PRO FOOTBALL

Slumping Bears now struggling for their postseason lives

2012-12-16T18:15:00Z 2012-12-26T19:04:04Z Slumping Bears now struggling for their postseason livesAl Hamnik al.hamnik@nwi.com, (219) 933-4154 nwitimes.com
December 16, 2012 6:15 pm  • 

CHICAGO | Talking trash is OK if you work for the park district or streets and sanitation.

When it comes to the Bears-Packers rivalry, you settle your differences on the playing field, not by flapping your gums.

Green Bay gets to do both — talk smack and back it up as it did Sunday, silencing chippy Brandon Marshall and crippling the Bears' postseason hopes, 21-13.

"We lost. We came and fought and we lost," said a somber Lance Briggs, who had a team-high nine tackles.

Aaron Rodgers, now 9-2 in this one-sided rivalry, continued his mastery of the Bears with 23-of-36 passing for 291 yards, three touchdowns, and a QB rating of 116.8.

"Time. Time. The guy's an elite quarterback," Briggs said. "Give him enough time and he's gonna find someone."

Sunday afternoon, it was James Jones for three TD catches and Randall Cobb with six receptions for 115 yards (19.2 average) against a Bears' secondary that blew tackles and was faked out of its spikes.

Green Bay (10-4) beat Chicago (8-6) for the sixth consecutive game, repeated as NFC North champs, and dropped the Bears into a logjam of teams scratching for a wild card spot.

"We got to win these last two to give ourselves a chance," Briggs said of Arizona and Detroit. "We had a good game plan but if you don't get Rodgers down, eventually coverage will break down.

"Win out. If we do, we deserve to get in."

The Bears were out-gained 391-190 in total yardage, finished 0-for-9 in third down conversions and had 10 penalties for 91 yards, including an unheard of three offensive pass interference calls against rookie Alshon Jeffery.

Matched up against cornerback Sam Shields much of the game, Jeffery had his short TD catch wiped out late in the third quarter on a fourth-and-one.

"I ain't gonna put it all on us or the refs. I gotta go back and check the film myself," Jeffery said. "We thought we should win this game.

"I'm a physical receiver. I like to play physical. That's the way the game's supposed to be played, right?"

In the final period, with a first down at the Packers' 16 following a botched punt return exchange, the offense again hit a wall.

Olindo Mare salvaged both drives with chip-shot field goals.

Matt Forte's 22-yard run and a facemask call in the second quarter set up Jay Cutler's 15-yard touchdown throw to Brandon Marshall, who shook off two Packer defenders as if they were cardboard cutouts.

After the game, the usually personable Marshall — who had talked plenty of smack at midweek — was extremely upset with Sunday's playcalling and being a non-factor with only six catches for 56 yards.

"Everybody involved in the offense should be held accountable, even if that means jobs," Marshall said. "It's been this way all year. There's no excuse.

"What I have to do is try my best to keep it together and not let this affect me because it's starting to way more than it should."

Green Bay kicker Mason Crosby tried his best to keep it close, muffing field goals from 43 and 42 yards out.

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