Posted November 05, 2013

Aaron Rodgers’ injury allows Josh McCown to lead Bears to crucial victory

Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, NFC North
Josh McCown seized his opportunity to start by leading the visiting Bears to victory. (Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Josh McCown seized his opportunity to start by leading the visiting Bears to victory. (Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

With Monday night’s game in the balance, the Chicago Bears embarked on a drive from their own 11 that ate up eight minutes and 58 seconds of the fourth-quarter clock, all but ending the Packers’ hopes at a comeback win.

And yet, that grueling possession must have felt like little more than a blink of an eye for Packers’ fans compared to the eternity they waited for Aaron Rodgers to reemerge from the locker room after leaving with a shoulder injury.

Rodgers eventually did make his way back to the Green Bay sideline — but did so in sweats, his night done. The Packers, minus their leader, still rallied from a pair of deficits. They could not do so a third time with Seneca Wallace at the helm though, falling 27-20 in a game that might have a lingering impact on a jumbled NFC North race.

“Aaron’s a huge part of our offense,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “We’ve been at this thing for how many years? This is something that’s been built over time with Aaron as the centerpiece. I don’t think it’s realistic to put anybody in there and think he’s going to run [the offense] the way Aaron runs it.”

The reports after the game on Rodgers’ situation were murky at best. McCarthy merely described the issue as a “shoulder injury” and said that Rodgers will need more diagnostic tests.

BURKE: Aaron Rodgers injures left shoulder early in game against Bears

Rodgers lasted all of seven plays before Chicago’s Shea McClellin (whose only other career solo sack was of Rodgers in Week 2 last season) buried the Green Bay quarterback on a 3rd-and-8, driving his left shoulder into the Lambeau Field grass. Rodgers then spent a few moments on the bench talking to the Packers’ training staff before jogging to the locker room.

In his stead stepped Seneca Wallace, for his first meaningful regular-season appearance since New Year’s Day 2012. Just like that, a crucial NFC North matchup was down to backup QB vs. backup QB, with Josh McCown filling in for an injured Jay Cutler on Chicago’s end.

McCown, who attempted 20 passes in a relief appearance last week, hit 22-of-41 attempts Monday for 272 yards and two touchdowns. Wallace, suddenly pressed into duty, finished with just 114 yards on 11-of-19 passing. He also snuffed out a Green Bay drive with an interception and ended the game by taking back-to-back sacks.

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“I’m a fan, I’m a quarterback fan, so anytime you see a guy get hurt, there’s something about it that hurts ya,” McCown said of the Rodgers injury. “But you obviously understand the nature of the game and the impact that player has on the game. When he’s not on the field, your odds of winning probably increase.”

McCown’s own play — and a gutsy call by first-year head coach Marc Trestman — contributed to Chicago’s win, too. Trestman showed his trust in McCown early, calling passes on the Bears’ first six snaps. McCown rewarded that confidence with a brilliant 23-yard TD to Brandon Marshall early and what proved to be the game-winning toss to Alshon Jeffery in the third quarter.

Despite those scoring plays from McCown, the Bears still found themselves clinging for dear life to a lead in the fourth quarter. Up 24-20, they appeared ready to punt the ball back to Green Bay with 7:50 left. Instead, on his own 32-yard-line, Trestman sent the offense back on the field.

The gamble paid off, as Matt Forte shook an A.J. Hawk tackle in the backfield and secured a first down. Chicago then ran off another seven minutes before Robbie Gould hit a chip-shot field goal.

McCown also converted a key 3rd-and-6 on that drive, hitting Marshall across the middle for 11 yards.

“This means so much to our team because it’s a division opponent, it’s for the division lead,” McCown said. “So it’s special, I’m very thankful.”

The Bears’ victory created a three-way tie in the NFC North, with Chicago, Detroit and Green Bay all sitting at 5-3. Trestman’s club hosts the Lions next Sunday in another important contest. Green Bay, meanwhile, will welcome Philadelphia to town … but whether or not Rodgers takes the field is anyone’s guess.

McCarthy, however, made it clear that if Rodgers has to sit, Plan B must be executed with far greater precision.

“Seneca needs to perform better, and hopefully he’ll be able to do that with more practice,” McCarthy said. “We need to do a better job in the passing game, third downs were something that held us back.”

The Bears may sit on the opposite end of the spectrum. McCown was far from perfect in his first start since 2011, but he proved capable of moving the football. He may have to answer the call again in Week 10, if Cutler is not ready. (ESPN reported Monday night that Cutler is planning to play against Detroit.) But if this were McCown’s lone start of the season, he did plenty to keep the Bears in the division race.

Can Wallace do the same if Rodgers’ injury leaves him in the spotlight? The Packers would rather not find out.

26 comments
Fannish
Fannish

Seems to me the Bears (minus their starting QB beat the Pack (minus their starting QB). Sounds like a level plaing field to me.

Kevin11
Kevin11

Only two things were proven last night:

1. The only way DUH bearssssss can beat the Packers is to knock Rodgers out of the game.

2. DUH Bearssss don't need to rush Cutler back just yet.


As long as Rodgers gets back, and it appears he will, I bet the Pack wins that last game of the season played in chicago.


amolad
amolad

Shea McClellin, welcome to the party.

atepper001
atepper001

imagine if we had an offensive system that played to the players strengths and put them in a position to be successful instead of force feeding them when we had elite defenses from 2005-2010. and actually game planning on the o side of the ball instead of just saying this is our offensive philosophy for the season and we won't budge from it no matter who we play or who our personnel is. i hate you lovie and your puppet jerry. but, you can come back and be our d-coordinator anytime!

