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Aaron Rodgers, Packers Beat Justin Fields, Bears in NFC North Rivalry Game

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVOctober 18, 2021

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Green Bay Packers improved to 5-1 on Sunday with a 24-14 win over the rival Chicago Bears at Soldier Field in Chicago.

Sunday marked the 100th anniversary of the Packers vs. Bears rivalry after the two NFC North teams first met in 1921. Green Bay now leads the all-time series 102-95-6.

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers wasn't his spectacular self in what was largely a defensive struggle, but he still managed to throw for two touchdowns and rush for another in the win.

Bears rookie quarterback Justin Fields, making his first career start against the Packers, was out of sync for much of the game and finished with just 174 yards through the air with one touchdown and one interception.

The Packers have now won five in a row and 10 of the last 11 against a Bears team that fell to 3-3 on the season.


Notable Stats

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Aaron Rodgers, QB, GB: 17/23 for 195 YDS, 2 TD, 0 INT; 7 CAR for 19 YDS, 1 TD

Justin Fields, QB, CHI: 16/27 for 174 YDS, 1 TD, 1 INT; 6 CAR for 43 YDS

Aaron Jones, RB, GB: 13 CAR for 76 YDS; 4 REC for 34 YDS, 1 TD

Khalil Herbert, RB, CHI: 19 CAR for 97 YDS, 1 TD; 2 REC for 15 YDS

Davante Adams, WR, GB: 4 REC for 89 YDS

Darnell Mooney, WR, CHI: 5 REC for 45 YDS, 1 TD


Rodgers Does Just Enough in Rivalry Win

Rodgers was under siege for much of the day against a talented Chicago defense, but the 37-year-old was able to will the Packers to another win.

Big things were expected out of Rodgers given the massive amount of success he had enjoyed against the Bears over the years:

Eli Berkovits @BookOfEli_NFL

Aaron Rodgers vs the Bears:<br><br>• 20-5<br>• 6,013 yards<br>• 55 TDs<br>• 10 INTs <br>• 107.2 passer rating <br><br>Dominance <a href="https://t.co/SjdZqQ9ADT">pic.twitter.com/SjdZqQ9ADT</a>

It was a battle of attrition at times, but Green Bay's defense held up well enough to allow Rodgers to find his rhythm and make enough plays to win.

Rodgers' first big play of the game was an unconventional one, as he found wideout Allen Lazard on a shovel pass for a one-yard touchdown to tie the score at 7-7 in the second quarter:

Green Bay Packers @packers

TOUCHDOWN FOR <a href="https://twitter.com/AllenLazard?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@AllenLazard</a>! 🦎👑 <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/GBvsCHI?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#GBvsCHI</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/GoPackGo?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#GoPackGo</a> <br><br>📺 FOX <a href="https://t.co/dzZs7koai0">pic.twitter.com/dzZs7koai0</a>

The three-time NFL MVP put together a field goal drive his next time on the field, allowing Green Bay to lead 10-7 at the half.

ESPN's Rob Demovsky noted that the Packers holding a halftime lead against the Bears has essentially been an automatic win during Rodgers' tenure:

Rob Demovsky @RobDemovsky

The Packers are 16-2 vs. the Bears in games where Aaron Rodgers starts and they lead at the half.<br><br>The last time Rodgers/Packers blew a halftime lead to the Bears was 9/27/2010 (they lead 10-7 at half, just like today, but lost 20-17.

Rodgers demoralized the Bears and their fans on the Packers' first drive of the second half that stretched 90 yards over 10 plays and ended with a 12-yard touchdown pass to running back Aaron Jones:

Green Bay Packers @packers

.<a href="https://twitter.com/Showtyme_33?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Showtyme_33</a> makes a man miss &amp; finds the end zone!<br><br>TOUCHDOWN! 🙌<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/GBvsCHI?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#GBvsCHI</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/GoPackGo?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#GoPackGo</a> <br><br>📺 FOX <a href="https://t.co/CY4A2oRzI4">pic.twitter.com/CY4A2oRzI4</a>

The momentum was firmly on Green Bay's side after that, but the offense began to go stagnant as Chicago's defense applied pressure.

That allowed the Bears to pull within three points, but the tight margin was short-lived.

