GREEN BAY – On a rainy Thanksgiving night at Lambeau Field, the Bears showed the football world just how much progress they've made in 12 months as an organization.
After trailing last year's game in Green Bay 42-0 at halftime, the Bears not only battled toe-to-toe with their arch rivals but dealt them a stunning 17-13 defeat.
Stingy all night, the Bears defense forced Aaron Rodgers to throw four straight incomplete passes from the 8-yard line in the final minute of the game, clinching the win when he failed to connect with receiver Davante Adams in the end zone with :22 remaining.
"Tough, hard-fought victory," said coach John Fox. "It's a very difficult team to come up here and beat. I thought our guys played hard. They played their hearts out; just tough, gritty football."
The defense allowed just one touchdown and generated two takeaways, including a Tracy Porter interception at the Green Bay 45 on a pass intended for Adams with 3:19 left in the fourth quarter.
"The front seven did a good job of putting pressure on [Rodgers]," Porter said. "I read the route that he was trying to make. They were trying to make a quick throw and I just beat him to the spot."
It was easily the most impressive win in Fox's first season with the Bears and could prove to be a watershed moment for a team that has been dominated by the Packers. Prior to Thursday night, the Bears had lost four straight and 10 of their last 11 meetings to Green Bay.
Rodgers, who threw an NFL-record six touchdown passes in the first half of last year's 55-14 win over the Bears at Lambeau Field, completed 22 of 43 passes for 202 yards on Thursday night with one TD, one interception and a 62.4 passer rating.
"You don't ever plan to really shut him down because of the elite quarterback that he is," said safety Chris Prosinski. "But for us, the safeties and secondary disguised things a lot of the time. He likes to get to the line of scrimmage and read what the defense is and manage the game that way, so we just tried to hold our coverages."
With the victory, the Bears (5-6) equaled their win total from all of last season and improved to 5-3 since their 0-3 start. They've now won three straight road games for the first time since 2012.
The Packers (7-4) took a 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter as Eddie Lacy turned a screen pass from Rodgers into a 25-yard TD.
The Bears offense struggled early, opening the game with three straight three-and-outs and producing just one first down while punting on their first five possessions.
The defense forced its first turnover of the game when Prosinski stripped the ball from Lacy and outside linebacker Lamarr Houston recovered at the Green Bay 34.
The offense capitalized on the takeaway as tight end Zach Miller caught a 3-yard TD pass from Jay Cutler on third-and-goal, tying the score 7-7 with 6:03 left in the second quarter.
Jeff Janis returned the ensuing kickoff 64 yards to the Bears' 33, setting up Mason Crosby's 22-yard field goal, which gave the Packers a 10-7 lead.
But the Bears answered, taking a 14-10 lead as Jeremy Langford capped a 7-play, 58-yard drive with a 1-yard TD run with :30 left in the first half.
The Packers cut the deficit to 14-13 on Crosby's 50-yard field goal as time expired in the half, but Gould responded with a 21-yarder early in the fourth quarter to make it 17-13.
Green Bay threatened on its final two drives, reaching the 50 before Porter's interception and then marching all the way to the Chicago 8 before being turned away by the Bears defense.
Cutler completed 19 of 31 passes for 200 yards with 1 TD, no interceptions and a 90.8 passer rating. He operated an offense that did not commit a turnover while playing in a steady rainstorm throughout the game. Jeffery returned after missing last Sunday's game against the Broncos and caught seven passes for 90 yards.
"This has been a confident group all year long," Cutler said. "Once we started playing some tight games, winning a few, we have been in a lot of games in the fourth quarter and we've won some and we've lost some. But the theme is that we have always been there, we've always had a shot. I think coach Fox has been sending the message and the guys have been listening and believing in him."