3 and Out: Chicago Bears end season with 17-9 loss to Green Bay Packers

Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields (1) is stopped by Green Bay Packers linebacker Rashan Gary (52), linebacker Quay Walker (7) and defensive end Karl Brooks (94) during the second half Sunday, Jan. 7, 2024, in Green Bay, Wis.

The Bears couldn’t find a way to come back late and dash the Green Bay Packers’ playoff hopes Sunday, falling 17-9 at Lambeau Field. Here’s what you need to know:

Three moments that mattered

1. Running it out: Aaron Jones ended the Bears’ season by capping off a strong day with a run for a first down. Jones ran for 10 yards from the Green Bay 41-yard line to ice the game since the Bears didn’t have any more timeouts left. He ended the game with 111 rushing yards.

2. So close: The Bears came a step away from potentially tying the game at the start of the fourth quarter. With the ball on the Green Bay 17-yard line, quarterback Justin Fields ran to his right and almost found an open Cole Kmet in the end zone. The Packers’ Carrington Valentine instead jumped the pass and almost intercepted it, forcing the Bears to kick a field goal instead and make it a 14-9 Packers lead.

3. Missed opportunity: The Packers seemed like they were certain to score at least three points before heading into the half when they had the ball on the Bears’ 22-yard line with 11 seconds left. Jordan Love completed a short pass to Dontayvion Wicks, who couldn’t get out of bounds, and time expired in the quarter. The Packers missed out on six points in the first half after that moment and a missed field goal in the first quarter.

Three things that worked

1. DJ makes it count: Bears wide receiver DJ Moore made the most of his limited opportunities to make a difference in the game. He ended the game with 64 receiving yards on four catches, averaging 16 yards per catch. Moore finished the season with 1,364 receiving yards.

2. Streaky TOs: Tyrique Stevenson kept the Bears streak of forcing turnovers alive. Stevenson chased down Love on a scramble in the third quarter and got his helmet on the ball, forcing a fumble. The Bears created at least one turnover in six of their last seven games.

3. Staying consistent: While the Bears offense struggled to find ways to score touchdowns, kicker Cairo Santos capped another strong season. Santos made all three of his attempts from 50, 39 and and 35 yards respectively. He ended the year making 92.1% of his kicks, the second-highest percentage in his career.

Three things that didn’t

1. Not again: Love confirmed what many Bears fans feared Sunday: He’s the Packers’ quarterback of the future. Whether he reaches the level of Brett Favre or Aaron Rodgers is yet to be seen, but Love showed that he can make key plays when needed. Love completed 27-of-32 passes for 316 yards and two touchdowns.

2. Protecting Fields: There were many moments where Fields only had a few seconds before he was sacked or forced to get rid of the ball because of a rush by a Packers defender. The Packers sacked Fields five times and finished with five quarterback hits.

3. Failing when it matters: Fields and the offense couldn’t find a way to pick up first downs when they needed to extend drives. The Bears ended the game 3-of-11 on third downs, only scoring points off field goals. Many of the third-down stops ended with Packers sacks.

What’s next?

The Bears head into the offseason after missing the playoff for the third straight season. The NFL world will pay attention to what the Bears do this offseason, including whether general manager Ryan Poles will keep head coach Matt Eberflus, Fields and their No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming draft.

Michal Dwojak

Michal Dwojak

Michal is a sports enterprise reporter for Shaw Local, covering the CCL/ESCC for Friday Night Drive and other prep sports for the Northwest Herald. He also is a Chicago Bears contributing writer. He previously was the sports editor for the Glenview Lantern, Northbook Tower and Malibu Surfside News.