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Suburban Journals of Chicago Inc. photo

Dan Peters Sports Editor
Suburban Journals of Chicago Inc. 



Suburban Journals of Chicago Inc. photo

Packer’s late rally stuns the Bears at home 33-28


by Dan Peters

Its home for New Year’s.  Packer’s late rally stuns the Bears at home 33-28
NASCAR has silly season, so does the NFL, and for the Chicago Bears, this was one of their most silly of seasons.

The Bears came out of the gate strong, beating a stout Cincinnati Bengals team in the home opener under new Head Coach Marc Trestman. The 2013 edition of the “Monsters of the Midway” would be a Bears team like no other. The offense was on fire, and the Chicago fans would be excited. A Chicago Bears team with a scoring offense, something Chicago fans had not seen in years. The optimism was short-lived as the season rolled along. Bears fans began to ask “Where did the defense go?” Sure Brian Urlacher was gone, but the problems ran deeper than one lost player.

Injuries would rattle the once feared “Monsters” and you could sense there would be problems. And the problems would mount, even on the offensive side. Cutler would yet again be sidelined with several injuries. But this year we had a great backup in Josh McCown.  He came in the Green Bay game and played flawlessly, giving the Bears a rare win in Green Bay.

The Chicago Bears had the NFC North all but wrapped up week ago. The Bears entered the Philadelphia game and laid an egg, losing 54-11 to the soaring Eagles.  The division was theirs,    the Lions lost to the Ravens and Packers fell to the Steelers, it was simple.

The Green Bay Packers game at the end of the season, looked meaningless, but as the Bears roller-coaster season went on, the game became one of the most anticipated game in recent years. It seems that the NFC North title has become a Bears/Packers tradition, with the Bears coming up on the short end of the ball.

The defining moment…

The play that decided the outcome of the game and season was plenty entertaining, though in this game, it rated a distant second. It came on fourth-and-eight at Chicago's 48-yard line, with 46 seconds left, right after fullback John Kuhn figured out on the fly that the Packers couldn't protect quarterback Aaron Rodgers. So he cut in front of his quarterback as Bears end Julius Pepper was closing in.

Kuhn hit Peppers hard enough to make just enough room for Rodgers, who hadn't played since November because of a broken collarbone, to slide to his left. Rodgers quickly set his feet and determined to take advantage of his narrow escape, threw a 48-yard touchdown to wide-open Randall Cobb, who hadn't played since October because of a leg injury.

''To happen with those two guys, in that manner, whew,'' Green Bay defender Mike Neal said, letting out a low whistle.

''All the ups and downs the last two months, losing guys to injuries, the one-point wins - all the crazy stuff that happened to us and now this. It's, it's ...'' concurred teammate B.J. Raji, searching for the right words. ''It's just like real life.''

The game plan for both teams was simple..Win and you are in. This loss dropped quarterback Jay Cutler, whose contract is up, to 1-8 against the Packers, with only one trip to the postseason over that same five-season span. The debate on his future in Chicago, already percolating, will be boiling over for weeks.

“That’s a tough one to swallow. Like you said, ‘Right there knocking on the door’. That play didn’t lose the game for us. Looking back on the season, there’s one play here and there that - beginning of the game, end of the game, middle of the game - if we make it a few of those we’re in a different spot. Offensively, we got kicked off on three-and-outs a few too many times early. We settled in. Kind of got them figured out. Started rolling a little bit. That third down to Alshon (Jeffery), I wish I could have pushed it out a few more inches and kept the drive going. It is those little things along the course of a game that you wish you could have back especially when it ends that way.” Cutler said.

Rodgers, meanwhile, is headed back to the playoffs for the fifth time, having already won a Super Bowl for the Packers just three years ago. This time, it's in large part because of a great athletic play at the end; but also because Rodgers had the presence of mind to recognize a gift - and cash it in - when he saw one.

''Most guys had no clue what was going on, but Aaron's a pretty smart guy. That's only one reason why he gets the big bucks,'' Packers receiver Ryan Taylor said, ''and this was one time he was worth every cent.''

The win gave them an improbable third straight NFC North division title, plus home-field advantage against San Francisco when the playoffs open next weekend.

Summing it up…

“The only way you can put it is that we didn’t play well enough. We fought for four quarters, they fought for four quarters, it came down to the last play of the game or the last minute. They made a play at the end and we didn’t. As you can see, it has been that type of season for us, up and down. But we still found a way to fight.” Said Tim Jennings.

The Chicago Bears and their fans can only dream of what might have been. But in Chicago, there is always next year. With so many un-signed players heading into next year, including Cutler, 2014 could even be more of a silly season than this year.





Suburban Journals of Chicago Inc. photo







Suburban Journals of Chicago Inc. photo



Suburban Journals of Chicago Inc. photo by Scott Krause