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Sports Network | January 2, 2011
Green Bay, WI (Sports Network) – The Packers needed one defensive stop to get into the playoffs.
Nick Collins made sure it happened.
Collins’ interception deep in Green Bay territory helped the Packers defeat the game Chicago Bears, 10-3, at Lambeau Field to close out the regular season in celebratory fashion.
Aaron Rodgers’ one-yard touchdown pass to Donald Lee in the fourth quarter was the difference, and the Packers (10-6) will head to Philadelphia as the sixth seed to take on the NFC East champion Eagles in next week’s Wild Card Playoffs.
Rodgers finished with 229 yards passing, and Greg Jennings caught four passes for 97 yards to help the Packers earn back-to-back playoff appearances for the first time since four straight trips from 2001-04.
The Bears (11-5), with absolutely nothing to gain by playing their starters, tried to deal their arch-rival a knockout blow, but will still go into the playoffs with the No. 2 seeding and a first-round bye.
Cutler nearly directed a potential game-tying drive in the final minutes, but came up just short.
Beginning from the Chicago two-yard line with just under five minutes to play, Cutler converted a 3rd-and-1 with a seven-yard pass to Greg Olsen, then scrambled for seven yards on a 3rd-and-4 to gain the 31-yard line.
The two-minute warning came shortly thereafter, and the Bears moved into Green Bay territory on an 11-yard reception by Forte as the clock ticked below 1 1/2 minutes.
On 3rd-and-10 from the 48, Cutler hit an open Devin Hester for a 16-yard gain, and his next pass fell incomplete near the five in an attempt to reach Devin Aromashodu. Hester was open again on the following snap, but Cutler’s pass sailed high and right into the hands of Collins, sealing the outcome.
Both teams struggled on offense in the first half, going a combined 2-for-12 on third downs and just one red zone opportunity.
The best chance in the first quarter was Green Bay’s second drive, when Rodgers hit Driver for a pass to the Chicago 35. Driver, though, had the ball punched out of his grasp, and Charles Tillman fell on it to end the series.
The Bears scored the first half’s only points midway through the second quarter on a 10-play, 62-yard drive. Cutler hit Rashied Davis for a 21-yard pass play to start the set, and Forte later took a screen pass 27 yards to get into field goal range. Robbie Gould hit a 30-yarder with 4:31 left.
Green Bay, which scored 45 points in a rout of New York last week to control its own destiny, was suddenly staring defeat in the face after a scoreless first half.
Things looked even worse in the third when Rodgers was intercepted near midfield on a diving catch by Tillman, who returned the ball to the Packers’ 15. But Cutler returned the favor quickly, lofting an ill-advised pass right to Green Bay’s Charlie Peprah in the end zone.
The Packers finally found a spark with six minutes left in the third when Tramon Williams returned a punt 41 yards to the Chicago 44. On the third play of the ensuing drive, Jennings took a deep pass down the right sideline 33 yards to the one.
Rodgers wasn’t able to lead his team into the end zone, but Mason Crosby’s 23- yard field goal tied the game with 2:39 left.
A solid kickoff return put the Bears at midfield, but a sack forced a 3rd- and-15 situation. Cutler dumped the ball off to Forte, who was able to run straight up the middle to seemingly gain the first down; however, the crowd noise was so loud that the players never realized that Chicago had called a timeout, nullifying the play.
Cutler was sacked again on the second attempt and punted the ball away, leading to Green Bay’s go-ahead drive.
The Packers took over at their own 25 and faced a 3rd-and-3, but Rodgers converted with a 21-yard completion to Donald Driver. Rodgers hit a wide-open Jennings again down the right sideline on the next play, and Jennings took the ball to the one.
Green Bay made sure to punch it in this time, as Rodgers found Lee wide open in the back of the end zone with 12:42 remaining.
Chicago recorded just one first down on its next two drives, which both resulted in a punt.
