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Packers vs. Bears: Mistakes, QB Pressure Continue Chicago's Late-Season Slide

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 16: Jay Cutler #6 of the Chicago Bears holds his neck after being sacked during a game against the Green Bay Packers at Soldier Field on December 16, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. The Packers defeated the Bears 21-13.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Andrew GardaFeatured ColumnistDecember 16, 2012

From the beginning of the game Sunday, Jay Cutler seemed to be on a different page from the rest of the offense, even Brandon Marshall. It started rough and stayed that way for Cutler, who had his second-lowest yardage output of the season in the Bears' 21-13 loss to the Green Bay Packers.

Interestingly, his only lower yardage game came against the Packers as well.

Green Bay got after Cutler early and pressured him often, forcing an interception and a fumble (which the Bears recovered).

Chicago was able to stay close and slowed down the Packers on several occasions. Yes, Randall Cobb walked up and down the field almost at will, but the game was not out of reach, even though there were times it felt like it should have been.

That said, James Jones lighting up the defense for three touchdowns was brutal, and the four sacks on Cutler were once again too much.

Another issue were the multiple offensive pass interference penalties called on rookie Alshon Jeffery. It was clear he was struggling to separate from the Packers' secondary and ended up hand-fighting and pushing off way too much.

His penalties definitely were factors in some stalled Bears' drives down the stretch.

Chicago has not only lost the NFC North title, but is now in jeopardy of missing the playoffs. The Vikings won against the St. Louis Rams on Sunday and are now in front of the Bears in the divisional and wild-care races. The Bears also trail the New York Giants and Seattle Seahawks, and have lost the head-to-head tiebreaker to Seattle.

Cutler, Lovie Smith, Mike Tice and Rod Marinelli have to take a hard look at the tape this week. This is a game they could have—and should have—won.

It's not the first to fall into that category. But if the Bears want to still make the playoffs, it now has to be the last.

Check out the B/R NFC North Facebook page—like us and keep up with everything NFC North on Bleacher Report.

Follow me on Twitter at @andrew_garda.

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