Close but no cigar: Bears fall to Packers again

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The Chicago Bears rallied from a 17-point fourth quarter deficit to tie the game, but Aaron Rodgers did them one better in lifting Green Bay over the Bears 30-27 at frigid Soldier Field Sunday afternoon.  The Bears fall to 3-11 while the Packers remain in the NFC playoff hunt at 8-6.

After Chicago’s Connor Barth tied the game at 27, the Packers took over on the ensuing possession and faced a 3-and-11 from inside the 30 with under a minute to play. Rodgers had plenty of time to survey the field and uncorked a 60-yard completion to Jordy Nelson, who had a step on Bears defender Cre’Von LeBlanc. With time winding down, Green Bay’s Mason Crosby came on to boot a 32-yard field goal that broke the Bears hearts. “We just didn’t execute as well,” said Chicago head coach John Fox. “It was a pretty good ball by No. 12 and he can do that. They executed on that play better than we did. Our guys fought hard. We had an opportunity to win a game and we came up short. It’s happened quite a few times here of late.”.

The disappointing conclusion nixed a furious Bears comeback directed by Matt Barkley. Barkley nearly overcame a four turnover day (three interceptions, fumble lost) were it not for Rodgers late heroics. With the Packers leading 27-10 late in the third quarter. Barkley engineered consecutive drives that culminated with a 8-yard touchdown pass to Alshon Jeffery, a 9-yard burst by Jordan Howard, and Barth’s 32-yard field goal to knot the game at 27-all.  Barkley finished 30-of 43-passes for a career-high 362 yards with two TDs, three interceptions and an 81.7 passer rating.

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The loss overshadowed the Bears season-high offensive output in points and strong receiving performances from both Deonte Thompson (8 catches for 110-yards) and Cameron Meredith ( 9 balls for 104-yards). Meanwhile, Chicago running back Jordan Howard was largely kept in check, though he managed 90-yards on 16 carries and rushed for a touchdown. Howard eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark in his rookie season, matching a similar feat of five other Bear rookie running backs (Anthony Thomas ,Beattie Feathers, Matt Forte, and Hall of Famers Gale Sayers and Walter Payton).

Though Chicago’s defense held tough for most of the afternoon, Bears defenders struggled tackling. Green Bay’s Ty Montgomery, a converted wide receiver forced to play running back due to injuries, weaved through and around Chicago would-be tacklers for 162 yards and two touchdowns. The ground attack completed Rodgers passing, though the Bears did keep him from throwing a touchdown pass. Rodgers completed 19-of-31 passes for 252 yards and has now won 12 of the last 13 games he’s started and finished against the Bears.

While the Bears have been resilient in the season’s final month, the script rema

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ins the same. “We dug ourselves a hole, but he (Barkley) responded, we responded,” Fox said. “That’s the good news. The bad news is we didn’t do the things necessary to win the game. We’d like to avoid those picks and hopefully at some point we will.” The final word came from Chicago DT Akiem Hicks: “It’s extremely frustrating.  It’s not really something you can put into words. I don’t like this feeling and I’m doing everything in my power and I’m sure everybody’s doing everything in their power to make sure that we don’t have this feeling again.”

Extra Points: Alshon Jeffery caught six passes, all in the fourth quarter, and a touchdown in his return from a four-game PED suspension….With the loss, the Bears are now tied n their all-time series with the Packers for the first time since 1933. The series is now tied 94-94-6.

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