Chicago still leads the historic series, 91-83-6…The Bears have lost their last three games at Lambeau Field…Green Bay has won 11 of its last 12 home games…The Packers, who committed 18 penalties for 152 yards in their 20-17 loss to Chicago earlier this season, were whistled for only four infractions totaling 30 yards on Sunday…The Bears finished 6-2 on the road, while the Packers went 7-1 at home this season.
Mason Crosby kicks a touchback, and the Bears will start from their 20. Jay Cutler hands to Matt Forte for one. On second down, Johnny Knox is well covered, and the blitzing Packers force a three and out.
Brad Maynard punts to Tramon Williams, who falls on the ball at the packers 46 yard line
Aaron Rodgers and the suddenly hot Packers offense, open with a downfield strike to Greg Jennings, incomplete. A pitch to James Starks is nullified by a holding call. Seecond and 20, and starks puts his head down and gets maybe two yards. Third and fifteen, a screen to Jordy nelson almost gets the first.
Fourth and one, and the Packers punt. It takes a Green Bay punt, and the Bears are pinned near their own three.
Jay Cutler finds Greg Olsen for five, and Matt Forte gets seven yards for the first, and a little breathing room. Forte gets a yard on a handoff, and Charles Woodsen shakes the blockers and sacks Cutler. Third and 17, and Clay Matthews gets him again at the two.
Maynard punts from the back of the end zone, and the packers will start in Bears territory again.
From the 46, Brandon Jackson runs for four, James starks gets another yard. Third and five and a false start makes it third and ten. Rodgers from the shotgun, is chased out of bounds short.
Devin Hester is back, but Jarret Bush downs it at the two.
Matt Forte goes around the end for four, and bulls through for another five. Third and one, and Greg Olsen picks up the first on a slant.
From the 18, Olsen slides for six along the sideline, on second down Charles Woodsen bats the pass down at the line of scrimmage. Third and four and Cutler runs for seven yards and gets the first.
At the 31, Olsen catches it for six over the middle, and that brings it to the two minute warning.
Rashied Davis gets another first and th clock keeps moving. An incomplete to Johnny Knox stops it at 1:31. Second down and Forte gets the forst down in Green bay Territory. A quick out to Knox goes incomplete, then makes a left-handed toss to Forte for no gain. The Bears use a timeout on third and ten.
Devin hester pulls in a pass at the 33, then Tramon Williams braks up the next pass. With 20 seconds left, Cutler throws another interception, and the Green Bay Packers are playoff bound.
Congratulations Green Bay, welcome to the post-season.
Corey Wootton opens the fourth quarter with an offsides, making it second and two. John Kuhn is stuffed, and on third down Aaron Rodgers finds Donald Driver over the middle.
At the Bears 47, Aaron Rodgers fakes a handoff, and hits Greg Jennings to the one yard line.
Donald lee gets the touchdown on a bubble pass.
Danieal Manning takes the short kickoff to midfield. Jay Cutler is sacked, looking for the open man downfield. Second and 19 ans Cutler dumps to Greg Olsen for four. A seeming first down by chester taylor is called back, because the Bears called timeout. Instead, Cutler, from the shotgun is sacked again, and Maynard will punt.
Tramon Williams can't turn the corner, and the Packers will start from their 25. Aaron Rodgers dumps it off to James starks for two, and Brian Urlacher wraps him up.
That's the last play of the third quarter.
The Bears and Packers played to a near draw in the first half. In the other game that matters (right now) for the NFL Playoffs, the New York Giants have a three point lead over the Redskins. Will the Bears sit some starters in the second half, having made a 'statement' by shutting out Green Bay at home for a half? Or will they go for the NFC North sweep? Chicago will have the ball to start the second half, so we'll see what they do after the kickoff.
The sun is down over Lambaugh Field.
Danieal Manning gets to about the 24. And Jay Cutler and the starters are in, an end around to Matt Forte gets four. Forte gets a first down, and keeps pumping for 11 yards. Cutler throws deep to Greg Olsen, who can't pull it down. Forte runs for four yards on second down. Rashied Davis gets nine on an outside post.
