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Rodgers, Nelson Deliver In The Clutch For Green Bay Versus Bears

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Packers, Rodgers Still On Path To “Run The Table” After Late Win

In 2013, Aaron Rodgers ended the Chicago Bears season with a touchdown pass to Randall Cobb on a 4th down pass with the NFC North title on the line. Sunday’s 30-27 loss won’t hurt quite as bad for the 3-11 Bears, but it could be just as important for the 8-6 Packers who are still chasing a playoff spot.

After Green Bay took a 27-10 lead over Chicago just before the beginning of the 4th quarter on a 42-yard touchdown run by Christine Michael, it looked like Rodgers wouldn’t need any of his late-game magic this time around.

All the Packers had to do was hold off the struggling Bears offense for 15 more minutes.

However, when both defensive coordinator Dom Capers and head coach/offensive play-caller Mike McCarthy went into ultra-conservative mode with the 17-point lead, the Green Bay advantage evaporated.

With Capers defense sitting back in a prevent, Bears quarterback Matt Barkley had a field day throwing against limited pass rushers and sagging defenders.

In the fourth quarter alone, Chicago gained 224 yards on three scoring possessions, most coming from the arm of Barkley, compared to just 5 yards from the Green Bay offense on their first two drives.

Barkley started the Bears furious fourth quarter comeback with an eight yard touchdown pass to Alshon Jeffery, who had three catches for 58 yards on the drive, followed by a 9-yard touchdown run from Jordan Howard only six minutes later after a Packers three-and-out.

When an Aaron Rodgers scramble came up just short of the first down marker to force another Green Bay punt with 5:42 left, Chicago regained possession with a chance to complete the unlikely comeback now down just three.

On their 14 play, 75-yard drive the Bears offense milked nearly five minutes off the clock. It culminated with a 3rd and goal from the 4-yard line.

In what could turn out to be the biggest defensive play of the year for the Packers, Barkley went after Micah Hyde in coverage on a pass intended for Cameron Meredith in the flats, Hyde made a beautiful read on the ball and swatted it safely to the ground.

Chicago elected to play it safe and take the tie, as Connor Barth put through a field goal with 1:19 remaining to make it 27-27.

Unfortunately for the Bears, this left plenty of time for some Aaron Rodgers magic.

Mike McCarthy had wisely used the Packers remaining timeouts on the previous goal-line stand to leave Rodgers more than enough time, and for once his use of time-outs didn’t come back to haunt him.

Although the first two plays of drive gave the initial impression that Green Bay was settling for overtime, an incomplete pass and a negative one-yard run, we should all know by now it’s foolish to try to get inside the head of Aaron Rodgers.

On third-and-11 from his own 26, he took his drop and surveyed the field. As Jordy Nelson broke into the secondary he quickly raised his hand in the air to get Rodgers attention and alert him that there was no safety help over the top.

Rodgers spotted the coverage and unleashed a 60-yard bomb down the middle of the field that landed perfectly into the arms of the wide-open Nelson. As the offense raced down the field to get into formation to spike the ball with no time-outs remaining, Rodgers allowed more than 10 seconds to come off the clock once set to ensure no time would be left for Barkley.

Mason Crosby put through a 32-yard field goal as time expired to give Green Bay the win.

Over the last two years, Rodgers’ ability to make crucial plays when it matters most has saved the Packers time and again.

According to ESPN Stats & Information, during the span Rodgers has completed four passes of 40-plus yards in the final two minutes of regulation, including playoffs. The rest of the NFL has two combined.

Rodgers had a pedestrian day statistically speaking, completing 19 of 31 passes for 252 yards, but still managed to build his MVP resume with his clutch throw on one healthy leg.

His partner on the big-play, Jordy Nelson, had another stellar day himself. Catching seven passes for 124 yards (17.7 yards per catch) and eclipsing over 1,000 yards receiving on the year.

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Also notable was the production from the running back position.

Both Ty Montgomery and the aforementioned Christine Michael reached the endzone, Montgomery doing it twice, as well as rushing for a career high 162 yards.

With Rodgers still hobbled, the duo of Montgomery and Michael will be called upon often the next two weeks as the Packers season is on the line.

It’s very difficult to win in the playoffs without a viable running game, and Montgomery may very well be the solution Green Bay has been searching for.

Thanks to a Detroit Lions loss to the New York Giants, the Packers are now in control of their own destiny. If they win out, they are officially in.

However, before they can concern themselves with a winner-take-all week 17 match-up with the Lions, they have to get passed the Minnesota Vikings on Christmas Eve.

With the way Green Bay has been playing, especially at Lambeau, it seems to be a recipe for a very Merry Christmas for the Green & Gold.