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(Sunday, December 25th)
Final Score: Green Bay 35, Chicago 21
Green Bay, WI (Sports Network) - Aaron Rodgers threw for 283 yards and a career-high five touchdowns on 21-of-29 passing as the Green Bay Packers wrapped up home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs with a 35-21 win over the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field.
"We wanted the path to go through Lambeau," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "We have a great home-field advantage here."
The Packers have won their last 12 home games. The victory also established a new franchise record for wins in a season.
Jordy Nelson caught six balls for 115 yards and two scores, while James Jones had four receptions for 50 yards and two touchdowns for the Packers (14-1), who bounced back after suffering their first loss of the season last Sunday in Kansas City, 19-14.
The win gives the Packers the luxury of getting healthy before starting their defense of the Lombardi Trophy three weeks from now.
Green Bay's leading receiver Greg Jennings missed his second consecutive game with a sprained left knee. The Packers were also without their two starting tackles. Left tackle Chad Clifton hasn't played since October due to hamstring and back issues, but he returned to practice this week. Right tackle Bryan Bulaga missed Sunday's game due to a left knee sprain.
"I think we need to get healthy, that's the most important thing," Rodgers said. "This was a good win for us, to get back on the right track, get the No. 1 seed. Now that we have the top seed locked up, the priorities may shift a little bit."
On the other side, the Bears have been extremely hampered by injuries.
The Bears (7-8) have lost five straight games since Jay Cutler suffered a broken thumb in a 31-20 win over San Diego on November 20.
Matt Forte hasn't played since Week 13 due to a sprained MCL, and back-up running back Marion Barber missed Sunday night's confrontation due to a calf injury.
Third-string running back Kahlil Bell got the start and carried the ball 23 times for 121 yards for the Bears, who were eliminated from playoff contention. The defeat also clinched a playoff berth for Atlanta, which plays New Orleans at the Superdome on Monday night.
Josh McCown made his first start since 2007, taking over for Caleb Hanie who threw nine interceptions in Chicago's last four games. McCown finished the contest with 242 yards passing with one touchdown and two interceptions.
"When you're playing a ball club like Green Bay, and a quarterback like Aaron, who is not going to blink, they're going to play really well. You can't (blink)," McCown said. "It's a tough assignment, but you have to find a way to pull it off. We were just short tonight."
Chicago marched 71 yards in six plays on its opening possession of the second half, which was capped off when Edwin Williams recovered Bell's fumble in the end zone to cut the margin to 14-10.
But the Packers' offense seized control, scoring touchdowns on each of their first three second-half possessions.
On a play-action bootleg, Rodgers found a wide-open Nelson for a 55-yard touchdown and a 21-10 lead.
After a Bears three-and-out, the Packers went on a lengthy 12-play, 75-yard drive, which concluded when Rodgers flipped a quick slant to Jones for a seven-yard touchdown and a 28-10 advantage late in the third quarter.
McCown's pass intended for Earl Bennett was intercepted by Charlie Peprah on Chicago's ensuing series.
Rodgers hit Nelson for a 25-yard completion down the left sideline, and three plays later Rodgers had his fifth TD pass of the contest, a two-yard back- shoulder fade to Nelson for a 35-10 cushion early in the fourth quarter.
McCown hit Kellen Davis for a one-yard score on Chicago's ensuing series and the Bears tacked on two points on McCown's run up the middle. Robbie Gould added a 30-yard field goal with 1:11 remaining to account for the final margin.
Rodgers picked apart Chicago's defense on Green Bay's nine-play, 80-yard opening drive. Rodgers completed all eight of his passes for 77 yards and capped the march with a two-yard TD pass to Jermichael Finley.
The Bears clamped down defensively and forced three consecutive Green Bay three-and-outs, but the offense couldn't capitalize on their scoring opportunities.
Gould's 49-yard field goal attempt sliced wide right to waste Chicago's 11- play, 60-yard opening drive, and Clay Matthews intercepted McCown with the Bears just outside the red zone on their third offensive series..
The Bears finally put points on the board on their next possession when Gould's 35-yard field goal split the uprights with 1:56 left in the half.
But the explosive Packers offense could only be held down for so long. Rodgers took the ensuing possession 65 yards in seven plays before finding Jones for a two-yard score with 16 seconds left in the half.
With 4,643 passing yards, Rodgers topped Lynn Dickey's franchise record of 4,458 yards in 1983...The 1962, 1996, 1997 and 2007 Packers all won 13 games during their respective campaigns...Rodgers has thrown a TD pass in 29 straight games at home...Rodgers has 45 touchdown passes this season...Donald Driver had two receptions for 29 yards and became the first Packer to eclipse the 10,000-yard receiving plateau. Driver now has 10,008 yards for his career.
12/26 01:07:31 ET
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