CHICAGO – The Chicago Bears clinched the NFC North and helped knock Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers out of playoff contention.
They could not have asked for a sweeter scenario.
Mitchell Trubisky threw for two touchdowns, Eddie Jackson ended Rodgers’ NFL-record streak without an interception and Chicago clinched the division with a 24-17 victory over the Packers on Sunday.
The Bears (10-4) secured their first playoff appearance since the 2010 team won the NFC North. Even better is that they did it with a rare victory over their hated rivals.
“We’ve accomplished a lot,” Trubisky said. “But I think I’m most proud of just the type of guys that we have in our locker room, the culture that we’ve kind of created. We know that nobody really believed in us on the outside in the preseason — or even throughout the season. But we knew what type of team we had. And we knew we were just gonna keep getting better every single week.”
The loss, coupled with Minnesota’s 41-17 victory over Miami, keeps the Packers out of the postseason for the second year in a row.
Chicago had dropped nine of 10 against Green Bay (5-8-1). But the Bears secured their first trip to the playoffs in eight years with their seventh win in eight games .
For a team that came into the season with four straight last-place finishes, it’s quite a turnaround. But with the hiring of coach Matt Nagy and a trade for Khalil Mack in a busy offseason, the Bears made a huge jump.
“You could feel it all year long that we knew we had the talent,” Nagy said.
Trubisky was 20 of 28 for 235 yards with a 120.4 rating. It was a big improvement over the previous week when he matched a career high with three interceptions.
He gave the Bears a 21-14 lead early in the fourth quarter with a 13-yard pass to Trey Burton in the left side of the end zone.
After stopping the Packers, Tarik Cohen returned a punt 44 yards to the 15. But he stepped out of bounds a yard short on a third-and-5 at the 10 when he easily could have gotten the first down.
That forced the Bears to settle for a field goal by Cody Parkey, making it 24-14 with 6:43 remaining.
The Packers then drove to the 9, but on third down, Jackson picked off Rodgers, ending his streak at 402 passes.
The throw over the middle was intended for Jimmy Graham near the goal line, but the ball got tipped to Jackson, who made his sixth interception of the year.
Mason Crosby kicked a field goal in the closing seconds to make it a seven-point game, but Chicago recovered the ensuing onside kick.
The Packers fell to 0-7 on the road this season and their eight-game win streak at Soldier Field, including the postseason, came to an end.
“Nobody anticipated this happening,” Clay Matthews said. “In reality, we’re not getting blown out every week. I’m trying to find a silver lining, that’s all you can do at this point of the season.”
The Packers are 1-1 since offensive coordinator Joe Philbin replaced fired coach Mike McCarthy on an interim basis.
“The expectation is competing for championships,” Rodgers said. “It’s a good football team. But like I told some of the guys, I look forward to the battles over the years. I like our chances in this division moving forward.”
Colts 23, Cowboys 0
In Indianapolis, Marlon Mack rushed 27 times for 139 yards and two touchdowns as the Colts ended Dallas’ five-game winning streak.
The Cowboys were shut out for the first time since Nov. 16, 2003, when the team fell 12-0 at New England.
Ravens 20, Buccaneers 12
In Baltimore, Gus Edwards rushed for 104 yards and a touchdown as the Ravens topped Tampa Bay on a cold and rainy afternoon.
Baltimore (8-6) remains in control of the second AFC wild-card spot, rushing for 242 yards to become the first team since the 1976 Steelers with five straight games with 190 or more rushing yards.
Steelers 17, Patriots 10
In Pittsburgh, rookie running back Jaylen Samuels, making his second start in place of injured James Conner, ran for a career-high 142 yards and made a critical third-down reception in the fourth quarter.
The Steelers snapped a three-game losing streak as Ben Roethlisberger threw for 235 yards with two first-half touchdowns and two interceptions.
In Other Games
49ers 26, Seahawks 23
Vikings 41, Dolphins 18
Titans 17, Giants 0
Redskins 16, Jaguars 13
Falcons 40, Cardinals 14
Bengals 30, Raiders 16
Bills 14, Lions 13
Eagles 30, Rams 23