Three moments that mattered
1. Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones scored a touchdown with 3:47 remaining to increase the Packers’ lead to 28-16. The following Bears possession, former Bears defensive back Adrian Amos intercepted Mitch Trubisky and the Packers eventually scored the dagger touchdown to Davante Adams with 2:56 remaining.
2. The Bears were 4-for-4 on fourth down conversions by early in the fourth quarter, which included two Trubisky sneaks. The refs missed an apparent false start by Bears guard Alex Bars on the second conversion during that drive alone. With 11:42 left in the fourth quarter, Trubisky threw an incompletion on fourth-and-1 – No David Montgomery there? – which ended their long drive without points down five.
3. Aaron Rodgers’ first incompletion of the game came on a pass attempt that should’ve been a touchdown to wideout Marquez Valdes-Scantling on their second half opening possession. That would’ve made it likely 28-13. Instead, Khalil Mack eventually earned a sack and the Packers were forced to punt. The next Packers possession, the Bears dropped consecutive interception opportunities that might’ve turned into six points the other way.
Three things that worked
1. Mooney and Kmet: With Allen Robinson hobbled with an apparent injury – and no catches until 3:02 left in the third quarter – Darnell Mooney and Cole Kmet combined for 17 catches and 130 yards. Mooney (11 catches, 93 yards) was especially a standout with his highlight 53-yard catch to set up the Bears’ eventual field goal to make it 21-16 Green Bay midway through the third quarter.
2. The first offensive drive: After a wacky opening kickoff, the Bears chewed up 7:29 of clock, converted a fourth down in the process and scored a touchdown to take the early lead. It was the perfect snapshot of how to keep pace with the Packers: Keep Rodgers off the field and come away with six instead of three points. The Bears problem, however, was being unable to sustain that blueprint long-term.
3. Montgomery and Santos: The stats aren’t eye-popping after his 69-yard performance, but Montgomery rushed for a touchdown for his fifth consecutive game, the first Bear to do so since 1990. Kicker Cairo Santos also kicked his 27th consecutive field goal, which broke Robbie Gould’s franchise record dating back to 2005-06.
Three things that didn’t
1. Win: The Bears controlled their own playoff destiny entering Sunday: Win and they’re in the postseason or rely on the Los Angeles Rams to defeat the Arizona Cardinals. The Rams took care of their end of the bargain and gifted the Bears a postseason bid that appeared extremely unlikely a month and a half ago during that six-game losing streak.
2. Containing Rodgers: We get it: Completely stopping Rodgers wasn’t realistic; instead, the Bears best hope was to contain him. At the half, Rodgers had no incompletions, three touchdowns and a perfect passer rating. His first incompletion came on a total drop that probably would’ve been a touchdown on their second half opening drive. While the Bears certainly cleaned it up in the second half – the defense dropped three interception opportunities – Rodgers finished 19-for-24 with 240 yards and four touchdowns.
3. Pass rush: The Bears didn’t record a sack the first time these two teams met this season. Despite missing Pro Bowl left tackle David Bakhtiari suffering a season-ending knee injury earlier in the week, the Bears’ high-priced pass-rush crew failed to register a sack in the first half. Khalil Mack eventually got one with 12:36 left in the third quarter.
Despite the loss, the Bears are indeed headed to their second playoff berth under Nagy as a wildcard. They will head to New Orleans to face the Saints next weekend.