Packers cornerback Damarious Randall (23) breaks up a pass
intended for Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte (22) during
the second half an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 13, 2015, in
CHICAGO — Aaron Rodgers saw James Jones
go up for a one-handed touchdown catch and experienced a few
Like they had stepped back in time.
Rodgers threw for three touchdowns, two to Jones, and the Green Bay
Packers beat Chicago 31-23 to spoil John Fox's debut as Bears coach
The Packers got all they could handle from the rebuilding Bears but
took control down the stretch to beat them for the 10th time in 11
games, including the postseason.
Rodgers improved to 13-3 lifetime against Chicago. The 2014 MVP
completed 18 of 23 passes for 189 yards.
Jones, who spent seven seasons in Green Bay before signing with
Oakland last year, caught four passes for 51 yards. That included a
one-handed grab on a 13-yard score late in the first quarter that
left Rodgers flashing back to 2012, when Jones led the league with
14 TD catches.
He added a 1-yarder in the third — a good start after being released
by the Raiders in the spring and by the New York Giants on the final
roster cut. With Jordy Nelson (knee) out for the season, the Packers
were quick to bring back Jones.
"No disrespect to James, but I don't think it was that out of
character," Rodgers said. "Like many other guys that have gone
elsewhere and come back, there is a comfort in this offense for guys
who have flourished in it at times. And I think that Jones is one of
those guys that really feels comfortable on offense."
Packers wide receiver James Jones, center, celebrates a
touchdown with tight end Richard Rodgers (82) and guard T.J.
Lang (70) during the second half.
Randall Cobb, hampered late in the
preseason by a sprained right shoulder, had 38 yards receiving. He
caught a 5-yard touchdown that made it 24-16 early in the fourth
quarter, and Clay Matthews sealed the win by intercepting Jay Cutler
at the Green Bay 20 and returning it 48 yards.
Eddie Lacy ran for 85 yards and a late touchdown. Julius Peppers
chipped in with 1 1/2 sacks for the four-time defending NFC North
"This is our starting point. This is who we are as a team today,"
coach Mike McCarthy said. "A lot of good things to go off of, a lot
of things we can learn from."
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) looks for a receiver
during the first half.
The Bears, essentially starting over
under Fox and new general manager Ryan Pace after a five-win season,
kept this one close though Cutler had a rough afternoon. He was 18
of 36 for 225 yards, with that late interception by Matthews. He
also threw a 24-yard touchdown to Martellus Bennett with 34 seconds
left, but Green Bay recovered the onside kick.
"Green Bay is a pretty good football team," Fox said. "We were going
to have to be near flawless to beat them and we didn't quite reach
that. I think there was a lot of positive things that we'll be able
to build on as a football team moving forward as we get ready for
Matt Forte ran for 141 yards — 105 in the first half — and a
touchdown. Alshon Jeffery caught five passes for 78 yards after
missing the preseason because of a left calf injury. Robbie Gould
kicked three field goals to give him 246 to surpass Kevin Butler as
Chicago's all-time leader.
Green Bay, which outscored the Bears 93-31 over two games last
season and beat them at Soldier Field for their 700th win, trailed
13-10 at the half. Rodgers finished a third-quarter drive with a
1-yard slant to Jones and Gould answered with a 44-yard field goal,
cutting it to 17-16.
Bears running back Matt Forte (22) celebrates a touchdown during
the first half.
Rodgers made it 24-16 early in the
fourth when he hit Cobb with a 5-yard pass, capping a 16-play drive.
But the Bears stalled at the 2 after Cutler's 50-yard pass to
Marquess Wilson. Cutler overthrew Eddie Royal in the end zone on
fourth down after Chicago opted not to try a field goal.
"This was one game," Cutler said. "We've got 15 more. So we've got a
lot of opportunities left to go out there and do it the right way
and keep improving on where we are right now."
Notes: The Bears started two-time Pro Bowl RG Kyle Long at
right tackle — a move that many saw coming after Jordan Mills got
released a week earlier. Vladimir Ducasse started at right guard.
... This was Forte's fourth game with at least 141 yards and his
highest output since he ran for 145 against Tampa Bay on Oct. 23,
2011. ... Packers LB Sam Barrington sat out the second half because
of an ankle injury.