mary pass on the final play of the first half.
Barkley opened the second half by losing a fumble on a strip/sack by Julius Peppers and then was intercepted twice by safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix on overthrown passes over the middle. Green Bay converted the three third-quarter takeaways into two touchdowns and a field goal.
Barkley had an up-and-down game in his fourth straight start, completing 30 of 43 passes for a career-high 362 yards with two TDs, three interceptions and an 81.7 passer rating.
"We dug ourselves a hole, but he responded, we responded," Fox said. "That's the good news. The bad news is we didn't do the things necessary to win the game. We'd like to avoid those picks and hopefully at some point we will."
Rodgers connected on 19 of 31 passes for 252 yards and an 87.0 rating. After throwing for 17 TDs with just one interception in his previous seven games against the Bears, he was held out of the end zone Sunday—though Davante Adams dropped two sure touchdown passes. Rodgers has now won 12 of the last 13 games he's started and finished against the Bears.
The Bears defense instead was gashed on the ground, allowing 226 yards and three touchdowns on 23 rushes to a Packers team that was missing its top two running backs, Eddie Lacy and James Starks. Converted receiver Ty Montgomery ran for 162 yards and two TDs on 16 attempts, while Christine Michael added 45 yards and one TD on four carries.
In his return from a four-game suspension, Jeffery caught six passes for 89 yards and one TD. Two of his fellow receivers posted 100-yard games, with Cameron Meredith catching nine passes for 104 yards and Deonte Thompson producing eight receptions for 110 yards.
The temperature at kickoff Sunday was a frosty 11 degrees, but it wasn't as frigid as some weather reports had predicted.
Despite generating a season high in points, the Bears fell to 3-11.
"It's extremely frustrating," said defensive end Akiem Hicks. "It's not really something you can put into words. I don't like this feeling and I'm doing everything in my power and I'm sure everybody's doing everything in their power to make sure that we don't have this feeling again."