The ball's at the Packer 48, and on first down, Forte is stuffed. Cutler throws behind Davis for an incomplete, and Forte takes the pass, but can't make the first down, but go for it on fourth and two. But the pass to Davis is incomplete and the Bears give the ball up in downs.
Aaron Rodgers and the Packers will get their first possession of he second half, at their own 40.
His first pass is intercepted by Charles Tillman, who refuses to go down, until he's wrapped up near the Packers 15 yard line. What a runback. he goes 42 yards the looooooong way.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy throws the challenge flag, questioning whether Tillman had possession. The ruling stands, and Green Bay loses a timeout.
Jay Cutler and Co. come out, but are called for holding on first down. A matt Forte end around goes nowhere and it's second and 20. A Cutler scramble likewise goes for naught, and from the shotgun tries to hit Johnny Knox and is intercepted in the end zone. The Packers will take over at their 20.
Brandon Jackson picks up two on the handoff, and a quick strike to Greg Jennings gets six, and on third and two aaron Rodgers overthrows Jennings downfield.
They punt, and it rolls to the Bears 25 yard line. Johnny Knox falls over, but manages to knock the ball out of the air, saving an interception, Rashied Davis can't hang on, and it's third and ten. Rasied Davis gets seven on a slant and the Bears go three and out.
Brad Maynard makes a nice kick, but Tramon Williams goes 41 yards to give the Packers the ball in Bears territory.
At the 44, James Starks gets about four yards, on the next play Tim Jennings gets called for pass interference, and it's first down at the 34. On the next play Rodgers finds Greg Jennings who takes it to the one yard line.
John Kuhn is wrapped up on first down for no gain. A trick play loses two yards. On third down Tommie Harris sacks Rodgers.
Mason Crosby hits from 23 yards and it's tied 3-3.
Pat Lee makes a nice return and the packers will ahve good position.
From the 40, Brandon Jackson gets hit by Israel Idonije after one yard. Second down and Greg Jennings can't scoop up a low Aaron Rodgers pass, a false start makes it third and 14. Rodgers scrambles for six, and gets hit from behind. Rodgers is having trouble finding the open man today.
Devin Hester gets another catchable punt and runs down the sideline for 15 or so.
Jay Cutler tosses to Chester Taylor for five yards, then on the next play cuts upfield for four more.
It's third and one at the two minute warning.
A play fake to Johnny Knox goes incomplete, and Brad Maynard comes on to punt.
The ball goes out of bounds at the 17, and with 1:45 and two timeouts the Packers go to work. a pass to Andrew Quarless gets six and the clock continues to run. On second down, Rodgers scrambles out of bounds for the first.
Tim Jennings wraps up Greg Jennings on first down, then an incomplete, but Julius Peppers gets a dubious roughing the passer call, for a first.
A short run gets the ball to midfield and the Packers call timeout with 53 seconds left.
Second and four, and Greg Jennings let the ball bounce out of his hands. James Jones can't hang on, and it's fourth down.
Tim Masthay sails one into the end zone with 33 seconds left.
From the 20, Matt Forte gets two, and the Bears let time expire.
From the 20, the Packers start and Aaron Rodgers hands off to James Starks for three. Starks gets the rest on second down. On first down Donald Driver is wrapped up on a screen, but he gets a first on the next play. The bears defense is going after Rodgers.
A long pass to Greg Jennings is negated by a holding penalty. It's first and 20 from about the 31 yard line. The Packers have to use a timeout as the play clock expires. When play resumes, Aaron Rodgers goes back, and is sacked by Henry Melton and Brian Urlacher. On second down, Rodgers has nowhere to throw and is hit by Lance Briggs. A screen to John Kuhn gets seven back, and the Packers punt.
Devin Hester catches and runs it back 18 yards to about the 25 yard line.
Jay Cutler hits Rashied Davis on a quick route, and he runs it to mid-field. A follow up screen to Matt Forte gets four, a run up the middle by Forte makes it third and two, and Cutler scrambles and hits Forte who gets some nice yards after the catch, into the red zone.
