GREEN BAY, Wis. – The Chicago Bears figured out a way to beat the Green Bay Packers: Take out their quarterback.
Aaron Rodgers suffered a left shoulder injury at the end of Green Bay's first series and didn't return to the game, and the Bears pulled off the 27-20 upset at Lambeau Field on Monday night. There is now a three-way tie for first place in the NFC North between the Packers, Bears and Detroit Lions, who are all 5-3.
Green Bay had been 31-12 against the Bears since the start of the 1992 season, Brett Favre's first year as the Packers' starting quarterback. Through all those years the Bears have not had a quarterback that could match Favre or Rodgers, but they did just fine on Monday against Seneca Wallace, Rodgers' backup.
Rodgers was knocked out of the game at the end of Green Bay's first series. He was sacked by Bears end Shea McClellin on third down, and McClellin landed with all his weight on Rodgers' right side as his left shoulder was jammed into the turf.
Rodgers was evaluated on the sideline for a few minutes before he ran back to the locker room for more tests. He didn't return to the sideline until the second half, when he came back in street clothes.
Wallace, who had 4,808 career yards in seven-and-a-half NFL seasons before Monday night, came on for Rodgers. Wallace wasn't in the NFL in 2012 and was signed by Green Bay right before this season started.
Green Bay hasn't invested a lot in its backup quarterback position the last couple years, hoping to avoid the worst-case scenario. The worst-case scenario happened on Monday night.
Wallace was mostly ineffective. He had less than 100 yards passing before Green Bay's last drive. The only thing that kept the Packers in the game was the Bears' inability to stop their running game, even when it was obvious Green Bay couldn't do anything else. Rookie back Eddie Lacy became the second Packers rookie in history to rush for 150 yards in a game. But without Rodgers leading the passing game, the Packers weren't close to the same team that has dominated the Bears in recent years.
The Bears weren't so offensively challenged with their backup quarterback. Josh McCown played well with Jay Cutler on the sideline with a groin injury. He threw a touchdown to each of his huge wideouts, Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery.
With a little more than seven minutes left, Bears coach Marc Trestman made a huge risk at his own 33-yard line, going for it on fourth-and-inches. Matt Forte was almost stopped in the backfield, but eluded linebacker A.J. Hawk and got the first down. The Bears put together a long drive into Packers territory after that gamble. Chicago capped that drive with a short field goal with 50 seconds remaining. Green Bay's chances ended when Wallace took two straight sacks to end the game.
The outcome of the game was secondary for the Packers. The Rodgers injury could change the entire complexion of their season.
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