Bears still looking up at Green Bay after Aaron Rodgers engineers another Chicago nightmare

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In order to be the king, you first must defeat and dethrone the king. The Bears got the attention of the king in Lambeau Field on Sunday night, but they neither defeated nor dethroned Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers in a 24-23 loss to the Packers, and revealed that they still have not caught the perennial NFC North power – yet – with a new head coach and massive personnel makeover.

 

Indeed, for most of the last quarter-century, the Packers have been the standard against which the Bears could measure their progress (or lack of same). Sunday night suggested that in one game – or at least as far as their third-quarter 20-0 lead – under coach Matt Nagy they have made some progress toward closing the gap between themselves and the Packers.

 

But not enough, with fourth-quarter breakdowns recalling to mind other collapses against exactly the same opponent and quarterback. Rodgers returned from a first-half leg injury to lead a Packers comeback that culminated on a game-winning 75-yard pass to wide receiver Randall Cobb – the same Randall Cobb who beat the Bears on a 48-yard pass from Rodgers in the closing seconds of the final game of Marc Trestman’s first season (2013). The Bears now need to move past a demoralizing loss to their betters and not allow it to cause any of the kind of unraveling that the last Cobb backbreaker led to.

 

“We’re not there,” Nagy said. “We’re not there, but we’ll get there.”

 

A dozen teams have won Super Bowls a year after failing to make the playoffs. Not immediately available was how many have won Super Bowls after failing to make the playoffs for four straight years, and few held that expectation, even when odds for the Bears winning the Super Bowl dropped from 100-1 to 40-1 after the trade for Khalil Mack.

 

But the Bears were a popular pick on Sunday to beat the spread (7-1/2 points) in Green Bay, a small change from a lot of recent Bears-Packers at Lambeau. The next step is for the Bears to actually beat the Packers, not just the spread.

 

The Bears never trailed the Packers until that Rodgers-to-Cobb touchdown with a little more than 2 minutes remaining on Sunday. And sufficient time remained for an answering drive for a winning score by the Bears, who went the other direction with the kind of gaffes that have marked their years of futility trying to measure up to the Packers.

 

After the defense had failed to stanch the bleeding that saw the 20-point lead evaporate, special teams tried to run the Green Bay kickoff back and reached only the Chicago 18. An 11-yard completion on first down was nullified by an ineligible receiver downfield. The offense did reach the Chicago 46, at which point Trubisky threw three straight incompletions before a sack and lost fumble ended the evening.

 

“We talked about finishing,” Nagy said, “and we didn’t do that… . We’ve got to grow from this.”

 

That has seldom happened, from too many losses to the Packers and Brett Favre and then Rodgers. Maybe this time… .

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