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Rapid Recap: Bears fall to Packers in season finale

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GREEN BAY, Wis. – The Bears closed the 2023 season with 17-9 loss to the rival Packers Sunday at Lambeau Field.

The offense failed to score a touchdown for the second time this season, mustering only three Cairo Santos field goals while being limited to 192 yards and 13 first downs.

The defense was unable to contain Packers quarterback Jordan Love, who completed 27 of 32 passes for 316 yards with two touchdowns and a 128.6 passer rating. Green Bay's Aaron Jones rushed for 111 yards on 22 carries.

Justin Fields connected on 11 of 16 passes for 148 yards and a 97.9 passer rating. The Bears rushing attack mustered 75 yards on 25 carries.

With the loss, the Bears finished in fourth place in the NFC North with a 7-10 record. They've now dropped 10 straight games to the Packers, last winning in 2018, and eight consecutive games at Lambeau Field, last winning in 2015.

"To summarize what I told the players in the locker room, there are two sides to this," said coach Matt Eberflus. "There's disappointment in the loss that we just had … but then the other side of it is it's the end of our season.

"I credited the players for the development that they had of this football team, and not only that but of themselves, and I really credit those guys for hanging in there after the 0-4 start and the leadership that those guys had to be able to do that, to be able to finish the season off 5-3. It's really a testament to all those guys in the room; the coaches, the support staff and everybody in there to be able to accomplish that."

With Sunday's win, the Packers (9-8) earned a wild card berth in the NFC playoffs. With the Buccaneers beating the Panthers and the Saints defeating the Falcons in Sunday's early games, Green Bay kicked off against the Bears knowing it needed a victory to reach the playoffs.

Sunday's contest was an unusual one in that the two teams combined for just 13 possessions. The Bears alternated punts and field goals on their six drives, while the Packers compiled 432 yards on seven drives and did not punt in the game.

The big difference was on third down; the Bears converted just 3-of-11 opportunities (27.3%) while the Packers were successful on 7-of-10 chances (70.0%).

"If you look at the third downs on both sides of the ball," Eberflus said, "they were able to sustain drives because of those conversions and they stopped us because of our inability to convert. It's always going to come down to that."

Another telling statistic was that the Bears produced one sack of Love and allowed five sacks of Fields.

"I felt their pass rush, but I didn't feel ours," Eberflus said. "We've just got to do a good job of seeing what that is. We did pressure some, we did some of those things, but I'll go back and look at it.

"My hat's off to the defensive guys. They did a really good job of coming together, played some really good solid football during the course of this last eight weeks and we didn't play our best today."

Santos' 50-yard field goal on the game's opening possession gave the Bears a 3-0 lead. Fields completed 4 of 4 passes for 32 yards on the drive.

The Packers were in position to tie the score late in the first quarter, but Anders Carlson missed a 41-yard field goal attempt wide left. The kick came after Tyrique Stevenson broke up a pass intended for receiver Romeo Doubs in the end zone on second down and DeMarcus Walker sacked Love on third down.

Green Bay later took a 7-3 lead on Love's 10-yard touchdown pass to receiver Dontayvion Wicks midway through the second quarter. The TD capped an 11-play, 92-yard drive that was the Packers' longest scoring drive of the season.

Santos' 39-yard field goal drew the Bears to within 7-6 with 1:17 remaining in the first half. Fields sustained the drive with a 1-yard sneak on fourth-and-1 from the Green Bay 43 and a 33-yard pass to DJ Moore over the middle on third-and-four from the 50.

The Packers had a chance to increase their lead, facing second-and-10 from the Bears' 22 with :11 left in the half and no timeouts remaining. But Stevenson stopped Wicks' forward progress inbounds after a 3-yard reception and time expired.

Green Bay opened the second half with a 9-play, 75-yard drive capped by Love's 12-yard TD pass to Wicks, increasing the margin to 14-6.

The Packers were on the move again before Stevenson forced a Love fumble on a scramble and Jaquan Brisker recovered the ball at the Chicago 42.

The Bears converted the takeaway into Santos' 35-yard field goal, cutting the deficit to 14-9 with 13:03 remaining in the fourth quarter.

The Packers answered with Carlson's 25-yard field goal, which widened the margin to 17-9 with 10:54 to play. The kick was set up by Love's 59-yard pass to receiver Jayden Reed on Green Bay's first play from scrimmage on the drive.

Still trailing 17-9, the Bears pinned the Packers at their own 6 following a Trenton Gill punt with 6:08 remaining in the game. But Green Bay proceeded to pick up two first downs and ran out the rest of the clock as Love completed 4 of 4 passes for 46 yards.

"The defense got them in a couple third downs where we needed those stops," Eberflus said. "That's where you have to win the game in the fourth quarter or at least get a chance to tie it there."

On the shelf: Receiver Darnell Mooney (concussion), quarterback Tyson Bagent (illness) and cornerback Jaylon Johnson (shoulder) sat out Sunday's game. Other Bears inactives were running back D'Onta Foreman, guard Ja'Tyre Carter, cornerback Greg Stroman Jr. and safety Quindell Johnson.

The Packers played without running back AJ Dillon (thumb/neck), receiver Christian Watson (hamstring) and inside linebacker Isaiah McDuffie (concussion/neck).

Line change: With Lucas Patrick placed on injured reserve Saturday with a calf injury, Dan Feeney made his first start of the season at center Sunday.

Feeney, who appeared in 16 games this season, was flanked by left tackle Braxton Jones, left guard Teven Jenkins, right guard Nate Davis and right tackle Darnell Wright. It was the ninth different offensive line combination for the Bears this year.

Unfortunately, Davis exited in the first half with a foot injury and was replaced by veteran Cody Whitehair.

Check out the on-field action as the Bears face off against the Packers in the 2023 season finale at Lambeau Field.

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