It wasn't easy, what has been for the Packers this season? A bruising 10-3 victory on a 19 degree afternoon against the NFC North champion Chicago Bears before 70.833 at Lambeau Field has propelled the Pack into the playoffs as the number 6 seed in the NFC and sets up a second meeting with the Philadelphia Eagles. Green Bay opened the regular season at Lincoln Financial Field and won 27-20 and now they'll open up the playoffs Sunday afternoon at 3:30 CST.
The payoff to the playoff was hard fought and on a day when the offense struggled to 284 yards, the defense and special teams picked up the slack big time. Moving into Chicago territory on their second series, Donald Driver fumbled the ball at the Bears 35 with Charles Tillman recovering. Matt Forte ripped off two long runs of 25 and 21 yards on back to back plays late in the first but the Packer defense stiffened with the first of 6 sacks of Jay Cutler by Jarius Wynn and AJ Hawk. The next time the Bears got the ball, Cutler hit Rashied Davis for 21 and Forte for 27 to set up Robbie Gould's 30 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Bears at the half. On the Packers first offensive play of the second half, Rodgers was intercepted by a diving Tillman who got up and scurried 42 yards to the Green Bay 15. After a holding penalty, Cutler faced third and 19 and tried for the end zone but safety Charlie Peprah jumped in front of Johnny Knox for an interception that denied the Bears at least three more. The next big play came on a punt return and unlike in September at Solider Field, it was not Devin Hester. Tramon Williams took a Brad Maynard punt 41 yards to the Chicago 44 and the Packers were poised to take the lead. Rodgers hit Greg Jennings on a 33 yard pass to the one but on first and goal, the Packers were denied a touchdown. John Kuhn was held for no gain and on second down, Rodgers faked a quarterback sneak and then pitched wide to Brandon Jackson who looked like he would have the corner but he dropped the ball and was covered up for a loss of 2. On third down, Rodgers was sacked and Mason Crosby tied the game with a 23 yard field goal. A 28 yard kickoff return by Daniel Manning brought the ball to midfield but the pass rush came through again, Howard Green sacked Cutler for 9 and Erik Walden sacked him for 11 to force a punt. From there, Rodgers finally connected on two big plays, 21 yards to Donald Driver and a 46 sideline wheel route to Jennings who again was brought down at the one. This time, Green Bay converted as Donald Lee caught the 1 yard touchdown pass off play action for a 10-3 lead. The Bears went 3 and out from their 20 but Green Bay couldn't cash in good field position at midfield. Cutler was again sacked on consecutive plays to end their next series and Green Bay kicked it right back to them with 4:49 to play. From their 2, the Bears moved to the Packers 32 with :20 to play where on second and 10, Cutler overthrew Hester and Nick Collins intercepted the pass to seal the victory. Rodgers finished 19 of 28 for 229 yards and a passer rating of 89.7 but he was also the team's leading rusher with 21 yards on 7 carries. Green Bay managed only 60 yards on the ground. The defense gave up 110 yards rushing, 91 to Forte but Cutler was only 21 of 39 for 168 yards, a passer rating of 43.5 with 6 sacks and 2 interceptions. The victory capped two win and get in playoff-type games for the Packers and sends them to Philadelphia for the NFC Wild Card game next Sunday. Click the link below to hear the post game locker room quotes.