Packers clinch NFC North with 21-13 win over Bears

The Green Bay Packers have better things to do than trash talk

with the Chicago Bears.

Like win the NFC North.

And a few other titles, perhaps.

The Packers delivered the ultimate comeback to the yapping Bears

on Sunday, a 21-13 victory that gave Green Bay its second straight

NFC North title and put a serious dent in Chicago’s playoff hopes.

Aaron Rodgers connected with James Jones on all three touchdowns,

and Clay Matthews continued his dominance of Jay Cutler with two

more sacks as the Packers won their sixth straight against their


”Step one is done,” Matthews said. ”We just have to continue

this thing rolling all the way to the playoffs.”

The Packers are assured of a home playoff game and, at 10-4, are

still in the running for the No. 2 seed in the NFC.

Not bad for a team that began the year 2-3.

”I think this team is playing the right way right now,”

Rodgers said. ”We have two games left in the regular season. We

want to be peaking at the right time because those are the teams

that make the deep runs.”

The Bears, meanwhile, are going to need help to get into the

playoffs after dropping five of their last six games. It’s a

stunning slide for a team that began the year 7-1.

”We’re down, but we’re not out,” Cutler said. ”We need to

remind the guys that there are two games left, and there’s a lot of

football left. We’ve got to get back together. We’ve got to piece

this thing back together – however we do it.”

Running their mouths off clearly isn’t the way to go.

Packers vs. Bears is the NFL’s oldest and fiercest rivalry, and

the Bears cranked up the heat when Brandon Marshall and Lance

Briggs ripped their neighbors to the north earlier in the week.

Marshall was particularly passionate, saying he’d never disliked a

team as much as he did the Packers and that Sunday’s game was


Rather than get drawn into the fray, the Packers saved their

response for the field.

”We don’t try to trash talk,” Green Bay cornerback Sam Shields

said. ”When we get on the field we trash talk, but not in the

paper. We let our actions show on the field.”

Marshall scored Chicago’s only touchdown, but finished with 56

yards on six catches, his fewest totals in a month. Cutler had

another dismal day against the Packers, throwing an interception

that led to the game-winning touchdown. He’s been picked off 17

times by the Packers, including 10 in his last five games.

The Bears managed only 67 yards the entire second half, and

Alshon Jeffery was whistled for offensive pass interference three

times – yes, three – in the final 16 minutes of the game.

”Everybody involved in this offense should be held accountable,

even if that means jobs,” said Marshall, who struggled to compose

himself as he spoke before cutting short his postgame interview.

”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 Packers piled almost 400 yards on Briggs and his buddies,

and turned a 7-0 deficit into a 14-7 lead over the last 4:19 of the

second quarter thanks to a pair of Rodgers-to-Jones TDs sandwiched

around a Casey Hayward pick.

”That was important. That was really important,” Rodgers said

of the 14-point swing. ”We couldn’t them get up a couple scores

and get into what they wanted to do, which it looked like they

wanted to run (Matt) Forte a lot. Getting ahead of them kind of

took them out of some of that stuff.”

The Packers made it 21 unanswered points on the first drive of

the second half. In another third-and-long situation, Rodgers threw

incomplete to Jermichael Finley – the guy Bears linebacker Lance

Briggs had dubbed ”an idiot” after the Packers’ tight end said he

thought Chicago would be better without injured Brian Urlacher.

But Green Bay got a second chance when Chris Conte was called

for pass interference. After a delay of game penalty, Rodgers found

Jones for a 6-yard score.

It was Jones’ first three-touchdown game and the fourth

multiple-TD game of his career.

The Bears had chances to get back into it. Green Bay’s Mason

Crosby missed two more field goals, and Charles Tillman forced a

fumble by Ryan Grant that Nick Roach recovered. Chicago got a big

break on the next play when Green Bay safety Morgan Burnett hauled

Alshon Jeffery down right in front of the end zone – and right in

front of an official. The pass interference penalty gave Chicago

the ball at the Green Bay 1.

But the Bears could only get a 34-yard field goal by Olindo Mare

out of it after the first of Jeffery’s pass interference


”We’re just getting started,” coach Mike McCarthy said. ”We

feel that way as a football team, not trying to be arrogant, (but)

we feel there’s a lot better football in front of us. It was an

extremely important game for everybody involved today, but we fully

expected to come in here and win this thing.”

NOTES: Matthews has eight sacks of Cutler in eight games. …

The Bears sacked Rodgers three times, with Peppers and Corey Wooton

each being credited with 1 1/2. … Despite two more misses by

Crosby, his 11th and 12th this year, McCarthy said the Packers will

not be looking for a new kicker. ”We’re not changing kickers.

Write that down right now,” McCarthy said. ”He’s our guy.”