On one blissful Sunday afternoon at Soldier Field, the Bears accomplished more than most outside Halas Hall ever dreamed was possible before the start of the 2018 season.
With an inspiring 24-17 win over the Packers, the Bears (10-4) clinched the NFC North title, earned a playoff berth for the first time since 2010, snapped an eight-game home losing streak to Green Bay and eliminated the Packers (5-8-1) from playoff contention.
They also avenged a 24-23 loss to Green Bay in the season opener at Lambeau Field, a game in which the Bears failed to protect a 20-0 third-quarter lead.
"It's a humbling experience for all of us," said coach Matt Nagy. "We talked about finishing all week—finish, finish, finish. We had a very similar situation as we did the first week and we were able to finish the game."
Mitchell Trubisky rebounded from a sub-par performance in last Sunday night's win over the Rams, completing 20 of 28 passes for 235 yards with two touchdowns, no interceptions and a 120.4 passer rating.
Defensively, the Bears allowed just one touchdown, sacked Aaron Rodgers five times and continued to excel in "quick change" situations. After the Bears lost a fumble with the score tied 14-14 early in the fourth quarter, the defense followed with two three-and-outs and an interception in the end zone by Eddie Jackson.
"It's just a mindset and all the guys being on the same page, understanding the situation," said Khalil Mack, who recorded 2.5 sacks. "We want to make the most of it and be dominating in those situations, knowing that those things are going to happen throughout the game. It's our job to be ready for the adversity."
The Bears took a 21-14 lead on Trubisky's 13-yard TD strike to Trey Burton with 10:16 left in the fourth quarter and Cody Parkey added a 24-yard field goal with 6:43 to play.
The Packers closed the gap to 24-17 on Mason Crosby's 45-yard field goal with :11 remaining. But Allen Robinson II recovered Crosby's ensuing onside kick to ice the win.
"I'm really happy for this organization," said cornerback Prince Amukamara. "The McCaskeys are probably so excited. They are going to have an even better Christmas. This was for the fans, this was for the organization, and we are glad that we were able to do it."
The Bears took a 7-0 lead on Jordan Howard's 9-yard touchdown run late in the first quarter. On the TD drive, Howard rushed for 22 yards on five carries and caught a 15-yard pass. Trubisky completed 4 of 4 passes for 38 yards to four different receivers.
After Crosby's 41-yard field goal drew the Packers to within 7-3 midway through the second quarter, the Bears widened the margin to 14-3 on Tarik Cohen's 12-yard touchdown reception from Trubisky with :30 left in the half. Cohen caught the ball in the right flat and beat safety Kentrell Brice to the corner of the end zone.
Cohen's TD came after Leonard Floyd had stopped running back Jamaal Williams for a two-yard gain on third-and-three, forcing the Packers to punt after a three-and-out. Floyd also recorded two sacks of Rodgers in the game.
The Bears defense held the Packers to 122 yards on 27 plays in the first half, extending the unit's streak without allowing a touchdown to seven quarters.
But Green Bay scored 11 points on its first two possessions of the second half, tying the score 14-14. First, Crosby's 43-yard field goal made it 14-6. The kick came one play after Sherrick McManis broke up a long pass intended for Randall Cobb.
The Packers tied the game on Williams' 10-yard touchdown run coupled with Rodgers' two-point conversion pass to Davante Adams with 4:10 left in the third quarter.
The Bears were in position to snap the deadlock early in the fourth quarter. But on third-and-one from the Green Bay 23, Cohen took a direct snap and fumbled as he tried to hand off to Howard. Packers defensive end Dean Lowry recovered the ball at the 26.
The defense held and the offense scored 10 points, enabling the Bears to beat the Packers in Chicago for the first time since Sept. 27, 2010.
"It's a blessing," Floyd said. "We've been working so hard [since] this offseason to win the North and today we went out and finished the drill."