Bears’ playoff hopes dim after loss to Packers

Brandon Marshall was so choked up he couldn’t find the right
words. Then, in a flash, he bolted.

The Chicago Bears are just about out the door, too.

Their fading playoff hopes took another big hit Sunday, and this
time, it was their archrivals delivering it.

Aaron Rodgers connected with James Jones on all three
touchdowns, Clay Matthews sacked Jay Cutler twice and the Green Bay
Packers beat Chicago 21-13 to clinch the NFC North
championship.

The loss was the fifth in six games for the Bears after a 7-1
start, and a playoff bid that appeared to be a lock not too long
ago is looking more like a long-shot now. Even if they win at
Arizona and Detroit, they’ll need help to get in.

This one clearly shook Marshall.

”Everyone involved in this offense should be held accountable,
even if that means jobs,” he said. ”Everyone on offense should be
held accountable. It’s been this way all year. There’s no excuse.
We still have two games left. There’s still hope, but at the same
time, we need to be held accountable.”

The Bears’ managed just 190 yards, their third-lowest total of
the season, so it wasn’t hard to see why Marshall went off. As
strong as his words were, though, his actions really told the
story.

He glared. His eyes welled. His voice cracked, too.

”It’s very frustrating,” he said. ”You can see it on my face
right now, self-explanatory.”

There was a long pause. Then, he said, ”Next question.”

He was asked why the offense is struggling, and he responded,
”It’s been the same way all year.”

He again talked about accountability and then added, ”I’ve got
to try my best to keep it together and not let this affect me,
because it’s starting to affect me more than it should.”

”I love this game,” he continued. ”I’m very passionate about
this game and right now, it’s affecting me way too much. I’m trying
my all to do my job. So … that’s it.”

With that he left the podium and walked quickly out of the
interview room.

The loss was the Bears’ sixth straight to the Packers, and it
came after a week in which both teams talked trash. Marshall was
particularly vehement, saying he’d never disliked a team as much as
he did the Packers, and the Bears’ Lance Briggs called Jermichael
Finley ”an idiot” for suggesting Chicago is better off without
the injured Brian Urlacher.

The Packers backed it up, with Rodgers finishing 23 of 36 for
291 yards, while the Bears simply stalled again.

”The whole thing was Marshall,” Packers cornerback Sam Shields
said. ”Marshall is (Cutler’s) big target. Shut him down. Take him
out of the game and see results.”

Marshall had a 15-yard TD catch but just six receptions for 56
yards overall. But Cutler had another dismal day against the
Packers, throwing for just 135 yards and an interception that led
to Green Bay’s second touchdown. Alshon Jeffery was whistled for
three offensive pass interference calls in the second half, and the
Bears were booed throughout the game.

They really heard it as they walked off the field.

”We’re down,” Cutler said. ”We’re not out. There are two
games left. We need to remind guys of that – there’s two games
left, a lot of football.”

Held to 24 yards on two catches to the Packers in September,
Marshall sidestepped one tackle and stiff-armed Casey Hayward on
his way to the end zone for a touchdown that gave Chicago a 7-0
lead in the second quarter. He screamed and tossed the ball into
the stands while the Chicago sideline erupted in high fives and
hand slaps.

The Packers quickly quieted the Bears and their fans with a
touchdown, interception and another TD, all in a three-minute
span.

Rodgers threw a dart to Randall Cobb, who hauled it in for a
31-yard gain that put the Packers at the Chicago 35. Three plays
later, he connected with Jones for a 29-yard score that tied the
game at 7.

After exchanging punts, Cutler was looking for Devin Hester but
threw one right to Hayward, instead. It was the sixth pick of the
season for the rookie, who grabbed the ball at midfield and
returned it 24 yards. That led to an 8-yard scoring pass from
Rodgers to Jones, making it 14-7 at halftime, and they connected
for a 6-yard TD on the opening drive of the second half to make it
21 unanswered points.

”It’s never over until that last, 16th, game is over. That’s
how this locker room feels. We’ve got to find a way for these next
two games and see what happens,” Cutler said.

NOTES: Already nursing knee and neck injuries, Cutler was hit
hard again, but said he intends to play next Sunday. Matthews has
eight sacks of Cutler in as many games. … Chicago’s Matt Forte
ran for 69 yards, 11 in the second half. … The Bears sacked
Rodgers three times, with Peppers and Corey Wooton each being
credited with 1 1/2 .

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