First and ten from the 18, and the Bears call timeout again as the play clock runs down. Cutler from the shotgun gets nine yards on a pass to Davis. Another pass to Davis, and it's first and goal from the four. A handoff to Matt forte gets maybe a yard, and then goes low and incomplete to Johnny Knox. reik walden comes around end and sacks Cutler.
Robbie Gould hits from 30 yards out, and it's 3-0 Bears.
The Bears start at their 35 yard line after the Charles Tillman fumble recovery. Jay Cutler's first pass is knocked down, and the next one is almost picked off. It's third and ten.
Rashied Davis gets six yards on a dump off, and the Bears will punt again.
Brad Maynard's punt bounces 48 yards, and the Packers will start deep in their own territory. From the 11, Aaron Rodgers hits Jordy Nelson for 25 yards.
On first down, Brandon Jackson is wrapped up for no gain. A out route gets eight and on third down, Rodgers starts to scramble but has to slide short, and they'll punt.
Devin Hester is back, but Green Bay punts it out of bounds at the 16.
Jay Cutler starts the drive with a handoff to Matt Forte. It gets 24 yards and the Bears get a first down. From the 41, Forte gets another 21, and orte is hovering arounbd 1,000 yards for the season.
Chester Taylor goes for two, and cutler just gets the incomplete pass off, avoiding the sack. Third amd eight and Cutler takes a now customary, early timeout.
Out of the timeout, the pass play is broken up by A.J. Hawk sacking Cutler. They'll punt.
The ball rolls into the end zone, and the first quarter is over.
The Bears and Packers are getting underway. The Packers are the media darlings of the post-season, even though they haven’t qualified yet. The Buccaneers made a win essential for the Packers, by beating the Saints at home
Green Bay takes the kickoff to the 28, Aaron Rodgers hands off to Brandon Jackson for eight. A screen to Donald Driver goes nowhere, and third down is a handoff to John Kuhn who gets enough for the first.
A slant to Greg Jennings gets 12 and the Packers are at midfield, then Brandon Jackson gets three up the middle.
An offsides makes it second and two, and John Kuhn is satcked up. Third down is an incompletion to Jackson and the Packers will punt.
Devin Hester fair catches at around the 13 yard line.
Jay Cutler hands off to Matt Forte for no gain. A pitch to Forte gets three, and on third down the Bears are called for delay of game, making it third and 12. A dump off to Forte is short of the first and the Bears are three and out.
Brad Maynard punts and the Packers will start from their own 34. Pisa Tinoisamoa breaks up a run, but Rodgers gets two quick first down, and the ball at the Bears 48. Anthony Adams breaks up a pass on the line, and on the next play onald Driver has the the catch but D.J. Moore strips him and the Bears recover!
Sports Network | December 30, 2010
(Sports Network) – The Chicago Bears know they’ll be playing again after this Sunday’s trip to historic Lambeau Field, and that it won’t be next week. The Green Bay Packers, on the other hand, have an opportunity to extend their season when the playoff hopefuls participate in one of the most pivotal contests on the Week 17 schedule.
The Packers can earn a second straight postseason trip with a victory over the NFC North champion Bears, which would give Green Bay the sixth and final seed for the conference tournament and a date at NFC East titleholder Philadelphia in next weekend’s Wild Card Round. However, a loss on Sunday would require the Pack to get help from a couple of teams in order to advance.
If Green Bay comes up short in the regular-season finale, it needs both the New York Giants and Tampa Bay to suffer Week 17 defeats to make the playoffs. The Giants are at Washington on Sunday, while the Buccaneers visit postseason-bound New Orleans.
The New Orleans/Tampa Bay game will also have a bearing on Chicago’s status, as a Buccaneers victory and a loss by current NFC front-runner Atlanta to doormat Carolina would give the Bears the conference’s top overall seed and home-field advantage up until the Super Bowl.
Chicago has already clinched a first-round bye as one of the top two seeds by virtue of Philadelphia’s upset loss to Minnesota on Tuesday.
