GREEN BAY, WIS. – In a night of celebration, returns and nostalgia at Lambeau Field, the Green Bay Packers lost a heartbreaker to the rival Chicago Bears, 17-13, on Thanksgiving night. The Packers are now 7-4 and once again fall behind the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC North standings.
Many believed the Packers were once again the dominant team they were this year after they blew out the first-place Vikings in Minnesota Sunday 30-13. This game, however, was more indicative of what they have been over the last month, having trouble driving the ball downfield and lack of scoring. Eddie Lacy did have another 100-yard rushing game but also a costly fumble and Aaron Rodgers had 202 yards passing but only went 22/43 passing and he threw a costly interception in the fourth quarter.
The Packers began the game with the ball and, out of the gun, Lacy powered for a 29-yard run to midfield. They could not take advantage of that as the Bears forced a turnover on downs after the Packers could not convert a fourth-and-one attempt. The Bears took possession but, much like their offense during the first quarter, they could not get a first down between mistakes on offense and the Packers’ lockdown defense.
After the second Bears’ punt the Packers scored first when Rodgers threw a screen pass to Lacy, who took it 25 yards to the end zone to give Green Bay the 7-0 lead. After matching drives that went three and out to end the first quarter, the Bears seized an opportunity to gain momentum early in the second quarter when Chicago safety Chris Prosinski stripped Lacy. With favorable field position, the Bears would remain on the field after three third down conversions; two of those on passes from quarterback Jay Cutler to receiver Marc Mariani and the last to tight end Zach Miller for a three-yard touchdown to tie the game.
On the ensuing kickoff, Jeff Janis, for the second game in a row, had a huge kickoff return, breaking ahead for 64 yards to get the Packers in field goal range. After three plays from running back James Starks which he ran and caught the ball for ten yards on each play, the Packers were knocking on the door of the end zone. They could not take advantage as the Bears stopped them, forcing a 22-yard Mason Crosby field goal for a 10-7 lead.
The Bears would answer back after a big 37-yard kickoff return by Deonte Thompson to give Chicago excellent field position. After a 14-yard run by running back Jeremy Langford and a 20-yard catch-and-run by receiver Marquess Wilson, Langford would punch the ball in from one yard to give the Bears a 14-10 lead with under two minutes in the first half.
With 27 seconds left the Packers would respond with a 50-yard field goal after they got in range with a 23-yard reception by receiver Randall Cobb. The Bears took a 14-13 lead into halftime.
The Bears began the second half with the ball but both teams had long matching possessions that ended in a punt throughout the third quarter. The visitors would have the ball heading into the fourth quarter and a 22-yard pass to receiver Alshon Jeffery put Chicago in the shadow of the end zone. The Packers’ defense would prevent the touchdown and the Bears settled on a 21-yard Robbie Gould field goal to take the 17-13 lead.
With four minutes left in the drive the Packers looked to get the ball moving as Rodgers scrambled for a combined 28 yards on two attempts and completed a 12-yard pass to tight end Richard Rodgers. However, the drive was halted, as an intended pass to receiver Davante Adams was intercepted by Bears’ cornerback Tracy Porter. The Bears couldn’t do anything on the subsequent possession, as they went three-and-out and gave Green Bay one more opportunity to win with three minutes left.
The Packers would drive the ball downfield, beginning on their own 20 with Rodgers completing an 18-yard pass to Starks and a 32-yard pass to Cobb en route to the red zone. They got to the goal line with under a minute left, but on four attempts they could not get the touchdown as the last attempt went through Adams’ hands in the end zone to turn the ball over on downs.
On the night Brett Favre got his retired number displayed at Lambeau Field and legendary quarterback Bart Starr made his triumphant comeback/recovery from stroke to make it to Green Bay one more time on Thanksgiving night, the Packers could not defeat their underdog rival.
The Packers will take on the hot Lions in Detroit next Thursday night. The Bears will return to Chicago to take on the San Francisco 49ers next Sunday.