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Packers Knock Out Division Rival, Take Firm Hold on Wildcard Spot

Clay

It wasn't pretty and definitely wasn't easy, but the Green Bay Packers held off the rival Bears and completed the season sweep of their neighbors to the south Sunday.

After dominating a majority of the first half, the Packers gave up a touchdown before halftime, and held tenuous six point advantage at the break. The lead didn't last long, as the Bears took the lead early in the third quarter following a fumble by quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

All the momentum was shifted to the Bears, who looked like a pathetic unit in the first half. Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler started to heat up after a dismal first half performance. Things were not looking good for the green and gold until Safety Nick Collins came up with a game-changing play.

Trailing 14-13 late in the third quarter, Collins picked off Cutler and returned it 32 yards to the Chicago ten, setting up a one yard touchdown run by Running back Ryan Grant, who also had a big day. Receiver Greg Jennings caught the two-point conversion, giving the Packers a 21-14 lead, which turned out to be the deciding margin.

Grant got the game started with a bang, rushing for a 62 yard touchdown on the Packers' first play from scrimmage. Grant finished with 20 carries for 137 yards and two touchdowns.

Rodgers had a less than spectacular day, passing for just 180 yards, completing 16-24 passes with no touchdowns or interceptions. Tight end Jermichael Finley continued his emergence as a threat, catching five passes for 70 yards and was the Packers' leading receiver on the day.

Once again, the Packers showed their resolve, not giving into the Bears comeback efforts. The Packer offense turned the ball over two times, but got two takeaways from its top-ranked defense. Green Bay, which is the most heavily penalized team in the league, committed just four penalties for 30 yards.

The Green Bay special teams continued to be a liability as Kicker Mason Crosby missed yet another makable field goal. They didn't give up any huge returns, but did commit a false start penalty on a punt.

With the loss, the Bears were officially eliminated for playoff contention, while the Packers held onto a wildcard spot. Green Bay is tied with the Philadelphia Eagles, who play Sunday night at the New York Giants, for the top spot.

The Packers travel to Pittsburgh next Sunday to take on the struggling Steelers.


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