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Packers Clinch NFC North With 21-13 Win Over Bears

Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears
David Banks/Getty Images

CHICAGO — 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 archrivals.

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.

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.

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 “personal.”

Rather than get drawn into the fray, the Packers saved their response for 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.

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.

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 penalties.

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Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. Material may not be redistributed.

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