Green Bay Packers running back Ty Montgomery didn’t play in the first two games of the season, didn’t record a catch until Week 6 and started the season as a marginal wide receiver.
After 14 games and a midseason position change after lead backs Eddie Lacy and James Starks were lost to injury, Montgomery could be the Packers’ running back of the future.
The converted wide receiver rushed for 162 yards and two touchdowns in the Packers’ 30-27 win over the Chicago Bears, as Green Bay continued its improbable march to a playoff spot after falling to 4-6 in mid-November.
— Rodgers lacked his typical burst when scrambling, but he was accurate as ever in the passing game, going 19-for-31 and throwing for 252 yards. Despite hamstring and calf injuries, he still managed to pick up 19 rushing yards on three attempts.
— The Packers now trail the Detroit Lions by just one game in the NFC North, and they have moved past the Vikings for sole possession of second place.
— Tight end Jared Cook had 85 receiving yards on six catches, his second-largest total of the season.
— Christine Michael scored a touchdown in his third game with the Packers, but he didn’t have much to do with Montgomery surging. He picked up 45 yards and a touchdown on just four carries.
— It was a tough game for Davante Adams, who dropped a pair of would-be touchdowns and hauled in just two of his six targets for 25 yards.
— Joe Thomas provided the game’s most amusing moment when he literally knocked the Bears logo off of running back Ka’Deem Carey’s helmet in the second quarter.
— Despite injuries to their linebacker corps and a decimated secondary, the Packers have emerged as a turnover machine over the last two weeks. Green Bay racked up four turnovers on the day, securing three interceptions in addition to a fumble recovered by Julius Peppers. They now have 10 turnovers in just two games following their win over the Seattle Seahawks in Week 14.
— His final stat-line is impressive (89 yards and a touchdown on six catches), but Bears receiver Alshon Jeffery was all but absent for three quarters in his return from a four-game suspension. Jeffery didn’t have his first catch until the fourth quarter, and he was targeted just three times before making a 23-yard catch on the third play of the final frame.
WHAT IT MEANT
The Packers are one step closer to a playoff spot after the Detroit Lions stumbled in a 17-6 loss to the New York Giants. They face the Vikings at Lambeau Field next week, before heading to Detroit for a showdown that could decide the division.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Rodgers was his typical heroic self, but Montgomery powered the Packers’ offense in Chicago. He had 123 rushing yards at halftime, shaking off defenders and showing greatly-improved vision in just his fourth start of the season.
DON’T FORGET ABOUT ME
Haha Clinton-Dix led the Packers’ defense to a big game in Chicago. He intercepted Bears quarterback Matt Barkley twice, logging just the second multi-interception game of his career.
A 17-point comeback by the Bears in the fourth quarter came up just short thanks to Rodgers and Nelson. It wasn’t a walk-off Hail Mary, but it might as well have been. Rodgers hit a wide-open Nelson for a 60-yard gain with 40 seconds left in regulation, running the clock down to just three seconds and setting kicker Mason Crosby up for a game-winning field goal.
10.1 yards per carry — Montgomery was electric, averaging more than 10 yards per carry and showing more refinement as a runner in his busiest game as a running back. He had a career-high 16 carries while ceding just four to Michael.
THEY SAID IT
“I think we watched The Weather Channel all week and the wind wasn’t quite as bad as we thought, and I was very thankful the sun was out and that made it more manageable” — Head coach Mike McCarthy
The Packers are one step closer to winning out and securing the division. They’ll face the reeling Minnesota Vikings at Lambeau Field on Christmas Eve, where they’ll have a chance to avenge their Week 2 loss at U.S. Bank Stadium. But while the Packers have improved in the months since, the Vikings are a shadow of their former selves. The Vikings have won just two game since starting the season 5-0 and have ceded a once-commanding lead in the NFC North to both the Packers and the division-leading Lions.