Bears come from behind to top Packers

(Jonathan Daniel)
By Mark Maske
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 28, 2010

CHICAGO - The Green Bay Packers have been hailed as top Super Bowl contenders in the NFC, but now they find themselves chasing the Chicago Bears in their own division. The Bears got big plays on special teams and defense and came from behind in the fourth quarter to beat the Packers, 20-17, Monday night at Soldier Field.

The Bears improved their record to 3-0 and moved a game ahead of the Packers in the NFC North. Place kicker Robbie Gould's 19-yard field goal with four seconds to play won it for the Bears after linebacker Brian Urlacher forced a fumble by Packers wide receiver James Jones with just more than two minutes remaining. The Bears recovered the fumble in Green Bay territory, and their winning drive continued after an interception thrown by quarterback Jay Cutler was negated by a pass interference penalty on the Packers.

Devin Hester gave the Bears a boost on special teams with a 62-yard touchdown on a fourth-quarter punt return. Hester also set up a first-half touchdown with a punt return, and the Bears blocked a Green Bay field goal attempt.

Cutler threw a touchdown pass to tight end Greg Olsen in the final minute of the first half, and Gould provided a field goal earlier in the fourth quarter.

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw for one touchdown and ran for another for the Packers (2-1). Rodgers threw a first-quarter touchdown pass to wide receiver Greg Jennings, and gave the Packers a 17-14 lead with a fourth-quarter touchdown run.

Rodgers was sharp from the outset. He completed all four of his throws on the Packers' opening drive. Rodgers zipped a pass to Jennings in the back of the end zone for a seven-yard touchdown to finish the drive.

The Packers punted the second time they had the ball, but Rodgers was back at it on their third possession. The Packers held the ball for 14 plays and nearly eight minutes but had to settle for kicker Mason Crosby's 38-yard field goal and a 10-0 lead.

Cutler was the league's top-rated passer entering the game. But the Green Bay defense kept him in check for most of the first half, sacking him three times and intercepting him once.

Gould missed a 49-yard field goal attempt on the Bears' opening drive. Cutler threw an interception to safety Derrick Martin in the end zone to squander a scoring chance the second time the Bears had the ball, and they punted on their third and fourth possessions of the night. But Hester's 28-yard punt return put them in business at the Green Bay 44-yard line late in the first half, and Cutler threw a nine-yard touchdown pass to Olsen 26 seconds before halftime.

Rodgers threw an interception on a desperation throw down the field to end the first half, and the Bears managed to reach the intermission trailing by only three points. Their good fortune continued early in the third quarter, when the Packers crafted another long drive and appeared to get a touchdown on a pass from Rodgers to tight end Jermichael Finley. But the touchdown was nullified when Packers right tackle Mark Tauscher was called for holding after grabbing the jersey of Bears defensive end Julius Peppers. The Packers didn't even get a field goal, as Peppers blocked Crosby's 37-yard kick.

The Bears moved into position to tie the game or take the lead. But Coach Lovie Smith lost an instant replay challenge on a third-down completion from Cutler to wide receiver Earl Bennett. The Bears contended that Bennett got into the end zone, but the officials ruled before and after the review that Bennett was stopped short of the goal line.

Smith opted against a potential tying field goal and left his offense on the field on fourth down. Cutler had tight end Desmond Clark open on the fourth-down play. But Cutler's throw was behind Clark, and the ball bounced off Clark's hands for an incompletion.

The Packers failed to get a first down, however, and had to punt out of their end zone. Hester fielded the punt at the Chicago 38-yard line, cut to his right and raced into the open field. He hurdled Packers punter Tim Masthay, who had tackled Hester on his long first-half return, and reached the end zone for his eighth career touchdown on punt returns, and first since the 2007 season.

Rodgers and the Packers had an immediate reply. They reclaimed the lead with a touchdown on Rodgers's three-yard run, as he sprinted to his right on a scramble and got the ball across the goal line with a dive. The Bears were aided by two Packers' personal fouls, one of which nullified an interception thrown by Cutler, and got even on a 25-yard field goal by Gould with just less than four minutes left.

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