On the ensuing drive, Rodgers hit No. 1 receiver Davante Adams for a 41-yard gain to get deep into Chicago territory:

Green Bay Packers @packers

.<a href="https://twitter.com/tae15adams?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@tae15adams</a> with the BIG gain of 41 yards!<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/GBvsCHI?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#GBvsCHI</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/GoPackGo?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#GoPackGo</a> <br><br>📺 FOX <a href="https://t.co/RiGUMhEpGu">pic.twitter.com/RiGUMhEpGu</a>

Rodgers then scampered for a six-yard touchdown run to reinstate the 10-point advantage with 4:30 remaining:

Green Bay Packers @packers

.<a href="https://twitter.com/AaronRodgers12?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@AaronRodgers12</a> takes it himself &amp; PUTS ON THE BELT.<br><br>TOUCHDOWN! 🙌<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/GBvsCHI?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#GBvsCHI</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/GoPackGo?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#GoPackGo</a> <br><br>📺 FOX <a href="https://t.co/HHkNXTxssB">pic.twitter.com/HHkNXTxssB</a>

The Green Bay defense locked Chicago down on the next drive to seal the game, but it was Rodgers' touchdown that truly put the pressure on.

Rodgers will have plenty of better statistical showings moving forward in 2021; however, he proved again Sunday that he can win even when he isn't dominating games.


Fields Struggles in 1st Career Start vs. Packers

Fields has a bright future and has done some good things early in his career as a starting NFL quarterback, but his performance Sunday was far from a career highlight.

The first-round pick was off the mark for much of the day and wasn't able to get much going with his legs either.

While Chicago jumped out to a 7-0 lead on a touchdown run by Khalil Herbert in the first quarter, Fields squandered an opportunity to put more points on the board on the next drive.

Fields was picked off by Darnell Savage on the end zone on a throw that was nowhere near any of his receivers:

Dov Kleiman @NFL_DovKleiman

Justin Fields thought he had a free-play here, wasn't called, ended up throwing a deep ball to no one but got picked. <a href="https://t.co/Gu9j664SW8">pic.twitter.com/Gu9j664SW8</a>

The miscommunication seemed to be because Fields thought he had a free play, but no flag was thrown on the Packers for being offside. While the referees may have missed a call, Fields lacked the awareness that there was no penalty.

Robert Mays of The Athletic pointed out the irony of Fields not getting a free play against the Packers:

Robert Mays @robertmays

Justin Fields not getting that free play is especially cruel when you consider how many soul-crushing ones Rodgers has gotten against the Bears over the years.

Chicago did not score another point in the first half despite having several opportunities to do so, allowing Green Bay to enter the locker room with a 10-7 advantage.

On the Bears' final drive of the first half, Fields narrowly missed throwing an interception and then got sacked to knock Chicago out of field-goal range.

Peter Bukowski of Locked On Packers and Zack Pearson of BearReport.com shared some observations regarding Fields' performance and tendencies:

Peter Bukowski @Peter_Bukowski

When his first read is there, Justin Fields can really rip it and make wow throws. Beyond that, he's getting a little frantic and dropping his eyes. <br><br>Part of that is just being a rookie. Part of that is the Packers pass rush is playing well even without the Smith Bros.

Zack Pearson @Zack_Pearson

I think Justin Fields will be fine. But he has a knack for tucking it too early and running. Gotta make the reads. That can be fixed. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Bears?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Bears</a>

The issues continued for much of the second half, but Fields finally got something going in the fourth quarter.

With the Bears trailing by 10 points, the rookie signal-caller went 5-of-5 for 64 yards on an 80-yard drive that conclude with a five-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Darnell Mooney:

Chicago Bears @ChicagoBears

.<a href="https://twitter.com/justnfields?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@justnfields</a> right on the Mooney. 🎯<a href="https://twitter.com/Darnell_M1?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Darnell_M1</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/GBvsCHI?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#GBvsCHI</a> <a href="https://t.co/FCVjjtrNSe">pic.twitter.com/FCVjjtrNSe</a>

Rodgers' touchdown run on the next drive put Green Bay back on top by 10, leaving Fields and the Bears with a chance to answer.

However, Fields took two sacks for a total loss of 23 yards, knocking the Bears out of potential field-goal range and forcing a 4th-and-26 play.

Chicago was unable to convert, which essentially iced the game for Green Bay.

There is no question that Fields has rare ability and the potential to be something special, but Sunday proved he has a lot of seasoning left before becoming a consistent winner in the NFL.


What's Next?

The Packers will look to continue rolling next Sunday in a home matchup with the Washington Football Team.

Meanwhile, the Bears will attempt to bounce back in a road meeting with the reigning Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

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