This Sunday will mark the 202nd time (including two playoff games) that the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers will tee off against each other. It’s a rivalry that has been dominated by the Packers for quite some time now, they have won 20 of the last 25 matchups between the two teams at Soldier Field. In games that Aaron Rodgers has started against the Bears, Green Bay is 20-5. However, seven of the last eight that have been played at Soldier Field have been single-digit affairs.
With Sunday’s game comes postseason implications for both. For Chicago it’s simple: Beat the Packers and you’re in the playoffs. But lose to Green Bay and they need a win by the Los Angeles Rams over the Arizona Cardinals to clinch. For the Packers, beat the Bears and you secure the 1-seed in the NFC and the only bye in the conference. Lose and you could fall as low as the 3-seed.
Of course it’s Week 17, Packers vs. Bears, with a lot on the line. With that being case, what a great time it is to head down memory lane with this storied rivalry and look at three of the best moments during the time Aaron Rodgers has been under center.
NFC Championship 2010: The B.J. Raji Pick Six
A play that will remain burned in the minds of both Packers and Bears fans for a lifetime. An NFC Championship on the line, the Packers leading 14-7 in the 4th quarter and former Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers drops B.J. Raji into coverage while Sam Shields brings the pressure on a corner blitz.
I was at this game, seated in the end zone. After the Sam Shields interception to officially ice it, a couple of Bears fans started lofting empty beer cans in the direction of anyone in green and gold. It wasn’t bad or some awful experience and I get it. What made it hilarious was the random dude three rows in front of us, standing up in his A.J. Hawk jersey and screaming, “Keep the beers coming, we’re going to Dallas baby!”
What a game, what a memory. Raji dropping into coverage and waddling into the end zone will never not be an iconic moment. The look on the faces of Bears fans leaving the stadium was worthy of a picture to be hung in The Louvre. But I didn’t take a picture. Why? Because I’m humble in victory damn it. Instead, I coddled and cradled numerous Bears fans in the parking lot afterwards and slowly swayed and rocked them back and forth until they fell asleep while whispering to them, “It’s okay. The bad man Aaron Rodgers is leaving your city.”
Week 17 2013: The 4th and 8 pass to Randall Cobb to clinch the NFC North
In 2013, the NFC North crown came down to the final game of the year at Soldier Field. Rodgers had missed seven games during the year due to injury and the Packers had taped things together by starting three quarterbacks (Matt Flynn, Scott Tolzien, “Super” Seneca Wallace) in his absence. Neither the Packers or the Bears had great season by any stretch of the imagination, but the division title came down to this game and this play.
Rodgers immediately feels pressure from Julius Peppers off the edge and John Kuhn was able to cut him down just enough for Rodgers to escape. The beauty in this play doesn’t come from the play itself, but from Packers radio color commentator Larry McCarren screaming over Wayne Larrivee, “HE’S GOT RANDALL COBB!” Bless Chris Conte for the blown coverage allowing this masterpiece to come to fruition, sending a dagger through the souls of Bears fans all around the world.
If you play this clip knowingly around a Bears fan, you should immediately become responsible for whatever actions they respond with. There’s funny and there’s flat out mean. Playing this highlight to a Bears fan may seem funny on the surface but it’s more cruel than anything. They’ve been through enough, don’t cause more pain.
Week 1 2018: Aaron Rodgers returns for the second half comeback
The season was feared to be over before it had even really started. Aaron Rodgers went down early with a knee injury and after a brief stop at the medical tent on the sidelines, he was carted back to the locker room. The worry had set in. It’s Week 1 and No. 12 might be gone for the year. Bury us alive.
Enter DeShone Kizer. While he lead the Packers on a smooth drive deep into Bears territory on his first look, he was ultimately strip-sacked on a third down by Khalil Mack to end the hope. And just a short time later, Kizer threw a pick-six to, you guessed it, Mack. Bears up 17-0 at half. The Spotted Cow flowing rapidly through the bloodstream of Packers fans everywhere and not because it was Packers vs. Bears Week 1, but because this contest and perhaps the Packers season looked over.
Then, in script you read about in fairytales, Rodgers emerged from the locker room after halftime and put the helmet on. The rest, well the rest is what nightmares are made of for Bears fans. Mason Crosby starts the scoring with a field goal to cut into the deficit, 20-3. Rodgers follows it up with three touchdown passes and the Packers beat the Bears 24-23 and all is right in the world.
While 2018 ended up a disaster for Green Bay and the end of the Mike McCarthy era, Week 1 reminded us all that the Bears will continue to be the Bears and do Bears things.
This Sunday there is a lot on the line for both teams. Let’s see if it becomes another top memory for Packers fans or if Mitchell Trubisky and the Bears pony up and pull off the win.