PhillipJacobs
PhillipJacobs

This  has  been  one  STRANGE  season.......reliable  Rogers  going  down....All  the  major  injuries  really  on  EVERY  team....Two  coaches  going  down  with  SERIOUS  health  issues , Hernandez  Murder  situation.....The  debacle  in  Miami  with  a  player  being  bullied ( A  GROWN  MAN , a  BIG  grown  man )  Which  I  dont  know  how  that  happens  without  NO ONE saying  anything....with  ADULTS.....and  much  much  more........just.......strange....

George
George

If I was the Bears, I'd play McCown right through the playoffs.  He looked good.  They could release Cutler into free agency next year, draft a GOOD / ELITE quarterback, and save $8-10 million / year in the process.

Don't be surprised if you see Cutler carrying a clipboard the rest of the season, and then in somewhere like Oakland next year.


metalhead65
metalhead65

DA BEARS!!!!!!!! no excuses the bears were dealing with injuries to. to bad about rodgers but now you are about to find out what it is like to play with a back up qb who sucks.

Kevin11
Kevin11

@atepper001 We? I know I didn't see you on the field last night. BAsking in the reflected glory of others is one of the lamest things a person could do.

PhillipJacobs
PhillipJacobs

The  Bears  were  in  the  same  boat  with  their  QB  out  hurt.......Just  saying......The  Packers  didnt  JUST  HAND  the  game  to  the  Bears.......

atepper001
atepper001

@George i hope you don't make any other decisions in life with this amount of a sample size or thought. let's see... go into the playoffs yet draft an elite QB? cause those are all just sitting around in the last 12 spots and they are so easy to find later in the draft.  look at mccown's record as a starter than look at cutlers. look at what cutler has been able to do this year w/ decent o-line play and a an offensive system that is with the times.  look at where mccown has been and where they found him.  guy played 6 great quarters and is playing lights out, yes. but, saying he is the answer this year and this is sustainable and they should let cutler walk blah blah blah. come on man. 

anon76
anon76

@George 

McCown looked OK, but not great.  He converted when they absolutely needed to, but his completion % was around 50%.  That was good enough to beat the Seneca Wallace-led packers, but not good enough to beat the Aaron Rogers-led Packers nor the Matt Stafford-led Lions.  With Cutler at QB the Bears have a chance to win within their division and make a playoff run.  With McCown they have a good chance at 8-8 or 9-7, a chance to get a mid-1st round draft pick that may pan out, or may not.  If you'll notice, there are a lot more Christian Ponders, Blaine Gabberts, and Josh Freemans in the league than there are mid first-rounders that turned out to be elite- Cutler is about the only one I can think of.

lylerasputin
lylerasputin

@George good thing you are not the bears.  it was a well executed game plan.  mccown played well,  but noone in their right mind thinks he is a better qb then cutler.  and yeah,  great plan,  draft an "elite" qb,  that's easy... why haven't the bears thought of that before?  

  if the bears and the current gm.coaching staff are unsure on cutler,  they will franchise him,  at a more minimal cost then perhaps a 6 year deal,  and go from there.  there is no qb controversy in chicago.  props to mccown,  but get real man.

maverickaw101484
maverickaw101484

@metalhead65 The Bears backup QB performs just as good if not better than Cutler...? So I'm failing to see your point there.

atepper001
atepper001

he is referring to him finally showing up on a stat line. settle down ron burgandy. and start thinking before you respond. all 3 of your posts here are ill informed, unintelligent and just plain idiotic.

atepper001
atepper001

@Kevin11 @atepper001 basking in the glory is quite the stretch when someone uses the term "we" to identify an affiliation to a team. you would need to post your statement to literally 90% of all fan bases and 99% of die hard fans, d-bag.

atepper001
atepper001

@maverickaw101484 @atepper001 it's a witty and humorous response but, the facts are that the bears scored a total of 31 pts in the two biggest games since 2006 and only gave up 50 including at least 21 off of turnovers. they are scoring at a 30/game clip right now. cut the turnovers in half and score at a 21/game clip and they win one SB and play in another, at a minimum.

anon76
anon76

@PhillipJacobs 

Of course, nobody would call Cutler getting hurt strange.  I think he's a tough kid, but his body has taken quite a beating over the years.

George
George

@atepper001 @George Jeff George could rack up some stats too.  No rings.  Nobody liked playing with him.  Cast into the wilderness of Oakland to collect game checks.

Cutler's agent Bus Cook wants Flacco money for an under-performing qb from the McCaskys - and he has a snowball's chance in hell to get it.   The NFL is also a business, and players like cutler ain't good for business.

It'll be Jay in silver&black soon.

maverickaw101484
maverickaw101484

@lylerasputin @George There may not be a QB controversy in CHI. But, whenever McCown has had to step in, he has played as good if not better than Cutler IMO. Problem is, McCown is too old to be "the future", and Cutler makes all the money. That's why Cutler will continue to be the starter when he's back from injury, even though they may actually be just as good (if not slightly better) without him.

atepper001
atepper001

@maverickaw101484 @metalhead65 omg you really don't know anything about football, the bears or have any ability to read through the lines. he is referring to campbell, hanie, orton, grossman, griese, collins and the obvious new connection to a team that has had all of 3 qbs start the last 200 something games. he isn't talking about mccown. seriously, if this is your ability to comment as with your other comments above you should reconsider ever commenting again.

atepper001
atepper001

so you think a coach and GM who have no vested interest in a qb that has 8 games left in his contract will play him simply for the money and because mccown isn't the answer? they just want to win games and they will play the people that give them the best chance to win. they will draft a developmental qb at some point but will most likely stick with cutler for at least one more year to get a bigger sample size of his ability within trestman's system. mccown is not better, he is different. he played well but to say he is better after 6 quarters in the last 24 games?