The Packers played without star quarterback Aaron Rodgers and lost their top two running backs Sunday at Soldier Field. But the Bears were still unable to knock off their longtime rivals, falling 23-16 on a dreary, rainy afternoon along Chicago's lakefront.
The Bears offense compiled 323 yards but mustered only one touchdown, while the defense allowed Rodgers' replacement, Brett Hundley, to complete 18 of 25 passes for 212 yards with one touchdown, no interceptions and a 110.8 passer rating.
"Obviously a very disappointing loss here at home," said coach John Fox. "I think like a lot of games this season, we've kind of been in the thick of things until the end and just came up a little short."
Trailing 23-16, the Bears had an opportunity to send the game into overtime after Mason Crosby missed a 35-yard field goal attempt following a botched hold with 1:02 left in the game. But they turned the ball over on downs at their own 43 with :28 to play.
Reverting to an early-season trend, the Bears shot themselves in the foot repeatedly. They committed 11 penalties—seven of which were accepted—in the first half alone.
The key play in the game occurred midway through the second quarter. With the Bears trailing 10-3, Benny Cunningham caught a screen pass on third-and-13 from the Green Bay 25 and weaved through defenders before eventually diving for the pylon.
Cunningham was ruled out of bounds at the 2. The Bears challenged the call, believing that he had touched the ball to the pylon before his knee landed out of bounds. But after a replay review, referee Tony Corrente ruled that Cunningham had lost the ball an instant before it touched the pylon, and the Packers were awarded a touchback.
"Every indication we had was that he scored," Fox said. "And if anything, he would be at the 1 or inside the 1. Obviously that's a play you'd like to have back, but that's not how this game works."
The Bears (3-6) have now lost eight straight meetings to the Packers (5-4) at Soldier Field, a streak that began with the 2010 NFC Championship Game.
On Sunday, Crosby's third field goal, a 50-yarder, gave Green Bay a 16-6 lead early in the fourth quarter. Up to that point, the Bears had produced just two Connor Barth field goals against the Packers and the offense had generated only one touchdown on its last 35 possessions over four games.
But the drought ended when Mitchell Trubisky lofted a perfect 46-yard touchdown pass to receiver Joshua Bellamy, who beat cornerback Davon House with a double move to cut the deficit to 16-13 with 10:39 remaining in the game.
But the Packers answered with an eight-play, 75-yard drive that was capped by Hundley's 19-yard TD pass to receiver Davante Adams, widening the margin to 23-13.
Trubisky completed 21 of 35 passes for a career-high 297 yards with one TD, no interceptions and a 97.0 passer rating. He was also sacked five times.
"I thought statistically and poise-wise in handling situations, I thought his play was probably the best to date," Fox said. "Was it perfect? No. It seldom is. But I was impressed with the young guy."
In his first game since being acquired by the Bears in a trade with the Chargers Oct. 26, receiver Dontrelle Inman had a team-leading six receptions for 88 yards. But he dropped a slightly-high-but-catchable pass over the middle on the Bears' final drive that would have resulted in a first down in Green Bay territory.
The Packers not only played without Rodgers, who is out indefinitely with a broken right collarbone, but they lost top running backs Aaron Jones (knee) and Ty Montgomery (ribs) to injuries Sunday. Montgomery exited after rushing for 54 yards on six carries, including a 37-yard TD that gave Green Bay a 10-3 second-quarter lead. Third-string back Jamaal Williams rushed for 67 yards on 20 carries.
"We're definitely disappointed as a team," cornerback Prince Amukamara said after Sunday's loss. "But we're not discouraged, by no means. Not taking away from what Green Bay did, I mean Brett played a great game. He's been getting better ever since he started. But a lot of the stuff was self-inflicted on ourselves. That's just been the theme this year. When we've had enough, it will stop. But we have to make a decision."