PACK­ERS 24, BEARS 23

Packer Plus - - NEWS - Ge­naro C. Ar­mas AP sports writer

Sum­mary, box score, game re­port, in­sider, grades

Green Bay — Aaron Rodgers heard the ap­plause af­ter walk­ing out of the sta­dium tun­nel and back on to the field.

The team doctor had checked out his left knee af­ter the Green Bay Pack­ers quar­ter­back was carted off the field in the sec­ond quar­ter. Rodgers, it seemed, had avoided a ma­jor in­jury.

He was good to go. The adren­a­line kicked in.

“When I got the ova­tion, at that point, I said, ‘We might as well win this thing,’” Rodgers re­counted.

The hob­bling two-time NFL MVP threw three touch­down passes in the sec­ond half af­ter re­turn­ing from in­jury, and the Pack­ers over­came a 20-point deficit for a thrilling 24-23 win over the Chicago Bears on Sun­day night.

Rodgers con­nected with re­ceiver Ran­dall Cobb for a catch-and-run through the se­condary for a 75-yard touch­down and the go-ahead score with 2:13 left in the game.

“Aaron Rodgers was re­mark­able. I just can’t tell you how proud I am with him,” coach Mike McCarthy said.

Nick Perry sacked the Bears’ Mitchell Tru­bisky on fourth-and-10 with 58 sec­onds to com­plete the come­back.

Against the archri­val Bears. To start the Pack­ers’ 100th sea­son.

Sun­day marked the first time in fran­chise his­tory that the Pack­ers won af­ter trail­ing by 17-plus points en­ter­ing the fourth quar­ter, ac­cord­ing to the Elias Sports Bu­reau.

The Pack­ers posted the sec­ond-largest come­back in fran­chise his­tory at Lam­beau Field, be­hind only a rally from 21 points down to beat New Or­leans on Sept. 17, 1989. For Rodgers, this was spe­cial. “This will def­i­nitely go down as one my fa­vorite mem­o­ries, es­pe­cially in this ri­valry,” Rodgers said.

And es­pe­cially be­cause how aw­ful the Pack­ers played in the first half.

A Chicago de­fense fea­tur­ing newly ac­quired star line­backer Khalil Mack dom­i­nated un­til the third quar­ter. Mack had a 27-yard in­ter­cep­tion re­turn for a touch­down against backup quar­ter­back DeShone Kizer in the sec­ond quar­ter.

A gimpy Rodgers re­turned in the sec­ond half and fi­nally fig­ured out the Bears. He also found Da­vante Adams and Geron­imo Al­li­son for touch­down passes.

He fin­ished 20 of 30 for 286 yards, in­clud­ing 17 of 23 for 273 yards in the sec­ond half.

“Ob­vi­ously, that’s a tough one for us. It stings,” coach Matt Nagy said af­ter his Bears de­but.

It was Rodgers’ first reg­u­lar-sea­son home game since Sept. 28 against the Bears. He was lim­ited to seven games in 2017 be­cause of a col­lar­bone in­jury.

Mack nearly stole the show. He also stripped the ball for a turnover in the red zone off Kizer in the sec­ond quar­ter. Mack made an im­me­di­ate im­pact in his first game since the Bears ac­quired the premier pass rusher in a block­buster deal with the Oak­land Raiders.

The Bears led 20-0 at one point and their de­fense dom­i­nated un­til the sec­ond half.

Then Rodgers re­turned, and the Pack­ers’ de­fense held the Bears in check.

“I pre­pared all off-sea­son for the first game of the sea­son and I wanted to … make an im­pact,” Mack said. “But you want to win these games. That’s the only thing on my mind. I hate los­ing.”

Rodgers in­jury: Rodgers was hurt in the sec­ond quar­ter af­ter slip­ping to the turf while un­der pres­sure from Mack and de­fen­sive line­man Roy Robert­sonHar­ris. The line­man landed on Rodgers.

The quar­ter­back ini­tially tried to get up, then went back down, and was attended to by train­ers. He ap­peared to reach down for the back of his left leg. Rodgers then walked to the cart that took him up the Lam­beau Field tun­nel.

Rodgers had ACL surgery on his left knee while in col­lege.

McCarthy said he was pre­pared to go with Kizer to start the sec­ond half un­til get­ting the word from the team doctor in the tun­nel.

“His per­for­mance speaks for it­self,” McCarthy said.

With lim­ited mo­bil­ity, Rodgers op­er­ated a no-hud­dle of­fense in the sec­ond half that kept him in the pocket. His right arm was just fine. “It was go­ing to have to take some­thing re­ally cat­a­strophic in­jury-wise to keep me off the field in the sec­ond half,” Rodgers said.

The Pack­ers plan to run more tests on their QB on Mon­day, though Rodgers seems to think his avail­abil­ity for next week’s game against Min­nesota is a fore­gone con­clu­sion.

“No, I’m plan­ning on play­ing,” Rodgers said. Fast start: An of­fen­sive-minded coach, Nagy had the ag­gres­sive Bears’ of­fense push­ing the Pack­ers around the field in the first half.

Mitchell Tru­bisky was 23 of 35 for 171 yards. He also ran for 32 yards on seven car­ries, in­clud­ing a 2-yard touch­down run in the first quar­ter.

It turned out to be the only of­fen­sive touch­down the Bears would score all night.

The Pack­ers’ de­fense, in new co­or­di­na­tor Mike Pet­tine’s first game, held the Bears to two field goals in the sec­ond half.

“You know we talked about fin­ish­ing and we didn’t do that,” Nagy said.

An­them: There were no ap­par­ent signs of protest dur­ing the na­tional an­them, when Bears play­ers and coaches locked arms on the side­line.

MARK HOFF­MAN / MIL­WAU­KEE JOUR­NAL SEN­TINEL

Pack­ers wide re­ceiver Ran­dall Cobb scores a touch­down on a 75-yard re­cep­tion de­spite the ef­forts of Bears line­backer Khalil Mack dur­ing Sun­day night’s game.

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