If Chicago is locked into the No. 2 position heading into the game, that would present the chance for the team to hold out a number of valued starters in preparation for the playoffs. However, head coach Lovie Smith has steadfastly stated during the week that the Bears will approach this matchup strictly with the intent to win
Chicago has done plenty of that during a turnaround campaign that has produced the organization’s first NFC North crown and postseason invitation since 2006. The Bears improvement to 11-4 on the season with last week’s hard-fought 38-34 triumph over the New York Jets, giving Smith’s charges victories in seven of their past eight tilts.
The Packers have been less consistent over the course of the season’s second half, but they’ve really turned it on of late. After giving AFC leader New England all it could handle in a four-point road loss behind backup quarterback Matt Flynn in Week 15, Green Bay regained control of its own destiny with a 45-17 throttling of the Giants this past Sunday at Lambeau Field.
Regular triggerman Aaron Rodgers returned from a concussion that caused him to miss the New England game and engineered an offensive explosion for the Packers, who hung up a season-best 515 total yards on the bewildered Giants en route to the rout.
Rodgers showed no aftereffects from the layoff, with the standout signal-caller amassing 404 yards and four touchdown passes without a turnover and hitting on a crisp 25-of-37 attempts.
Green Bay, which has prevailed in 10 of its past 11 outings at Lambeau Field dating back to last season, will have some additional incentive for Sunday’s showdown. The Packers were dealt a stinging 20-17 defeat by the Bears in Chicago back in Week 3, in which the team squandered an initial 10-point lead and committed a franchise-record 18 penalties totaling 152 yards and had two costly turnovers, including a fumble by wide receiver James Jones in the final minutes that set up the deciding field goal.
Chicago holds a 91-82-6 advantage in the NFL’s most-played series, which dates back all the way to the 1921 season, following the above-noted 20-17 comeback win at Soldier Field back in September. The Packers swept the 2009 home-and- home set between the bitter rivals, however, including a 21-15 victory at Lambeau Field in the season opener, and routed the Bears at home by a 37-3 count the previous year. The Bears’ most recent win in Wisconsin came in 2007, also the last year Chicago won both season meetings with the Pack.
For all their storied history together, the teams have met just once in the postseason, a 33-14 Bears victory in a 1941 NFL Playoff.
Smith is 8-5 all-time against the Packers as a head coach, while Green Bay’s Mike McCarthy owns a 4-5 career record against both Smith and the Bears.
WHEN THE BEARS HAVE THE BALL
One reason for Chicago’s success has been the evolution of an offense that was a major detriment over the beginning stages of the season but has gradually become a more effective unit. The Bears have both run the ball and protected quarterback Jay Cutler (3106 passing yards, 23 TD, 14 INT) considerably better than in the early going, and the 78 points the team has scored over the past two weeks indicates the progress that has been made. Running back Matt Forte (978 rushing yards, 43 receptions, 9 total TD) has excelled as a dual-threat performer in coordinator Mike Martz’s sophisticated attack, while second-year wideout Johnny Knox (51 receptions, 960 yards, 5 TD) has emerged as a big-play weapon as the featured receiver. Knox is averaging nearly 19 yards per catch and connected with Cutler for two long scores against the Jets last week, with Forte adding 169 yards from scrimmage (113 rushing, 56 receiving) and a touchdown in the win. Cutler’s done his part as well, having thrown for three scores in each of the past two games, with wide receivers Earl Bennett (46 receptions, 3 TD) and Devin Hester (39 receptions, 4 TD) having also made steady contributions to the passing game. Bennett may sit out on Sunday after tweaking his ankle in last Sunday’s test, however.
