Packers edge Bears, 23-16
CHICAGO (AP) — The Green Bay Packers would love nothing more than to have Aaron Rodgers return this season and lead a deep playoff run.
There’s no guarantee their superstar quarterback comes back from a broken collarbone. That means Brett Hundley is on the spot, at least for now.
“We’re trying to weather the storm until 12 gets back,” linebacker Clay Matthews said. “You got to get a win. That’s exactly what we did. We grinded it out.”
The Packers finally won without Rodgers, beating the Chicago Bears 23-16 on Sunday.
Hundley came through in his third start filling in for Rodgers, throwing for 212 yards and a touchdown. Nick Perry had three sacks, and the Packers stopped a three-game losing streak.
Beating the Bears (3-6) doesn’t solve all of Green Bay’s problems. But considering their season was in danger of slipping away, the Packers (5-4) can at least breathe a little easier.
Hundley made the most of his chances after the Packers kept things simple the previous two games. He completed 18 of 25 passes even though his hamstring tightened. It helped that the Packers were also able to move the ball on the ground, rushing for 160 yards.
Ty Montgomery ran for a 37-yard touchdown in the second quarter. He sat out the second half with a rib injury, leaving the Packers without their top two running backs after Aaron Jones injured his knee.
Jamaal Williams stepped up with 67 yards over the final two quarters, and the run game allowed Green Bay to control the clock for 21:05 in the second half after the Packers had it for 12:48 in the first half.
The Bears had seven penalties in the first half, not to mention three more that were declined. They were flagged for false starts on back-to-back plays in the first quarter.
But Chicago settled down with just one penalty in the second half.
“It seems uncharacteristic for us,” said quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, who threw for a career-high 297 yards and a touchdown. “We were locked in, ready to go, but I guess we weren’t just focused at that moment. So we’re going to analyze that. We know that’s one of our weaknesses right now. I mean, we’re only hurting ourselves. It’s nothing they were doing schematically.”
It seemed a strange time for a lack of focus, considering the Bears were coming out of a bye week and had a chance to climb back into the division race.
“Everyone has their own interpretation,” coach John Fox said. “But we had an opportunity to win that game. Like some of the games before, not necessarily coming out of or into a bye, we just came up short.”
Monsters at the Midway
Only one team had fewer sacks than Green Bay’s 13 coming into the game. So the Packers had to feel good after getting five against Trubisky.
Just as encouraging for them, they shut down the Bears’ run game. Sixth in the NFL in rushing coming in, Chicago managed 55 yards.
“We wanted to uphold our end of the bargain,” Matthews said. “We knew what we were going to get into with them running the ball. That’s what our defense has done very well.”
The Bears had struggled getting the ball completed to wide receivers all season, with Kevin White and Cameron Meredith on injured reserve. But in his first game for Chicago, former Chargers receiver Dontrelle Inman had six catches for 88 yards. Each represented the second-highest totals of the season by a Bears wide receiver.
Kendall Wright had seven catches Sept. 17 against Tampa Bay and Tre McBride had 92 yards receiving against New Orleans on Oct. 29 for team highs.
“I’ve got a lot of confidence in him,” Trubisky said. “He’s made a lot of great plays for us. He’s coming along really quick. It’s tough to get here on short notice and learn the playbook. So hats off to him for doing that.
Fox was asked if he’s worried about his job security considering he’s 12-29 in 2 1/2 seasons with the Bears. He is also in the next-to-last year of his contract.
“I’ve been doing this too long,” Fox said. “I’ve never worried about my job security, and I won’t start going forward.”