Rodgers throws three TDs as Packers top Bears
Chicago, IL – Aaron Rodgers threw three touchdown passes to 17 win over the Bears on Sunday in a rematch of last season's NFC Championship Game.
Rodgers completed 28-of-38 passes for 297 yards, hitting Finley for two scores in the first 18 minutes of the game to give Green Bay (3-0) a 14-0 lead.
Ryan Grant rushed for 92 yards on 17 carries and Greg Jennings had nine catches for 119 yards as the reigning Super Bowl champions ran their winning streak to nine games dating back to last season.
Jay Cutler passed for 302 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions for the Bears (1-2), who have dropped two straight games since winning their season opener against Atlanta.
Chicago looked like it pulled off the strangest punt return touchdown in recent memory late in the fourth quarter, only to have it called back by a holding penalty.
With about a minute remaining, the Packers converged on dangerous Bears return man Devin Hester on the left side of the field. None of them noticed that punter Tim Masthay had kicked to the other side, where Johnny Knox was standing all alone near the right sideline.
Knox bolted 89 yards downfield, unchallenged until Masthay's last-ditch dive near the goal line.
The touchdown could have pulled the Bears within three points, with a chance to pull off an onside kick, but Corey Graham was whistled for holding and they ran three final offensive plays instead as time ran out.
"Everyone was wondering what the heck just happened as he's running down the sideline with two blockers in front of him," said Rodgers.
"Honestly, we were talking about this in the locker room, that was the most incredible play that I've ever seen."
Rodgers was perfect on two first half scoring drives last January, leading the Packers to a 21-14 win for the NFC Championship and sending the Bears into the offseason with an injured quarterback.
On Sunday, Rodgers was 5-for-7 on the game's opening possession and hit Finley for a six-yard touchdown. An interception during the 80-yard drive was negated by a defensive offsides.
The Packers quarterback went 3-for-4 during a 60-yard drive that bled into the second quarter, completing a 24-yard pass to Finley before finding the tight end again for a seven-yard touchdown and 14-0 lead.
"We let them get off to that fast start again with their passing game," said Chicago head coach Lovie Smith.
Cutler and the Bears replied with an 80-yard march and Dane Sanzenbacher caught a four-yard touchdown pass to get them on the board with 8:12 remaining in the first half.
Green Bay's Mason Crosby and Chicago's Robbie Gould exchanged field goals before the break, as the Packers carried a 17-10 lead into the locker room.
Crosby added a field goal in the third quarter to make it 20-10 and Rodgers hit Finley for a third touchdown, this one from 10 yards, early in the fourth to take a 17-point lead.
In a quick series of turnovers that ended with a Chicago touchdown, Cutler was intercepted by safety Morgan Burnett and Packers running back James Starks fumbled on the next play.
Cutler hit Kellen Davis for a 32-yard touchdown pass on the next play, pulling the Bears within 27-17.
Rodgers was picked off by Brian Urlacher on the next series for the quarterback's first interception of the season.
"We just won a big division game against a rival on the road," Rodgers said, "but I think there's a feeling that we could have played a little better."
Burnett picked Cutler off twice...Sunday's game was the 183rd meeting between the oldest rivals in the NFL, including two in the playoffs. Chicago leads the all-time regular season series 91-84-6, but the Packers have won five of the last seven meetings.