While the Chicago offense has been generally inconsistent, the Green Bay defense has been rock-solid throughout this entire season. The Packers have yielded a scant 15.8 points per game on the year, the second-fewest in the NFL, and rank third overall in interceptions (22), fifth against the pass (199.3 ypg) and are tied for fifth with 41 sacks. A stellar secondary is headlined by playmaking cornerback Charles Woodson (86 tackles, 2 INT, 10 PD) and free safety Nick Collins (67 tackles, 3 INT, 11 PD), both of whom were named to the NFC Pro Bowl roster, while corner Tramon Williams (54 tackles, 6 INT, 19 PD) made a case for inclusion as well by turning in an excellent season opposite Woodson. Also headed to Honolulu is outside linebacker Clay Matthews (58 tackles, 12.5 sacks, 1 INT), one of the game’s premier pass rushers, while inside linebacker Desmond Bishop (97 tackles, 3 sacks, 1 INT) and nose tackle B.J. Raji (38 tackles, 6.5 sacks) anchor a run defense that held Forte to a paltry 29 yards on 11 carries in the teams’ first meeting. Green Bay is expected to be without valued end Cullen Jenkins (18 tackles, 7 sacks) for a fourth straight week due to a calf strain, but is hopeful rookie linebacker Frank Zombo (38 tackles, 4 sacks) can come back from a knee sprain that’s cost him the last two games.
WHEN THE PACKERS HAVE THE BALL
Green Bay’s potent offense was in top form during last Sunday’s shellacking of the Giants, with Rodgers (3693 passing yards, 27 TD, 10 INT) slicing up a New York secondary with pinpoint accuracy and wideouts Greg Jennings (72 receptions, 1168 yards, 12 TD) and Jordy Nelson (43 receptions, 2 TD) combining for a whopping 266 receiving yards on 11 catches, with the latter hooking up with Rodgers for an 80-yard score. The Packers stand fifth in the league in passing yards (260.0 ypg) and sport four quality receivers in Jennings, Nelson, Jones (49 receptions, 5 TD) and reliable vet Donald Driver (46 receptions, 4 TD), but haven’t been nearly as efficient running the ball. Top back Brandon Jackson (684 rushing yards, 41 receptions, 4 total TD) is averaging a pedestrian 3.7 yards per carry and mustered a mere 12 yards on seven totes against the stingy Bears in Week 3, but has made an impact as a capable outlet for Rodgers as a receiver. Rodgers, who threw for 316 yards in the last matchup with Chicago, wasn’t selected to the Pro Bowl in spite of his outstanding numbers, but the dangerous Jennings and left tackle Chad Clifton did earn citations.
The Packers won’t be the only team fielding a top-notch defense in this clash. Chicago has been tremendous on that side of the ball as well, ranking fourth in the league in points allowed (18.4 ppg) and limiting the opposition to a meager 92.1 rushing yards per game (3rd overall). Stalwart middle linebacker Brian Urlacher (120 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 1 INT) and weakside starter Lance Briggs (80 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 INT) spearhead the team’s run-stopping efforts and get ample support up front from free-agent pickup Julius Peppers (50 tackles, 8 sacks, 2 INT), who’s been an unblockable force from his end spot in his first season in the Windy City. All three were chosen to this year’s Pro Bowl squad. Peppers and fellow end Israel Idonije (47 tackles, 8 sacks) also give the Bears two productive pass rushers that provide aid to a secondary that’s come up with 20 interceptions thus far. Safety Chris Harris (65 tackles, 5 INT) has been the club’s best ball-hawk, with all of his five interceptions coming in the last eight games, and the ex-Panther can be an asset against the run as well. Chicago has compiled 33 takeaways for the season, tied for second-most in the NFC.
Since the Packers have considerably more riding on this game, the best sources of points figure to come from their players. Rodgers gets a thumbs-up after last week’s prolific display and Jennings is a weekly lock in fantasy lineups, though the depth of the receiving corps makes the remainder of the lot less desirable choices. Jackson’s a reasonable option as Green Bay’s primary ball- carrier, however, and the Packers defense rates as a sound selection as well. Chicago’s stop unit is normally a recommended play, but a matchup with a high- scoring offense and the possibility of Smith resting some starters assigns more uncertainty to the group than usual. That same method of thinking should apply to Forte and Knox, both of whom could be in danger of having their snaps reduced due to the circumstances. The unpredictable Cutler can be a risky proposition regardless of the situation, so it may be best to look elsewhere for a quarterback.
