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Shutdown Corner

Aaron Rodgers rallies to help Green Bay Packers beat Chicago Bears, earn playoff spot

Eric Edholm
Shutdown Corner

CHICAGO — Aaron Rodgers returned just in time.

The Packers' superstar quarterback was unleashed for the first time since getting hurt in their first matchup against the Chicago Bears, and he stunned Green Bay's division rivals with a last-minute touchdown pass to Randall Cobb, giving the Packers a crucial 33-28 win and a home playoff game next week.

In a seesaw affair that saw the lead change six times, the Packers came out on top despite the Bears' valiant effort. The loss kept Chicago from making the playoffs.

Rodgers, in his first game back after a seven-game absence following a broken collarbone, played a gutsy game, rallying after two early interceptions and getting some luck after a sack fumble. Rodgers had the ball knocked loose by Bears defensive end Julius Peppers inside the red zone, but it trickled toward Packers receiver Jarrett Boykin, and he wisely picked it and ran it into the end zone for 10-7 Packers lead.

The Packers then added a field goal after an Alshon Jeffery fumble right before the half to make it 13-7.

But the Bears kept firing, and Jay Cutler heated up with his superstar receivers to take a 28-20 second-half lead.

The Packers rallied to cut the lead to 1 and then went for it twice on fourth down from their own end of the field, and once just past midfield, on their final drive of the game. First, John Kuhn barely gained the one yard he needed on fourth and 1 from their own 22, and then Rodgers hit Nelson on a clutch throw on fourth and 2 from the Packers' 43-yard line.

Nelson was Rodgers' horse all day, catching eight passes for 148 yards. No matter where Nelson lined up — out wide or in the slot — Rodgers looked his way in almost every key situation. But Rodgers found a wide-open Randall Cobb, also back in the Packers' lineup for the first time in several weeks, on a 48-yard bomb with 38 seconds left on a busted Bears coverage.

It shocked the Soldier Field crowd as silence fell over the stadium. The Bears moved to midfield, but Cutler's last-ditch heave was picked off just outside the end zone by Sam Shields to clinch the game for Green Bay, who will host the San Francisco 49ers either Saturday or Sunday.

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Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter!

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