Although the Bears hold the title of NFC North champions, the Packers may rank as the better team in the public eye and come into this game with three distinct advantages. First off, they’re essentially in do-or-die mode, whereas Chicago can treat this matchup as more of a tune-up for the bigger prizes that lie ahead. Secondly, Green Bay has been sensational on its home turf, having averaged over 33 points at Lambeau this season and posting four of its six victories there by double-digit margins. The final x-factor is Rodgers, the more dynamic and consistent of the two quarterback combatants who can utilize his surrounding talent and will his team to a win it absolutely has to have.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Packers 34, Bears 20
With less than an hour to go until the Chicago Bears meet the Green Bay Packers, it’s looking as though the number one NFC playoff seed is going to be off the board. The Falcons lead the Panthers 31-3 in the third quarter. So going into today’s game, the Bears will know they have nothing to gain or lose in their final regular season game.
Stay here for Bears-Packers game updates.
The NFC North champion Chicago Bears take on the playoff hopeful Green Bay Packers Sunday, 3:15 CST. We will be here before, during, and after to bring you all the news, highlights, and re-caps all day long. So keep checking here for all your Bears info.
Injury Report: Receiver Earl Bennett is questionable Sunday. He’s had ankle problems all week, and was limited in Friday’s practice.
The Packers are a different story, the injuries that have plagued them all season, continue to be a challenge.Guard Marshall Newhouse (back) was placed on injured reserve and is out for season. Defensive end Cullen Jenkins (calf) and linebacker Frank Zombo (knee), are also out for Sunday.
Insult Report: Brian Urlacher doesn’t much care about the Packers, one way or another. While he wants a win as much as the rest of the team, he holds a different perspective,“The last time we were in the playoffs, the year we went to the Super Bowl, we played them the last game of the year at Soldier Field, a game that didn’t matter then either and they beat us,” Urlacher said. “We still ended up playing pretty well in the playoffs. Obviously, we want to play well every game but if we don’t, it’s not the end of the world. We still have a bye week to fix whatever problems we may have. It’s not a huge issue.”
Corey Wootton may have accomplished what common sense ultimately could not; getting Brett Favre off the field for good. Word is, Favre failed another physician's exam this morning. After he suffered his concussion in his abbreviated comeback against the Bears, he has been unable to get clearance to play. This is welcome news to seemingly everyone, short of the Minnesota Vikings and the NFL, who would love to get one more chance to trot out the old grey mare for the cameras.
It's baffling that the NFL doesn't understand that the majority of viewers, both fans and detractors of Favre, do not want to see him back on the field in any capacity. The end of the season is here, the playoff scenarios are coming into focus, there are dozens of better, healthier storylines to pursue.It's not fun to see him go back out there and get hurt again.
And besides all of that? Most of us have seen Brett Favre's 'last game' about three times already. If you really love him, you'll make him sit down.
Injury Report: Center Olin Kreutz, and linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa both returned to practice today, leaving only wide receiver Earl Bennett on the injury report with ankle problems. If Bennett doesn't return to practice Friday, his status for Sunday will be doubtful.
For the Packers,Cornerback Charles Woodson (toe), defensive end Ryan Pickett (ankle), safety Nick Collins (ribs) and linebacker Clay Matthews (shin) were limited today. Defensive end Cullen Jenkins (calf), guard Marshall Newhouse (back), kick returner Sam Shields (knees) and linebacker Frank Zombo (knee) did not practice.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy is confident that Shields will be available for Sunday, Cullen Jenkins is more of a question mark.
Insult Report: The air and the internet are thick with them. Hey, it's Bears-Packers week! Packers fans are hitting all the chat rooms and comments sections to explain how much better the 9-6 Packers are than the 11-4 Bears. And the Bears, at least at this point, are all saying they don't want to see Green Bay come to the post-season party.
The Bears are unified, at least in interviews, in wanting to go full bore Sunday against Green Bay. Jay Cutler and the offense want to 'keep rolling', as they've hit a groove of late, that they don't want to lose by sitting back on Sunday. Some Bears, Lovie Smith included, would like to sweep the division for the first time since 1987. Nobody else has swept since then, back when it was still the NFC Central.
Broncos receiver Brandon Lloyd, would like the Bears, 49ers and Redskins to "go [intercourse] themselves", but added he meant it, "in the most professional way". Lloyd clearly feels vindicated by being named to the Pro-Bowl. He wasn't completely negative however, having some complimentary things to say about Brandon Lloyd, "When people ask me, I try not to be arrogant and say I deserve it. But I do."
Brian Urlacher thinks the playing surface of Soldier Field is slowing down the defense. I hear people say this often, but Urlacher was at least cognizant of the fact it slows the other team down, as well, "Opposing teams are playing on the same thing we're playing on, so it goes both ways. But, we're not able to use our speed like we like to. Our corners are slipping when they are coming out of breaks. Our D-linemen are slipping while pushing off the ground. But opposing teams are doing the same thing. I guess it goes both ways."
Fox chose to 'flex' the Bears - Packers game Sunday to 3:15 CST. They did that so they could showcase two classic rivals in a game that matters a great deal to both teams. The Green Bay Packers need to win this game to make the playoffs. Otherwise they have to hope the Washington Redskins can beat the New York Giants. The Bears are still in contention for the number one seed that would ensure them home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
But they probably won't be by the time Sunday's game starts. The networks chose not to flex the games from the NFC South; Carolina @ Atlanta and New Orleans @ Tampa Bay. It would take the unlikely event of both the Falcons and the Saints losing for the Bears to have a chance for the number one seed, by beating the Packers.
By kickoff, it's almost certain this game will be meaningless to Chicago. But they should go ahead and prepare for it, as if it was crucial, just in case. If the news from the South is good, the Bears can go in guns blazing. If not, they can tinker a bit.
Lovie Smith has said he has no plans to sit his starters, regardless of the circumstances. I agree with this decision to some degree. The defense has given up some uncharacteristicly high numbers lately, and there are some who feel that the quick slant has been exposed as their achilles heel. With so much on the line for them, the Packers are sure to test that theory. The Bears should just keep rotating their defensive players in, giving everyone on the depth chart some playing time. Don't let anyone get worn out, while testing strategies, rather than worrying about results.
Same thing on the offensive side of the ball. Jay Cutler is rolling, and the offense seems to be having growth spurts every week. They should keep the engine running. Treat this game like a simulation; try out some new wrinkles (without giving away too much) and let everyone gets some reps.
One caveat: Protect Jay Cutler, at all costs. If this is a meaningless game, don't gamble with injury. The Packers are going to be playing at full tilt to secure a playoff berth. Let's not let the Bears playoff hopes fall victim to Green Bay's bloodlust.
Ah, Packers fans... What can you say about them? That they're loyal? Sure.
That they dress funny? Certainly. They dress themselves much like they dress their bratwurst; mustard yellow and relish green.
Can you say they're hard to insult? When Chicagoans started calling them 'Cheeseheads', they began wearing cheese. On their heads.
The Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers have played one another, more than any other two teams in the NFL ever have. This match-up has inspired as much animosity as any rivalry in any sport. It's a rivalry that has literally lasted generations. It's one of the most reliably held grudges available.
Or so we thought.
Earlier in the year, when your NFC North Champion Chicago Bears were everyone's favorite four-wins-if-they're-lucky whipping boy, before the first Bears-Packers game of the year, some Green Bay fans had a new angle. They were dismissive.
"Oh, most of us think that the Vikings are our biggest rival these days."
Oh, really? It's the last game of the season, now. The Bears have beaten the Packers once and their 'biggest rival' twice, and we stand directly between Green Bay and a playoff berth.
Have we got your attention now?
Yes Chicago, the big city with all the tall buildings, museums and books, is also where the Green Bay Packers playoff fortunes lay. Even if the Pack should win Sunday and make the playoffs, chances are they'll end up right back in Chicago the next week.
But hopefully, the Bears can wrap up the Packers season this weekend so they can watch the Bears playoff run from the comfort of home.
Just like their rivals.
Stay tuned to this StoryStream for all the injuries, insults, updates, and news for this regular season finale between the Bears and Packers.
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